BC motorcycle deaths saw 50 per cent increase in 2018

According to numbers from the BC Coroners Service, motorcycle deaths took a significant increase in 2018 over 2017.

In 2018, the Coroners Service says 51 motorcyclists died in crashes in BC. That’s up from 34 motorcyclist deaths in 2017, and higher than any other year in the past decade. A look at the study shows that most years, fatalities number in the 30s.

According to the report, there were 314 vehicle-related deaths in 2018 in total in British Columbia, a small increase over 2017, but under the decade’s average of 326 deaths.

That puts motorcycle fatalities at roughly 16 per cent of total driving deaths in 2018.

What does it mean?

The numbers from BC are sad, but it would be useful to know more context. What’s the average age of the motorcycle crash victim? While crashes have been up in some jurisdictions in recent years, and down in others, the most noticeable and consistent trend we’ve seen has been an increase in the average age of the crash victim. The report notes the age groupings of the entire range of crash victims, but doesn’t narrow in on the motorcycle segment.

For decades, motorcycle crashes were often blamed on young, inexperienced riders. However, many articles and studies in North America (for instance, this 2018 report from the Governors Highway Safety Association in the US) have noted a hike in the number of crash victims over the age of 40.

Other valuable information we’d like to see is the cause of the accidents. When Ontario saw its notable spike in motorcycle fatalities in 2017, the provincial police pointed out that 22 of the 48 fatal crashes on OPP-patrolled roads were caused by cagers, not motorcyclists.

One other piece of context: according to the coroners’ report, there were 58 pedestrian deaths in BC in 2018. While it would be silly and facetious to say it’s safer to ride to work than to walk, the fact remains that when you’re on the public roadways, there are no guarantees of safety, no matter how you’re getting from A to B.

10 thoughts on “BC motorcycle deaths saw 50 per cent increase in 2018”

  1. Sad but Really in the last month 65% plus riders I ve seen aren’t wearing protective gear or at least not much of anything at all. Jeans / pants , leather vest , maybe gloves or 1/2 or 3/4 helmets . 1/2 or 3/4 helmets leave key parts of your head up protected. Really I dont understand why ICBC hasn’t pass a law that you must wear full gear. Give a rider a discount if they ve got the protective gear . Nor do I understand why ICBC rates bike by cc instead of horsepower? A 300 cc scooter can have more power then a royal enfield 410 cc bike . . It’s not like you can’t but a full set of gear online or clist for under 250 bucks. Yah it’s your skin etc but ICBC takes it out of everyone wallet when your crash.
    Everyone going to crash it’s just a matter of when it happens ! Next week or 10 years for now.

  2. Motorcycle accident and fatality numbers over time should always be studied by adjusting for the changes in numbers of motorcycles licensed for the road each year in the particular area being examined. In this case of British Columbia, the motorcycle licensing numbers increased by a few thousands per year from 2008 to 2015 reaching just over 100,000 registrations in the latter year. In 2016 total motorcycle registrations increased to a 120,132 total. Sales of new motorcycles were 10,237, suggesting that a considerable number of used, but not relicensed in 2015 motorcycles came back on the road. Registrations for 2017 and 2018 are not available yet but the sales of new motorcycles in BC in 2017 were 10,414 and a further 10,397 in 2018. It would seem likely that by the end of 2018 there were perhaps 135,000 licensed motorcycles in BC.
    Why the increase? The high cost of gasoline ($1.60/litre?) would be one factor. Weather could be another.

    Looking at the annual numbers of motorcyclist fatalities in BC, related to the numbers of licensed motorcycles in the 2008 to 2015 period in the coroner’s report gives figures of fatalities per 100,000 motorcycles of from 56.5 to 28.3 – an average of 40 per 100,000 licensed motorcycles. Estimating the numbers of licensed motorcycles in BC in 2018 at somewhere in the 130,000 to 135,000 would give a figure per 100,000 of between 39.2 and 37.8 fatalities. This is about the longer term average for BC.

    The latest (2015-2016) motorcyclist fatality figures for the province of Ontario – per 100,000 licensed motorcycles are 23.6 and 23.4 with 239,796 motorcycles licensed in 2016.

    Some US figures for 2017 California – 62.8, Florida – 100.7, New York – 37.0, Pennsylvania – 49.6, Michigan – 58.1, Texas – 134.2.

    AFJ

    1. “Some US figures for 2017 California – 62.8, Florida – 100.7, New York – 37.0, Pennsylvania – 49.6, Michigan – 58.1, Texas – 134.2.”

      Higher numbers in states with no helmets laws ? Hmmm…..

      1. To some extent, states where there is a mild enough climate for year-round motorcycling, somewhat higher numbers would be expected. In states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan which abandoned a universal helmet law in favour of an “Adult-optional” the fatality/100,000 licensed motorcycles figures have increased in recent years since the change. There have been lots of studies of the effect of optional helmet laws in various US states and besides the increased fatality rates, the costs of hospitalization, treatment and rehabilitation per injured motorcyclist have been shown to have increased. The increased costs appear to be particularly related to more severe head trauma requiring more prolonged treatment.

        AFJ

  3. Wondering what the average amount of kms per year would be ridden on a bike as opposed to driving the average car? Stats would be even more shocking then I would imagine. Thinking around 8,000 compared to 20,000.

  4. “However, many articles and studies in North America (for instance, this 2018 report from the Governors Highway Safety Association in the US) have noted a hike in the number of crash victims over the age of 40.”

    I wonder how many of the over 40s could still be classed as new riders ? It would also be interesting to see this information broken down by type of bike ridden.

    1. Yeah, also very good questions, Scott. I would really like to work with a university specializing in transportation research to break down the numbers further, but it’s hard to find people interested in working on these projects long-term.

      1. The Hurt Report (decades ago) provided a lot of useful information for the time. Hard to believe no one is out there doing the same thing now.

        1. The study’s findings were extremely eye-opening. Among other results, Hurt found that:
          The majority of single-vehicle accidents were due to the driver of the motorcycle not understanding his or her abilities – driving too fast, breaking at the wrong times, or taking curves in the wrong way.
          Fifty percent of accidents involved driving under the influence.
          Unlike other vehicle accidents (such as commercial trucks) very few motorcycle accidents were attributed to weather, equipment failure, or bad road conditions. However, the study did take place in a mild climate without snow or ice.
          Many accidents were caused because the drivers of larger vehicles did not see the motorcyclist. Most multi-vehicle accidents involved cars or truck crossing the path of a motorcycle by changing lanes or turning into the bike’s path.
          Wearing helmets and other durable riding gear helped lessen injuries significantly.

          http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~john/vfr/hurt.html

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