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Popularity of high-performance motorcycles helps push rider deaths to near-record high
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ^ | September 11, 2007 | Russ Rader, Director, Media Relations

Posted on 09/13/2007 12:29:27 PM PDT by BraveMan

ARLINGTON, VA — Supersports have the highest death rates and worst overall insurance losses among all types of motorcycles, new analyses by the Institute and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) reveal. Motorcyclists who ride supersports have driver death rates per 10,000 registered motorcycles nearly 4 times higher than rates for motorcyclists who ride all other types of bikes.

Supersports are built on racing platforms but modified for the highway and sold to consumers. They’re especially popular with riders younger than 30. With their light weight and powerful engines, supersports are all about speed. They typically have more horsepower per pound than other bikes. A 2006 model Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R, for example, produces 111 horsepower and weighs 404 pounds. In contrast, the 2006 model Harley-Davidson Ultra Classic Electra Glide, a touring motorcycle, produces 65 horsepower and weighs 788 pounds.

“Supersport motorcycles are indeed nimble and quick, but they also can be deadly,” says Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research. “These bikes made up less than 10 percent of registered motorcycles in 2005 but accounted for over 25 percent of rider deaths. Their insurance losses were elevated, too.”

Motorcyclist fatalities have more than doubled in 10 years and reached 4,810 in 2006, accounting for 11 percent of total highway fatalities, preliminary counts from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate.

In an Institute analysis of deaths per 10,000 registered motorcycles, supersport drivers had a death rate of 22.6 in 2000 and 22.5 in 2005. Sport and unclad sport bikes, which are similar to supersports, had the next highest death rates at 10.8 for 2000 and 10.7 for 2005. Death rates for other types of motorcycles were much lower. Cruisers and standard motorcycles had a combined death rate of 5.6 in 2000 and 5.7 in 2005. The death rate for touring motorcycles was 5.3 in 2000, rising to 6.5 in 2005. Overall motorcycle driver deaths rose 59 percent between 2000 and 2005, and the overall death rate climbed to 7.5 driver deaths per 10,000 registered motorcycles from 7.1.

Meanwhile, helmet use fell. Only 51 percent of riders wear helmets certified by the US Department of Transportation. This compares with 71 percent in 2000, according to the federal government’s National Occupant Protection Use Survey.

Registrations jump: Motorcycle ridership is on the increase, with total registrations climbing 51 percent between 2000 and 2005 and contributing to the rise in motorcyclist deaths. Interest in high-performance bikes is growing, as well. Supersports are zooming in popularity, with registrations up 83 percent in 2005 compared with 2000, though cruisers and standard motorcycles made up the bulk of registrations. Combined registrations of cruisers and standards climbed 59 percent from 2000 to 2005. In 2005 supersports accounted for 9 percent of registrations, cruisers made up 47 percent, and standards 4 percent.

In fatal crashes, the average engine size in all classes of motorcycles has risen sharply. Among motorcycle drivers killed in 2005, 33 percent drove motorcycles with engine sizes larger than 1,200 cubic centimeters (cc), compared with 26 percent in 2000 and 17 percent in 1997.

Crash characteristics: Speeding and driver error were bigger factors in fatal crashes of supersport and sport and unclad sport bikes compared with other classes of motorcycles. Speed was cited in 57 percent of supersport riders’ fatal crashes in 2005 and 46 percent of the fatal crashes of sport and unclad sport riders. Speed was a factor in 27 percent of fatal crashes among riders on cruisers and standards and 22 percent on touring motorcycles.

Alcohol also is a problem in fatal crashes of motorcyclists, although less so than among passenger vehicle drivers. In 2005 it was a factor in the fatal crashes of 19 percent of supersport riders and 23 percent of sport and unclad sport riders. Alcohol impairment was an even bigger factor in the fatal crashes of cruisers and standard bikes and touring motorcycles, particularly among riders 30-49 years old. Thirty-three percent of cruiser and standard riders and 26 percent of touring motorcycle riders had blood alcohol concentrations above the legal threshold for impairment. By comparison, 33 percent of fatally injured passenger vehicle drivers had blood alcohol concentrations at or above 0.08 percent in 2005.

“Supersport motorcycles have such elevated crash death rates and insurance losses because many people ride them as if they were on a racetrack,” McCartt says. “Data show that speed is a big factor in their crashes. A combination of factors, including the motorcycle itself, may push up death rates. Motorcyclists presumably buy supersports and sport bikes because they want to go fast, and manufacturers are happy to oblige. Short of banning supersport and sport motorcycles from public roadways, capping the speed of these street-legal racing machines at the factory might be one way to reduce their risk.”

Insurance collision and theft losses: Not only does motorcycle class influence driver death rates but it also has a major bearing on insurance losses. Supersport motorcycles had the highest overall collision coverage losses among 2002-06 model bikes, almost 4 times higher than losses for touring motorcycles and more than 6 times higher than cruisers, a HLDI analysis reveals. Nine of the 10 motorcycles with the highest losses were supersports. The Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R, a 1,000 cc supersport, topped the worst list, with collision losses more than 9 times the average. Five of the 10 motorcycles with the highest overall losses had engine displacements of 1,000 cc or larger.

Claim frequency is driving the high overall losses among supersport motorcycles, meaning that supersports are involved in more collisions in relation to their numbers on the road than other motorcycles. Supersports had a claim frequency of 9 claims per 100 insured vehicle years, compared with a frequency of 2.3 for all 2002-06 models.

Supersport motorcycles are popular targets for thieves, too. Their average theft loss payments per insured vehicle year (a vehicle year is 1 vehicle insured for 1 year, 2 insured for 6 months, etc.) were more than 7 times higher than the average for all 2002-06 motorcycles.

“These bikes own the field when it comes to elevated death rates and collision losses. They also hold the distinction of being the most frequently stolen motorcycle,” says Kim Hazelbaker, HLDI senior vice president. “We found a strong correlation between motorcycle class and insurance losses, with supersports showing up time and again as having far higher losses than other types of motorcycles.”

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: motorcycles; stupidyoungmales
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To: StarCMC

I had a Roadcrafter when I was commuting. A bit on the warm side when stopped, but a very, very tough suit.

61 posted on 09/13/2007 3:09:00 PM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: Tijeras_Slim

Yep! My hubby’s nickname is “safety nazi.” LOL!!

62 posted on 09/13/2007 3:11:14 PM PDT by StarCMC (
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To: StarCMC

Can’t be too careful on those things.

63 posted on 09/13/2007 3:12:56 PM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
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To: StarCMC
Aerostitch. Or at least Draggin’ Jeans. (If not leathers.) Seriously - your story is the type my hubby tells when he says that the Road Rash is worse than the bone breaks.

I've never heard of Aerostitch or Draggin' Jeans. Sounds like they may have helped though. I hit the pavement doing about 70 backwards. I skidded and rolled/flopped a few times with cars skidding all around me on the freeway. Amazingly, no broken bones.

The road rash hung around for a long time because it was on my knees, where bending keept the scabs open.

I think that the worst pain of it all wasn't until 36 hours after the accident when my ribcage felt like I went a round or two with Mike Tyson.

64 posted on 09/13/2007 3:26:03 PM PDT by MarineBrat (My wife and I took an AIDS vaccination that the Church offers.)
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To: absolootezer0
in MI it does. anything over a certain CC (i think 600) rates go up.

Displacement is not the metric that makes sense. A Kawasaki Ninja 600 is a lot more likely to have a loss than my old Yamaha XS 650 twin. There should be classes of bikes, that are insured according to their individual loss histories.

I drive staid bikes in a conservative fashion, and I wind up subsidizing every wheelie popping idiot, darting in and out of traffic on his sport bike.

65 posted on 09/13/2007 3:48:46 PM PDT by gridlock (I Represent Climate Change!)
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To: MarineBrat
YIKES!! I'm glad you lived to tell your tale!

Good stuff.

66 posted on 09/13/2007 4:10:40 PM PDT by StarCMC (
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To: BrewingFrog

I’ve done the same thing.

Everyone I know that rides and has been in an accident has been hit or forced off the road by another driver. To say that fast bikes cause more accidents is like saying powerful handguns kill more people. There are more bikes on the road, period... and that will lead to more accidents.

Last bike was a Kawasaki ZX-7R. I liked the CBR better!

67 posted on 09/13/2007 4:13:20 PM PDT by snowrip (Liberal? YOU ARE A SOCIALIST WITH NO RATIONAL ARGUMENT.)
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To: BraveMan

Tank u for da ping!

Fact filled article, good post!

It’s a toss up as to who is more pathetic; the haters, the fearful or the speed freaks?

Based on observation and sticking to the theme of the thread, FR has an abundance of them all with an extra helping of the ignorant.

(PS: Time to start thinking about that heated seat & hand grips again!)


68 posted on 09/13/2007 4:53:28 PM PDT by JoeSixPack1
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To: taxed2death

LOL! I always like to tell the cagers that, sure, motorcyles are dangerous, but so is life when you actually try to live it. I’d rather take my chances on a bike than already be dead to all intents and purposes like the juicless drones in their trained monkey cages.

69 posted on 09/13/2007 5:46:09 PM PDT by Seruzawa (Attila the Hun... wasn't he a liberal?)
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To: PAR35
No surprise to anyone who has seen those idiots on the highway.

Like one of these guys? For mature audiences only

70 posted on 09/13/2007 5:46:41 PM PDT by EVO X
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To: Wings-n-Wind

A friend just took the IIHS statistics and showed that even though fatalities are up the number of riders is even greater. So in actuality the total fatalities per mile ridden is actually down over the last several years. You have to remember that this is an industry group and its job is to shill for the insurance industry. The insurance companies aren’t losing any money. They just spew this propaganda to reel in the cowards in their cages.

Expect the insurance industry’s lickspittle running dogs at the NTSB to chime in in coordination with their masters.

71 posted on 09/13/2007 5:50:26 PM PDT by Seruzawa (Attila the Hun... wasn't he a liberal?)
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To: gridlock

“There should be classes of bikes, that are insured according to their individual loss histories.”

There are different classes of bikes....insured accordingly.

72 posted on 09/13/2007 6:08:58 PM PDT by taxed2death (A few billion here, a few trillion there...we're all friends right?)
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To: BraveMan
Oh yeah, big mama government... Please make us all safe from ourselves. Make us ride around in cars that have so many airbags they turn into a marshmallow in an accident. Make sure we wear our seat belts. Make sure we don't drive too fast or have too much horsepower. Make sure those motorcyclists don't drive too fast or have too much horsepower. Better make them wear helmets for their own good - we know better than they do. Maybe they should all have sidecars so they don't fall over as much.

Where will it stop? Where will the subjugation of personal liberties and freedoms in the name of "the common good" or "the greater good" end? Better make pizza and burger joints illegal - that food is bad for you! Tofu Tuesdays for everyone! Alcohol and tobacco too, gone. Maybe everyone should exercise in labor camps, oops, I mean fitness centers. Oh yeah, thrill sports? Too dangerous. Close down all those ski and snowboard places. Put an end to skydiving, surfing, etc. Remember, "Conform to the Norm!" ;-/

73 posted on 09/13/2007 6:22:49 PM PDT by CodeMasterPhilzar
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To: BraveMan

I’m curious to see what the numbers would be if you broke out the “rider at fault” and “cager at fault” numbers. I suspect you’d see a large rise in the latter category accounting for most of this.

74 posted on 09/13/2007 6:47:51 PM PDT by Old_Mil (Rudy = Hillary, Fred = Dole, Romney = Kerry, McCain = Crazy. No Thanks.)
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To: Shimmer128

Cause of death most often occurs within minutes after transection of the cord about C2, coupled with a depression fracture of the calvarium, sending skull shards throughout an already dying brain. Some ride without helmets at their own peril and suffer the consequences eventually. If it sounds too dramatic that was my intention because it is all too frequent and real.

75 posted on 09/13/2007 7:41:08 PM PDT by Letaka
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To: BraveMan

Oh great... This means we can expect higher insurance premiums, again...


76 posted on 09/13/2007 8:14:06 PM PDT by MarkL (Listen, Strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government)
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To: ladtx
Brings to mind a story I heard on the local news a few weeks ago. A guy bought his first bike, a spanking new Harley, rode it out of the dealer lot into traffic and was struck and killed by a truck.

Something similar happened at a charity ride I went on. It started at a Harley dealership... About 200 HDs, and one Ducati 8-) . Anyway, this guy picked up a brand new Fat Boy, and drove it off the parking lot. He had admitted that he had only ridden dirt bikes, and it had been about 30 years since then. He seemed to be OK, but we went over a bridge with grooved metal decking, and he veered into oncoming traffic. Luckily, the oncoming car saw what was happening and swerved and stopped before a collision. But it scared the hell out of everybody involved, and he wasn't able to ride the rest of the day. A pair of riders who had doubled up on their cruiser split up, and rode the guy's brand new bike back to his house for him, with him riding "bi*ch" on the back of the other bike. And yes, he did need a change of underwear. But he lived and promised to take an MSF class.


77 posted on 09/13/2007 8:22:28 PM PDT by MarkL (Listen, Strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government)
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To: BraveMan
The idiots who replace their natural betwixt the legs manhood with the crotchrocket and drive like jacka$$es deserve to die horrible deaths from their stupidities.

It is truly a shame when innocent others must lose their lives, as well. And as bad, when emergency crews have to scrape up the guts and "brains" of the deathbike pinheads.

78 posted on 09/13/2007 8:28:45 PM PDT by Thumper1960 (Unleash the Dogs of War as a Minority, or perish as a party.)
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To: StarCMC
‘Tis true. Hubby rides his R1 LE on the track and says it just takes the fun outta riding it on the road. LOL We’re headed to Barber in October. :-)

I know what you mean... I used to ride a KZ-550 in WERA amature racing. Wow, what fun! I've had my Ducati 900 Supersport on the track for Reg Pridmore's CLASS and ridden Keith Code's Ninja 600s at his CA Superbike School. There's NOTHING like riding on a track, and it gives you very important street riding skills, PLUS new respect for what it takes to ride safely, and you pretty much NEVER meet someone who rides on a track that will ride recklessly on the streets. Sure, it can be hard to keep the speed down below the speed limit (my Duck really smooths out on the highway in 6th gear at about 80 MPH, so most of the time, I ride in 5th on the highway).

BTW, the R6 (the 600cc Yamaha, as opposed to your Hubby's R1, the 1000cc Yamaha) probably weighs about the same or a bit less than my 900, but has at least 25 additional HP. My guess is that your Hubby's bike has about 40HP more than mine, and weighs the same or less. Just one question... Does your Hubby's LE have the "Bumblebee" anniversary paint job?


79 posted on 09/13/2007 8:34:05 PM PDT by MarkL (Listen, Strange women lyin' in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government)
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To: StarCMC

On top of that, a sportbike’s handling vs. a cruiser makes it more forgiving.

Not all cruisers.I ride a 96 Magna and it handles real good.

80 posted on 09/13/2007 8:37:05 PM PDT by philetus (Keep doing what you always do and you'll keep getting what you always get.)
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