Common Tread

Which states have the most motorcycle fatalities?

May 14, 2019

Maybe it's simpler than I thought: The more you ride, the more you're exposed and the more likely you are to die out there. 

Of course, in reality, I rarely think it's simple. (Some accuse me of being the king of overthinking it.) But some basic stats compiled by the insurance comparison web site QuoteWizard suggests that the states that have the most motorcycle fatalities are the ones with warm weather, where people are out riding all year.

They used National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stats to compare the number of motorcycle fatalities in 2017 with the number of registered motorcycles and come up with the rate of fatalities per 10,000 registered motorcycles. Southern states such as Mississippi, Texas and South Carolina topped the list. Montana, with plenty of winter and not a lot of traffic, was an outlier at the safer end of the list.

I guess the biggest surprise to me on this list was South Dakota coming in at number 49. Sure, winters are long and therefore motorcycling miles per year are fewer, but every year there’s also a huge influx of riders to Sturgis. About two to five out-of-state riders die during the Sturgis Rally annually. In a state with only 16 motorcycle fatalities in 2017, that’s enough to move the needle.

Of course it's true that just riding more means you are exposed to more hazards, but we still control our destiny far more than we think. Learning to ride aware and developing the skills to evade dangerous situations makes most crashes in traffic avoidable, and not riding impaired greatly improves your odds of avoiding a solo crash.

Here's how the states rank.

Motorcycle fatalities per registration per state 

Rank

State

Registered motorcycles

Fatalities

Fatalities per 10,000
registered motorcycles

1

Mississippi

28,124

40

14.22

2

Texas

364,690

490

13.44

3

South Carolina

118,132

145

12.27

4

Florida

586,267

590

10.06

5

Arizona

164,055

163

9.94

6

North Carolina

188,843

176

9.32

7

New Mexico

57,718

53

9.18

8

Kentucky

101,163

90

8.90

9

Missouri

138,294

121

8.75

10

Louisiana

113,664

96

8.45

11

Tennessee

165,968

134

8.07

12

Maryland

118,277

86

7.27

13

Arkansas

89,457

65

7.27

14

Nevada

76,032

54

7.10

15

Alabama

112,185

79

7.04

16

Hawaii

35,576

25

7.03

17

Oklahoma

136,190

93

6.83

18

Georgia

203,922

139

6.82

19

Connecticut

90,131

57

6.32

20

California

842,543

529

6.28

21

Virginia

193,951

117

6.03

22

Indiana

250,579

149

5.95

23

Wyoming

28,960

17

5.87

24

Kansas

95,892

56

5.84

25

Michigan

258,487

150

5.80

26

New Jersey

152,979

83

5.43

27

Colorado

190,002

103

5.42

28

Maine

51,467

26

5.05

29

Pennsylvania

377,158

187

4.96

30

Illinois

333,943

162

4.85

31

Nebraska

55,736

27

4.84

32

Utah

83,993

39

4.64

33

West Virginia

60,582

26

4.29

34

Vermont

30,955

13

4.20

35

Oregon

142,738

57

3.99

36

Idaho

63,297

25

3.95

37

Ohio

410,187

157

3.83

38

New York

392,178

145

3.70

39

Delaware

27,810

10

3.60

40

Rhode Island

30,914

11

3.56

41

Washington

231,401

80

3.46

42

Massachusets

168,931

51

3.02

43

Iowa

194,603

48

2.47

44

Wisconsin

324,670

77

2.37

45

North Dakota

51,941

12

2.31

46

Minnesota

241,556

55

2.28

47

New Hampshire

78,798

15

1.90

48

Alaska

31,859

6

1.88

49

South Dakota

117,461

16

1.36

50

Montana

306,655

23

.075