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Motorcycle Safety

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Facts and Figures

Yeah, it's a bunch of numbers. And when you're on your bike, it's the last thing you're thinking about. But, the more you know about your chances of crashing before you ride, the better off you'll be.

In 2022, there were 3,396 motorcycle crashes in PA.

872 were seriously injured.

217 people died in motorcycle crashes.

Currently, based on vehicle miles traveled, motorcyclists are killed 27 times more often than car occupants (motorists). This understates the danger because the occupancy rate of cars is about 1.4 times that of motorcycles. When the occupancy rates are considered, motorcyclists are fatally injured an astounding 38 times more often than car occupants.

Another way to state the danger is that all other vehicles account for 99.4% of the vehicle miles traveled leaving only 0.6% of the miles traveled by motorcycles, yet motorcycle drivers account for 21% of all drivers killed!

MOTORCYCLES ARE ALMOST ALWAYS THE STRIKING VEHICLE.

Cars typically do not strike motorcycles! Incredibly, in 96% of fatal motorcycle crashes in the United States, the motorcycle is the striking vehicle (including single-vehicle crashes). This means we riders are going to have to slow down and learn to yield to other road users.

77% of multi-vehicle crashes occur in the 10, 11, 12, 1 and 2 o’clock positions of the motorcycle. This is the typical impact areas of a striking motorcycle that has not yet fallen over prior to impact.

SPEEDING CONTINUES TO BE A SIGNIFICANT FACTOR IN FATAL CRASHES.

Speed increases the chance of loss of control, as well as providing energy for injury. Ride at the suggested speeds. The roads are designed to have a minimum mishap rate for these suggested speeds.

HELMETS — IT'S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE OR BRAIN SURGERY.

The fact is, helmets work. Riders who wear them are more likely to survive head injuries than ones who don't.

IMPAIRMENT CONTINUES TO BE A SIGNIFICANT FACTOR IN FATAL CRASHES.

It's already hard to operate a motorcycle, why make it harder?

Rider Safety Tips

SOME THINGS ARE BETTER LEFT UNSAID… THESE ARE NOT THOSE THINGS.

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Motorist Safety Tips

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Gear and Upkeep

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The Law

Pennsylvania law requires that any person who operates or rides a motorcycle must wear protective headgear unless they are 21 years of age or older AND has been licensed to operate a motorcycle for not less than two full calendar years OR has completed a motorcycle safety course approved by PennDOT.


  • Note: If an individual has a motorcycle learner's permit, a helmet must be worn regardless of age.

  • Note: The passenger of a person exempt from wearing a helmet can also go without a helmet if he or she is 21 years of age or older.

PA law mandates the use of eye protective devices for all motorcycle riders unless operating a motorized pedalcycle or a three-wheeled motorcycle equipped with an enclosed cab.

Live Free Ride Alive

PennDOT's comprehensive motorcycle safety campaign, Live Free Ride Alive, is designed to reduce the number of motorcycle crashes and fatalities on Pennsylvania's roadways. Follow Live Free Ride Alive on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to learn more about getting properly licensed to ride a motorcycle, reducing aggressive driving behaviors by obeying the speed limit, avoiding drinking and riding, and encouraging the use of wearing protective riding gear.
 
Live Free Ride Alive also visits major motorcycle rallies and events throughout Pennsylvania, such as Thunder in the Valley in Johnstown and Roar on the Shore in Erie. Keep an eye on the Live Free Ride Alive social media pages to find out where they’ll be next!

Why You Should Get Licensed

  • Operating a motorcycle safely on roadways requires a different knowledge and skill set than what's needed for operation of a passenger vehicle.

  • A motorcycle is different by design and maneuvers differently than a passenger vehicle. Hazardous road and weather conditions, such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces that usually pose minor annoyances to drivers of other vehicles are in fact major hazards for motorcyclists.

  • Pennsylvania crash statistics show that inexperienced riders suffer more severe injuries than experienced riders.

  • If you are caught riding a motorcycle without a motorcycle license, you run the risk of having to tow your motorcycle or leaving it by the side of the road until you can get it towed.

  • Properly licensed riders are safer riders because the goal of licensing is to ensure motorcyclists have the basic knowledge and skills needed to operate a motorcycle safely.