Motorcycles have become one of the most recognizable and enduring symbols of American freedom in our culture today. These iconic vehicles are enjoyed by millions of Americans every year, and more than 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States in 2006 were motorcycles. Unfortunately, thousands of those riders and passengers are severely injured or killed on motorcycles each year.
According to recently published data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 5,154 motorcyclists were killed and 103,000 motorcyclists were injured in the United States in the year 2007. Motorcyclists accounted for 13 percent of all U.S. traffic fatalities in 2007, and approximately 500 of those deaths occurred on California roads. While the number of fatal accidents involving most passenger vehicles has declined slightly, motorcyclist fatalities have increased for the 10th year in a row. The 2007 NHTSA data indicates that motorcyclist fatalities have increased for every age group. The largest increase in fatal accidents occurred in the 50 and older demographic, which was up by 16 percent from 2006. This recent NHTSA data also shows that motorcycles are far more dangerous than passenger cars. In fact, per vehicle mile driven, motorcyclists are approximately 35 times more likely to die in a traffic crash than passenger car occupants.