Mid-America Transportation Center


Date of this Version


Document Type



Report # MATC-KSU: 253 Final Report 25-1121-0001-253


2012 Copyright of Mid-America Transportation Center


Over the past few years, motorcycle fatalities have increased at an alarming rate in the United States. Motorcycle safety issues in Kansas are no different from the national scenario. Accordingly, this study examines motorcycle crashes in Kansas in order to identify and evaluate critical crash-related factors and subsequent impacts on motorcycle crash injury outcomes. State-level motorcycle rider fatality rates were investigated while considering various factors including helmet laws, using generalized least-squares regression modeling. A detailed characteristic analysis was carried out for motorcycle crashes, using Kansas crash data. Comparisons were made between several aspects of motorcycle crashes and other vehicle crashes. Logistic regression analyses were performed on Kansas motorcycle crash data to identify factors affecting fatal motorcycle crashes. In addition, a survey was administered to motorcyclists in order to gather information on rider behaviors and helmet usage patterns, as well as their perceptions regarding helmet laws in Kansas, potential problems associated with the law, crash-related factors, and the level of difficulty in executing various motorcycle maneuvers. Ordered probit modeling was used to identify factors contributing to the increased severity of injuries sustained by motorcycle riders involved in crashes. Results from state-based modeling showed statistically significant relations between motorcycle fatality rates in a given state and crash-related factors such as weather-related conditions, helmet laws, per capita income, highway mileage of rural roads, population density, education, demographic distributions, and motorcycle registrations in the state. States with mandatory helmet laws had 5.6% fewer motorcycle fatalities per 10,000 motorcycle registrations and 7.85% fewer motorcycle fatalities for every 100,000 in a given population. Characteristic analysis of motorcycle crashes in Kansas revealed that motorcycle maneuvers such as overtaking, motorcyclists being older than 40 years, not using motorcycle helmets, daytime riding, crashes occurring on roadside shoulders, and influence of alcohol among the riders during crashes increased the risk of crash fatalities. Survey results showed that 71% of motorcyclist respondents perceived drivers of other vehicles as the single biggest threat to their own safety. Moreover, 64% opposed legislation that would require motorcycle riders and passengers in Kansas to wear helmets. The ordered probit model results indicate that overturned and fixed-object motorcycle crashes, not wearing a helmet, being younger in age, speeding, good weather, as well as being under the influence of alcohol significantly contributed to increased severity of motorcyclist crash-related injuries in Kansas.