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The Worst Motorcycle Drivers by State

Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted...

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella...

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Reviewed byDaniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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worst state motorcycle drivers“Look twice. Save a life.” Drivers can never stop watching out for motorcycle riders no matter what state they call home. In fact it was reported in 2003 that over five million motorcycles were being regularly used in the states and these motorcycles were travelling over nine billion combined miles in a year.

When that many people are travelling by bike each year, motorcycle safety and motorcycle insurance policy options should be a real concern.

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Not every state is created equal when it comes to motorcycle safety. Several states fared far worse in 2009 when it came to fatalities related to motorcycle accidents. Knowing which states did the worst and the actual numbers is one small piece of the motorcycle statistics available, but it should convince the riders in those states to be safer!

Riders from other states might want to compare their motorcycle insurance before going through these states, or at least drive around them.

The US Census Bureau’s motorcycle registration data and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s crash statistics by state and vehicle type make this list possible.

Each state ranks in based on the number of motorcycle fatalities in that state in 2009 compared to the total number of registered bikes in the state.

10. Arizona

Arizona starts off the list at number ten. Arizona has a large population of bikers, 138,000, so the total number of fatalities were more than some of the other states on the list. With 121 fatalities for the year in this state alone, motorcycle riders should start thinking about their safety needs and how to get adequate and affordable motorbike insurance. We still have nine more states that each do worse than Arizona.

9. Arkansas

Arkansas is next on the list. Even though there were 76,000 registered motorcycles in the state in 2009, there were 70 deaths due to motorcycle related crashes. With the number of deaths coming up to .092% of the registered motorcycles, Arkansas has some bad motorcyclists, but by far not the worst. They do start a trend of showing southern states to be worse for motorcycle drivers than northern states.

8. Colorado

The home of the mile high city did only slightly worse than Arkansas in the top ten. There were 95,000 registered motorcycles in the state, some of which caused 88 deaths. This puts Colorado in at only about .005 percentage points higher than Arkansas. James Bond has been known to cause a few motorcycle fatalities on the ski slopes, but bikers from this state will have themselves to blame for their top ten ranking.

worst motorcycle drivers

7. Virginia

Virginia jumped up the top ten to the almost 0.1% mark. Virginia motorcycle drivers registered 79,000 motorcycles in 2009. The number of fatalities caused by motorcyclists came up to 77. This means that deaths equaled out to .097% of registered bikes.

Much like others in the top ten list, Virginia is home to part of the Smoky Mountain range which may contribute to some of these deaths. Bikers may love mountain roads and sharp turns, but they should always have safety as the top priority.

6. Texas

Texas was also pushing the 0.1% mark, but only beat out Virginia by a few thousandths of a percentage point. This is because of the fact that there were 435,000 registered motorcycles in Texas in 2009, yet there were 426 deaths caused by motorcycles that year.

This puts Texas at nearly the .098 percent mark when comparing deaths to registered bikes. Maybe this state was affected by the famous biker gangs that got their start in Texas and that rule the western United States.

5. South Carolina

South Carolina continued to raise the bar for motorcycle fatalities by being the first state in the top ten to hit the 0.1% mark. That’s 1 death for every 1,000 riders. This is more than 5 times the fatality rate for all drivers in the nation which is 0.016% (16.13 deaths per 100,000 drivers nationally).

Would you take the chance of hopping on a bike in this state? 108 fatalities were caused in a group of 106,000 riders. South Carolina has also been known to have some of the worst drivers in America involving all vehicles as well. Motorcyclists in the state didn’t quite raise the bar.

worst motorcycle riders by state4. North Carolina

North Carolina turned out to be even worse than its neighbor to the south when it came to motorcycle fatalities. There were 128,000 registered motorcycles causing 155 total deaths in the state in 2009.

This means the number of deaths hit the .12% mark. North Carolina didn’t make the aforementioned list of plain old bad drivers, so they can still hold that over South Carolina’s head.

3. Kentucky

In keeping with the Southern trend, Kentucky rounds out the top three. In another slight yet noticeable increase, the state ended up with a percentage of 0.126% when comparing their motorcycle fatalities to registrations. Kentucky also came in at number seven on the previous top ten of worst overall drivers in America. Maybe seeing the bluegrass located in the pastures of the state isn’t really worth the risk.

2. Louisiana

Louisiana doesn’t really have a whole lot to be proud of. Not only were they number one on the list of which states have the worst drivers in America, they made the top two of the most dangerous motorcycle drivers. Drivers must just be unsafe in general in this state. Or maybe some of it can be blamed on Mardi Gras.

Either way, Louisiana bumped it up a notch from Kentucky by having only 70,000 registered motorcycles in the state, yet 103 deaths caused by them. This beats out Kentucky by over .02 percentage points, coming in at .147%.

1. Mississippi

Mississippi is actually one of the few states in the South that didn’t make it onto the top ten list of the worst drivers in America, but they more than made up for it on this top ten list.

In yet another huge jump, Mississippi beat out Alabama by 0.02 percentage points, with fatalities related to motorcycles being 0.167% of the registered bikes in the state. They may have some of the best catfish in America, but other motorcyclists may be taking a chance if they decide they want fish for dinner.

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Overall Crashes

Just because these states rounded out the top ten of worst motorcycle drivers in America doesn’t mean that other states didn’t have bad drivers. In 2009 there were actually 4,462 deaths attributed to motorcycle accidents in the country.

This was slightly higher than the average motorcycle fatalities per year over the last decade, 4,146. Motorcycle fatalities in 2009 made up a little over fifteen percent of overall traffic accident deaths for the year, around 29,000.

These and other national traffic statistics are made available each year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

worst motorcycle drivers by stateOf course, fatalities are only one way of measuring the worst motorcycle drivers from a particular state. There were over 90,000 motorcyclists injured across the US in 2009, but motorcycle fatalities have a way of communicating the most severe warning possible. Motorcyclists know they could pay the highest price if not aware!

It turns out that deaths attributed to motorcycles are not always caused by colliding with other vehicles. In 2006 the percentage of motorcycle fatalities caused by colliding with a fixed object was at twenty-five percent of all crashes. Motorcycle deaths that involved no collision whatsoever came in at twelve percent.

Reasons Behind Accidents

The statistics show several surprising causes behind accidents of which bikers should be aware. One statistic shows that driving on rural roads poses a significant danger to motorcyclists. Deaths increased during the nineties, but have decreased since.

As of the year 2000, motorcycle accident deaths on rural roads reached 49% of all motorcycle fatalities.

Though many bikers spend their time in city traffic, the country roads seem to pose a bigger threat.

worst states motorcycle driversStatistics also show sobering results when it comes to helmet use. There are people in all states who reject wearing a helmet though it is required by law in some states, yet 42% of all motorcycle deaths happened to those not wearing helmets.

Helmet laws have become more lax since the nineties. This increased rate coincides with the loosening of helmet laws. Knowing these statistics should make it hard for anyone to argue against helmet laws, but the arguments persist.

Another contributing factor to some motorcycle deaths was speeding. Around 35% of all motorcycle deaths in 2008 involved a biker who was going over the speed limit. By comparison only 23% of fatalities caused by passenger cars involved speeding.

Speeding was listed as a contributing factor in the wreck and subsequent death. Speeding tickets can raise a biker’s insurance, which should lead them to follow the law, yet even with staggering statistics showing that speeding contributes to a majority of motorcycle deaths, many bikers continue to speed.

 Complete Rankings

State2009 FatalitiesBiker PopulationFatality RateRanking
North Carolina155128,0000.121%4
South Carolina108106,0000.102%5
New Mexico4054,0000.074%15
Rhode Island1934,0000.056%23
West Virginia2549,0000.051%28
New York155345,0000.045%32
New Jersey65157,0000.041%36
New England1550,0000.030%41
New Hampshire2181,0000.026%44
South Dakota1662,0000.026%45
North Dakota732,0000.022%48

Obtaining Adequate Coverage

The top ten list of the most dangerous motorcycle drivers is meant to show just how dangerous some states are for bikers, but looking at the data shows that motorcycle accidents can happen anywhere and may not even involve another vehicle. Most motorcycle wrecks thankfully do not lead to death, but they can lead to serious injury.

All bikers, even safe ones, should make sure to have full insurance coverage in case they wreck. Motorcycle insurance will increase after an accident, but it always pays to have insurance. Every motorcycle accident isn’t caused by a biker, but every single one has the potential to harm one.

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