Understanding the Causes of Motorcycle Accidents in Indianapolis: An Analysis of Recent Data

Understanding the causes of motorcycle accidents in Indiana is essential for everyone on the road.

Collecting and analyzing motorcycle accident data in Indiana is an ongoing task. Participants include Indiana universities, state traffic safety agencies, and federal agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

As a result, interested Hoosiers can find a wealth of statistics online about motorcycle accidents, injuries, and crash deaths in Indiana. Analysis of this data provides insight into the causes of motorcycle accidents一and ways to prevent them.

Indianapolis Motorcycle Accident Statistics

Statistics from the Indiana University Public Policy Institute reveal that:

  • 2020 saw an increase in motorcyclist deaths. 138 motorcyclists died in collisions on Indiana roads in 2020, up from 112 deaths in 2019. Between 2019 and 2020, motorcycle deaths increased 23 percent.
  • Motorcycle crash injuries increased in 2020, too. From 2019 to 2020, the number of non-fatal injuries in motorcycle crashes increased from 1,819 to 1,969一a rise of 8 percent.
  • The number of registered motorcycles is rising, but more slowly than the rate of deaths and serious injuries. The rate of deaths per 100,000 Indiana motorcycle registrations increased by 20 percent between 2019 and 2020.
  • Older riders are more likely to not wear helmets. 46 percent of motorcyclists under age 21 were wearing a helmet during a crash, while only 24 percent of motorcyclists ages 45 to 54 were wearing a helmet.
  • Not wearing a helmet is closely linked to death. In 2020, 78 percent of motorcyclists who died in crashes weren’t wearing a helmet. Among those who suffered non-fatal injuries, 69 percent were found not wearing a helmet.

Additional statistics reveal common traits found among motorcyclists involved in serious accidents. They also reveal information about the accidents themselves that bikers and others on the road can use to protect themselves and reduce the risk of serious accidents.

Causes of Motorcycle Accidents on Indiana Roads

Understanding the causes of motorcycle accidents in Indiana is essential for everyone on the road. Drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and others who use Indiana roads can keep themselves and others safer when they know how to spot and prevent the causes of motorcycle crashes.

The top causes of Indiana motorcycle accidents include the following:

  • Other vehicles. In 2020, 71 percent of motorcyclists who died or were injured suffered these outcomes in a multi-vehicle collision. Only 29 percent died or were injured as a result of a single-vehicle crash.
  • Failure to yield. Failing to yield the right of way to a motorcycle is the most common way another vehicle causes a motorcycle collision. Examples include turning in front of a motorcycle that has the right of way in an intersection, changing lanes into a motorcycle’s path, or going the wrong way on a one-way street into a motorcycle’s path.
  • Unsafe backing up. Vehicles that back up into a motorcycle’s path caused 87.2 percent of all “unsafe backing” collisions involving motorcycles in 2020 (the rest were caused by the motorcycle backing up).
  • Distraction. Distracted drivers caused slightly more than half of all multi-vehicle collisions involving motorcycles in 2020. Distractions can make it too easy for a driver to miss seeing a motorcycle in time to avoid a crash.
  • Weather. Most drivers expect higher road risks in rainy, icy, or snowy weather, and they drive accordingly. However, for motorcyclists, the risk of a crash is highest in good weather – especially in the summer months. Only about 2 percent of motorcycle crashes happen in rainy weather, but 14 percent of crash deaths nationwide occurred in August.
  • Head-on collisions. Nationwide, 76 percent of motorcycle crashes involved the motorcyclist being struck head-on. Only about 7 percent involved another vehicle rear-ending a motorcycle.

Overall, the Indiana University data reveals that in multi-vehicle collisions in 2020, 57.3 percent of the parties at fault weren’t the motorcyclists but the drivers of other vehicles that crashed with the motorcycle. Other vehicles were responsible for 100 percent of wrong-way collisions, 87.2 percent of unsafe backing collisions, and 77 percent of crashes involving a failure to yield the right of way.

Next Steps for Those Involved in an Indianapolis Motorcycle Crash

As this analysis makes clear, keeping motorcyclists safe on Indiana roads is everyone’s job. Bikers have a responsibility to ride safely, but drivers, trucks, pedestrians, bicyclists, and others on the roads must also use care to share the road safely with others.

If you or someone you love is injured in a motorcycle crash, don’t wait. Talk to an experienced Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorney to learn more about your legal rights and options.


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