Of all the motorists who share the roads in New Jersey, motorcyclists as a group represent the most vulnerable segment. Motorcyclists are more than 28 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a motor vehicle crash and five times more likely to be injured (NHTSA). Over the last ten year period (2008 to 2017), motorcycle fatalities have varied. The highest number of fatalities (93) occurred in 2011 while the lowest number (50) occurred in 2015. From 2012 to 2016, there have been nearly 12,000 crashes in New Jersey involving motorcycles.
Facts: In 2017, 32.5 percent of motorcycle fatalities involved riders that tested positive for alcohol. In addition, 26 percent of fatal crashes listed unsafe speed as a contributing circumstance while another 24 percent involved driver inattention. There were approximately 2,200 motorcycle drivers involved in crashes in the Garden State in 2016, which resulted in 69 fatalities. If you’re involved in a motorcycle crash in New Jersey, statistics show that you have an 82% chance of being injured (2013 – 2017). Every rider’s best defense against an injury is to obey the law: Wear Your Helmet!
Motorcycle Crash Facts
Motorcycle crashes involving other vehicles
- More than half occur at intersections.
- More than two-thirds occur when the vehicle’s driver does not see the motorcycle.
Motorcycle crashes not involving other vehicles
- More than two-thirds result from excessive speed.
- Inexperienced riders cause many more crashes. 22% of motorcycle fatalities did not have a motorcycle endorsement. Remember to always follow through on your licensing requirements.
- 40% of single vehicle motorcycle fatalities occur during turns and corners. Slow down before maneuvering the
Motorcycle Safety Programs in New Jersey
90% of the riders who are involved in crashes have no formal training. Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF)Training Programs are designed to help new or experienced riders suffer fewer injuries in the event of a crash or possibly avoid crashes altogether. Other potential benefits of a credited training program include road test waivers, insurance discounts and license point deductions. For a complete list of MSF certified RiderCourse training locations in New Jersey, please visit our partner organization NJRIDESAFE.ORG.
A motorcycle riders' best defense against injury is to obey laws and wear protective clothing and equipment
- Helmet – In New Jersey, motorcyclists are required by law to wear a DOT (FMVSS 218) approved helmet.
- Eye Protection – Glasses, Goggles or a Shield
- Jacket – Sturdy, Long Sleeved and Abrasion-Resistant
- Pants – Well-Fitting and Abrasion-Resistant
- Footwear – Sturdy, Over-the-Ankle Boots
- Hand Wear – Well-Fitting, Full-Fingered Gloves
Motorcyclist Safety Tips
- Drive Defensively – Assume motorists do not see you and plan escape routes.
- Make Yourself Visible – Wear bright colored and reflective clothing. Do not linger in “blind spots”. Adjust your lane position.
- Give Yourself Time and Space to React – Do not tailgate. Use the “Two Second Rule” or the “Four Second Rule” to create space between you and vehicles ahead of you
- Avoid Sudden Braking or Turning When Driving on Wet Roads or Gravel – With only two tires, motorcycles have less tire traction than other vehicles.
- Enhance Your Skills with Education – New Jersey offers various safety and skill courses, for riders new and old. View more information, or call 609-633-9308.
- Never drink alcohol or take medications while riding.
- Never ride if you are tired.
Safety Tips for the Motorist
- Be Alert for Motorcycles – Heavy traffic could hide a motorcycle. Be aware constantly.
- Anticipate Hazards for Motorcycles – Be prepared to react to poor road conditions, such as debris or oil slicks, railroad tracks or raised manhole covers.
- Do Not Tailgate Motorcycles – They require less stopping distance than other vehicles.
- Share the Road – Sharing the road will save lives. Motorcyclists and motorists abide by the same traffic laws. To avoid crashes, obey speed laws, warning signs and traffic signals. Share the road. Remember that motorcycles are much smaller and maneuver faster than other vehicles, so always check your mirrors twice.
New Jersey Helmet Law - P.L. 39:3-76.7
No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a securely fitted protective helmet of a size proper for that person and of a type approved by the federal DOT. Such a helmet must be equipped with either a neck or chin strap and be reflectorized on both sides.
Consider the Facts about Helmet Use
- An approved helmet lets you see as far to the sides as necessary. A study of more than 900 motorcycle crashes, where 40% of the riders wore helmets, failed to find a single case in which a helmet kept a rider from spotting danger.
- Most crashes happen on short trips (less than five miles long), just a few minutes after starting out.
- Even low-speed crashes can be fatal. Most riders are going slower than 30 mph when they get injured. At these speeds, helmets can reduce both the number and the severity of head injuries by half.
- No matter what the speed, unhelmeted riders are three times more likely to die from head injuries than are riders who are wearing a DOT approved helmet at the time of the crash.
Other Motorcycle-related NJ Laws:
- Handlebars must rest below rider’s shoulders.
- Rearview mirror is required.
NJ Motor Vehicle Commission: Motorcycle – Essential information on everything from motorcycle types and rider education courses to licensing and registration.
Jersey Drives: Motorcyclists – Be a Smart Rider. Developed by the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey, this web site stresses the importance of Smart Gear, Smart Judgment and Smart Training to help keep you safe while riding on New Jersey’s roadways.
NJRIDESAFE.ORG – Tips, information and rider training information from the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission.
Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) – The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is the internationally recognized developer of the comprehensive, research-based, Rider Education and Training System.
Proper Training: The Best Defense Against Motorcycle Crashes – Developed by our safety partners at AAA and the Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey, this 10 page booklet provides a wealth of information from proper clothing and riding equipment to training and safety tips for both novice and seasoned riders.
Safety 1n Num3ers – In this motorcycle safety newsletter from NHTSA, DOT motorcycle helmet information is featured.
Motorcycle in the Mirror – A 30-second video from NHTSA depicting a motorcyclist’s inner struggle of whether to ride or not after consuming alcohol. Ride Sober or Get Pulled Over.
Railroad Crossing Safety –
Safety tips, links and sign information for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists about how to safely pass through a railroad crossing
The Detection of DWI Motorcyclists – This 20-page booklet produced by NHTSA, discusses the behavioral cues exhibited by intoxicated motorcyclists. Additionally, it can be used as a reference for riding coaches to illustrate how alcohol can negatively affect even the most basic riding skills.