Wide-open roadways and long summers make Texas an ideal place for motorcyclists. In fact, Texas has the fifth-largest number of estimated motorcycle registrations in the U.S. A larger volume of motorists, however, also means more injuries. Texas ranks among the top three states (alongside Florida and California) for the highest number of motorcycle fatalities. From 2010 to 2017, there were 68,877 crashes involving motorcyclists in Texas.
Regardless of how safe you are as a motorcyclist, the greatest threat to your safety is other drivers. Between 2010 and 2016 in Texas, just over half of motorcycle crashes (52%) involved multiple vehicles.
In honor of Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month this May, the team at DC Law has created this comprehensive report to arm you with useful information to help you stay safe while enjoying the road.
In this report (click on the links below to jump to each section):
- Texas motorcycle injury statistics
- Death by motorcycle statistics for Texas
- Texas motorcycle laws
- Safety tips for motorists
- Motorcycle safety resources
Texas Motorcycle Injury Statistics
Injuries by Age
The average age of motorcyclists in Texas who crash is 39 years old, while the average age of passengers in crashes is 35 years old. Those who’ve crashed and are under 18 years of age, however, were the most likely (52%) to not wear a helmet.
Here are details, by age, regarding motorists who suffered serious injuries in 2018:
|Motorcyclists & Passengers Who Suffered Serious Injuries|
|Age||# of Injuries||% of Drivers and Passengers Who Didn’t Wear a Helmet|
Injuries by Day of Week and Time of Day
Mondays through Fridays are more treacherous for motorcyclists than Saturdays and Sundays. According to findings from 2010-2017, 65% of motorcycle crashes occur on weekdays, with 35% of crashes occurring on the weekend. Yet, weekdays have a higher percentage of crashes that don’t cause injury, as well as crashes with less serious injuries. 74% of crashes that occurred during the daytime resulted in no or minor injuries.
While a majority of crashes occur during daylight, there’s a higher percentage of fatal and suspected serious injury crashes. 30% of crashes that occurred during nighttime resulted in fatal or serious injuries.
Injuries by Location
Serious and fatal motorcycle crashes are more likely to occur in rural locations rather than in urban areas. Between 2010 and 2017 in rural Texas, 8% of crashes were fatal and 28% of crashes were suspected to have resulted in serious injury, compared to urban areas where 4% of crashes were fatal and 19% of crashes were suspected to be serious.
Here are details, by Texas county, regarding motorcycle crashes between 2012 and 2016.
|Top Texas Counties for Motorcycle Crashes Between 2012 and 2016|
|County||Motorcycle Crashes||Population||Rate per 100,000 People|
Injuries Involving Intoxication
Between 2010 and 2017, there were 5,438 motorcycle crashes (including single-vehicle and multiple-vehicle accidents) involving impairment. More often than not (83%), the motorcyclist was the driver who was impaired. Intoxicated motorcyclists are also less likely to wear a helmet, as 66% of impaired motorcycle drivers were not wearing one when the crash occurred.
Motorcycle Death Statistics for Texas
Deaths caused by motorcycle accidents make up 14% of fatal vehicle crashes in Texas between 2010 and 2017. In 2017 alone, 501 Texas motorcyclists died in crashes. These fatal accidents are costly. In 2013, medical costs combined with work loss costs from motorcycles fatalities in Texas came out to $665 million.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver, reach out to lawyer Dan Christensen at DC Law for representation today.
Fatalities by Age
In 2018, Texas motorcyclists and passengers between the age of 25 and 34 saw the most crash fatalities compared to other age ranges, followed by those 55 years of age plus, 98 of who died in a motorcycle accident.
|Texas Motorcyclists & Passengers Who Suffered Fatal Injuries in 2018|
|Age||# of Fatalities||% of Drivers and Passengers Who Didn’t Wear a Helmet|
Fatalities by Day of Week and Time of Day
While more crashes occur during weekdays, weekend crashes tend to be more fatal. Between 2010 and 2019, weekend crashes had a higher percentage (6.4%) that were fatal.
Fatalities by Roadway
Here are details, by Texas roadway, regarding motorcycle crash fatalities between 2012 and 2016.
|Top Texas Roadways for Motorcycle Fatalities Between 2010 and 2017|
|Road||County||# of Fatalities|
The Role of Helmets in Motorcycle Fatalities
In 49% of Texas motorcycle fatalities in 2018, the driver or passenger wasn’t wearing a helmet. Of these 418 deaths, 20 were passengers and 398 were drivers. Only two of the 20 passengers who died were wearing a helmet when the crash occurred, whereas just under half of the drivers who died in a crash (48%) weren’t wearing a helmet.
Given the exposure of riding motorcycles, motorcyclists experience more severe injuries compared to automobile drivers and passengers. Between 2010 and 2017, 35% of motorcycle riders sustained a fatal or serious injury compared to only 3% of drivers and passengers in automobiles.
Texas Motorcycle Laws
Here are the current Texas motorcycle laws that motorists need to know:
Laws Regarding Licensing, Inspections, and Registration
- Drivers must have a valid Class M license to ride a motorcycle in the state of Texas.
- Motorists who have a motorcycle license from another state are able to skip the safety course and simply bring their current out-of-state motorcycle license for a new Texas license.
- You don’t have to be 16 to drive a motorcycle. Minors age 15-17 are eligible to earn a Texas Class M license.
- All vehicles in the state of Texas, including motorcycles, are required to pass an annual inspection. When bringing in a motorcycle for inspection, the following will be checked:
- Wheel Assembly
- Exhaust System
- Tail Lampe
- Stop Lamp
- License Plate Lamp
- Rear Red Reflector
- Head Lamp
- Motor, Serial, or Vehicle Identification Number
- For those who own a motorcycle in Texas, it’s required to register a motorcycle with the County Tax Assessor-Collector in your county. This is where drivers receive a license plate, which must be attached to motorcycles at all times.
- In the state of Texas, motorcycle riders and passengers are required to wear a helmet that meets the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218.
- Motorcycles can be parked in open and available parking spots.
- Same as if you’re driving an automobile, motorcycles can only be parked in handicapped spots if your bike displays a disabled license plate or placard attached to the bike. This placard cannot be shared with other motorists.
- Motorcycles cannot be parked in the striped area adjacent to handicapped parking spots.
- Motorcycle passengers must be at least five years of age, and passengers between five and 21 are required to wear a helmet when on the bike.
- Passengers older than 21 can ride without a helmet if the driver of the motorcycle meets the requirements for a helmet exemption.
Lane Splitting Laws
- Though some motorists advocate for lane splitting, it’s illegal to do so in the state of Texas and may result in a ticket or a fine.
Safety Tips for Motorists
The number one thing any motorcyclist driver or passenger can do is to wear a helmet. Wearing them is required by law for a reason: They can save your life.
Other safety tips include:
Increasing Your Visibility
Automobile drivers are less likely to spot a motorcyclist, so it’s up to you to make your presence more obvious. Using your lights or choosing a bright paint color for your motorcycle can help.
Keeping Your Motorcycle in Mint Condition
When riding a motorcycle, you’re very exposed. Any potential issues with the bike itself, like faulty brakes or even a horn not working, could prove fatal. To reduce potential issues with your motorcycle, take it to a mechanic or someone familiar with how motorcycles operate.
For more motorcycle safety tips, plus what to do if you get into a motorcycle accident, check out our blog post: Motorcycle Accident Risk Factors and Safety Tips.
Motorcycle Safety Resources
Check out the following resources for more safety tips geared toward both automobile drivers and motorcyclists, as well as information regarding motorcycle equipment and technology.
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers articles on motorist awareness and how to get road ready.
- National Safety Council has information geared towards how automobile drivers can safely share the road with motorcyclists.
- Motorcycle Safety Foundation provides booklets of riding safety and equipment.
- The CDC has additional information on motorcycle injuries and fatalities
- For Car Drivers is specifically focused on helping automobile drivers share the road.
Have You Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accidents are incredibly expensive. The cost of medical bills and bike repair, not to mention income lost from not being able to work, can add up fast. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, or if a loved one has been wrongfully killed in a motorcycle accident, you might be eligible for compensation.
The lawyers at DC Law have decades of experience representing those who’ve been injured (and the families of those who’ve lost loved ones) due to motorcycle accidents. Set up a free consultation today.