How Much Greater are These Dangers for Motorcycles vs. Cars?

In the event of a collision, there is little protecting a motorcyclist beyond a helmet, appropriate clothing and good fortune. Any impact can be devastating and life-threatening.

Unsurprisingly, in an article published in The Globe & Mail in 2013, statistics showed that motorists and passengers involved in a collision are safer in a car than riding a motorcycle. Among the more notable statistics, the author states that motorcyclists in Canada are 15 times more likely to experience a crash than car drivers. As well, a motorcyclist has a 14% greater chance of being involved in a fatal collision. These numbers ought to give pause to anyone considering a motorcycle as their regular mode of travel.

Motorcyclists and drivers of cars present dangers to one another but unfortunately for motorcyclists, if a collision occurs a car, with significantly greater mass and force, holds the advantage. Motorcycles will always be at the mercy of the stronger, larger vehicles surrounding them.

Are Cars any Safer?

Highlighting the inherent risks of motorcycle travel doesn’t serve to depict cars as an entirely safe form of transportation—the dangers of motor vehicle travel are well known, and drivers, passengers, pedestrians and first responders can all attest to the dangers of our roads. Personal Injury lawyers, like the lawyers at Mackesy Smye work with motorcycle and motor vehicle accident victims every day.

Key Differences in Safety Features Between Cars and Motorcycles

In the event of a crash, a car’s body acts as a barrier and seatbelts restrain occupants, preventing them from being thrown from the vehicle. The safety guidelines enforced by Transport Canada mitigate some of the dangers that come with operating a car by regulating manufacturers. The same approach is taken with motorcycles but the regulations are limited by the design of the vehicle. For instance, because a motorcycle doesn’t have a seat back, it can’t have a seat belt or harness. There have also been attempts to install airbags in motorcycles but such a safety feature is difficult to engineer due to the lack of any kind of enclosure around the rider.

Comparing the safety features of a car with those of a motorcycle can help us understand the risks of each vehicle to their operators. Even if the purpose is just cruising through the countryside, the chance for an accident is greater with a motorcycle.

Here are a few of the safety features for most cars:

  • Airbags
  • Seatbelts
  • Anti-Lock brakes (ABS)
  • Traction Control Systems
  • Automatic and emergency braking

Here are a few of the safety features for most motorcycles:

  • LED lighting
  • Anti-Lock brakes (ABS)
  • Vololights (an intelligent brake lighting system aimed at reducing rear end collisions)

Notice the difference? The safety features of a car work together to stabilize the car while securing the passengers.  With motorcycles, protecting the occupants themselves is near-impossible. As a result, motorcyclists rely upon protective wearables such as fitted helmets, high-quality boots and gloves, leather jackets and pants and other safety apparel designed to absorb impact and prevent head injuries and abrasions.

To understand the difference in approach that cars and motorcycles take towards safety, consider how each is advertised. Car manufacturers highlight the safety features associated with a model and point to any safety awards that have been garnered. Motorcycle advertising tends to focus more on lifestyle and aesthetics.


As mentioned earlier, motorcyclists in Canada are 15 times more likely to experience a crash than someone driving a car. When such a collision occurs, motorcycles are much more poorly equipped to withstand impact and protect their riders.

The personal injury lawyers of Mackesy Smye know the dangers and risks that come with getting behind the handlebars. The results of any motorcycle accident can be devastating.

If you live in or near Hamilton and experience a motorcycle or car accident—regardless of who is at fault—it’s best to speak to one of our personal injury lawyers. Their experience and determination will help you navigate through the complex insurance litigation process.