How dangerous is motorcycling?

It's definitely more dangerous than driving, but the exact risk is unknown.

On average, motorcycling in the United States is 28x more dangerous than driving a car and 900x more dangerous than riding transit rail over a given distance. However, such statistics don't account for confounding factors. For instance, motorcyclists are 81% male but females account for only 3% of motorcycle driver deaths, so adjusting for sex would imply that motorcycling is simply 20x more dangerous than driving. And people with more aggressive, risk-tolerant personalities may be more likely to buy a motorcycle. Conversely, people are presumably less likely to use motorcycles during dangerous weather and road conditions.

If we guess that motorcycling is between 15x and 25x more dangerous than driving, then the 2,500 annual miles of a typical motorcyclist pose at best 1-in-4,000 odds of death, and at worst 1-in-2,500 odds of death, per year. This would make it comparable to performing a single BASE jump or working as a roofer or steel worker for a year.

This only represents the average; many motorcyclists face even more danger, whereas many motorcyclists face less, depending on factors like how well they pay attention to road safety. So an individual's fatality risk could be much better than 1-in-4,000, or much worse than 1-in-2,500. However, this principle also applies to car drivers, so the relative difference may be the same - reckless motorcycling might still be 20x more dangerous than reckless driving, while responsible motorcycling might still be 20x safer than responsible driving.

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