# Which is safer motorcycles or GA?

## Which is Safer, motorcycle or GA?

• ### Why would you let your family ride in/on either?

• Total voters
185

#### jaymark6655

##### Pre-takeoff checklist
I keep seeing that GA is just as fatal as riding a motorcycle. Vote and if you have proof, post it. I didn't vote yet, but here is my proof.

http://www.meretrix.com/~harry/flying/notes/safetyvsdriving.html

I used data from this link and his methods for comparison, but only focusing on the motorcycle data and not all vehicle transportation.

19.7 fatalities per million hours of flying
38.8 fatalities per 100M miles of riding
average GA speed 150mph or average bike speed of 45mph (closer to my average commute speed)

13.1 GA fatalities per 100M miles flown vs 38.8 motorcycle fatalities per 100M miles ridden
or
19.7 GA fatalities per million hours of flying vs 17.46 motorcycle fatalities per million hours of riding

average speed assumptions would change these numbers, but in one instance GA looks better and in the other comparison they look almost the same.

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I did the math a while back and came to your similar conclusion. Fatal accidents are about the same rate in light aircraft and motorcycles. My only observation is that I feel I'm much more in command of my pwn destiny in an airplane than I am trying to avoid cagers who are trying to kill me while on two wheels.

I'd say just on the number of wrecks with survivable injuries, motorcycles are more dangerous. I pick up bike wrecks from the side of the road on almost a bi-weekly basis, yet I've never responded to a plane wreck.

Don't have any problems with people choosing to ride but from the injuries that I've seen, I could never do it.

define "safer"

define "safer"
I was looking at deaths, but more likely to have an accident or more likely to be injured would be interesting too.

...I used data from this link and his methods for comparison, but only focusing on the motorcycle data and not all vehicle transportation...

The study is from 2005, with data from 2004. This is BEFORE texting really became prevalent. I would expect data, especially motorcycle data, to show more fatalities per hour or mile.

Macro view I'd say about the same.

Micro view, I'm probably safer on the bike as I have many more hours[1] on the bike than in the plane[2] and have been in many situations.

[1] I stopped counting two-wheeled miles when I crossed 500kmi five or six years back. Say average 45mph, that's 11,000+ hours on motorcycles.

[2] Pilot hours in the 400's.

Do the motorcycle stats take into consideration,of the use of a helmet?

I'm with Ron- the statistical risk is similar, but I can control the risk better in an airplane than on a bike.

Given that most opportunities for accidents/incidents in aircraft are at much higher speeds than motorcycles, the basic risk of death or injury is higher for aircraft than for motorcycle.... at least wrt to unmitigated risks.

Statistical risk is similar.

For me however.
I only fly in good weather.
I always fly with more than enough fuel.
I don't do stupid pilot tricks or show off.
I don't fly at night. (have no need at this point)
I fly well maintained airplanes.

So I would say that eliminates a large number of the fatal GA accidents and thus makes it generally safer for me than riding a motorcycle.

Having said that A LOT of motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the rider where A LOT of GA accidents are the fault of the pilot. Nobody is immune from a bout of stupidity or loss of focus.

It's hard to say since there are probably ten thousand people more who ride motorcycles for each pilot.

And it depends on if you are riding a motorcycle in the country or Houston for example.

I am rarely ever scared flying. I would be petrified cycling in Houston.

I'd say just on the number of wrecks with survivable injuries, motorcycles are more dangerous. I pick up bike wrecks from the side of the road on almost a bi-weekly basis, yet I've never responded to a plane wreck.

That's because more hours/miles are spent on bikes than in GA. The "rate" is about the same. I've certainly scraped up a bunch of bikers when I was a paramedic as well. I have also responded to a couple of plane crashes. But if you want to gauge the rate of occurrence based solely on my paramedic experience DRUNK DRIVERS KILLING PEOPLE occur more often than anything else.

Of course, if you want to compute "personal acquaintance anecdotes" I've had more friends put in the trauma center on motorcycles than airplanes. However, I've had more friends killed in plane crashes.

I've seen accidents waiting to happen using both methods of transportation.

I would like to think that I am one of those who is sufficiently prudent to avoid most of the common causes of accidents in either, but, statistically, we tend to be poor judges of our own capability.

btw - rate is not the same as risk

I'd say just on the number of wrecks with survivable injuries, motorcycles are more dangerous. I pick up bike wrecks from the side of the road on almost a bi-weekly basis, yet I've never responded to a plane wreck.
But the number of people who ride motorcycles far outnumber the people flying small airplanes...

Do the motorcycle stats take into consideration,of the use of a helmet?

I was thinking the same thing. The statistics are for fatalities, no just accidents. I'd like to see the results when adjusted for helmet law vs no helmet law states.

I'm with Ron- the statistical risk is similar, but I can control the risk better in an airplane than on a bike.

I agreed with you, until I saw this:

http://www.iii.org/issue-update/motorcycle-crashes

If you don't drink, don't ride at night, always wear a helmet, and don't speed, the risk is reduced dramatically on motorcycles, much lower than GA.

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But the number of people who ride motorcycles far outnumber the people flying small airplanes...

Bingo.

My wife wont let me get a motorcycle. Trust me we had that conversation many times. I could say "I'm a man and I do what I want" Guess where that would get me. She would worry to much anyway.

When it comes to flying she doesn't worry.

My wife wont let me get a motorcycle. Trust me we had that conversation many times. I could say "I'm a man and I do what I want"

When we got married I had three bikes in the garage, I told her it was a package deal. Have one right now, but I vary between one and three depending on what catches my eye.

I'd say it depends. I rode a motorcycle to school and work for several year. maybe a total of 20k miles. Never came close to wrecking myself, but I did have a few cars merge or turn in front of me. When I was younger, I wouldn't think twice about it, but I'd be a little leery of riding one in congested areas all the time.

I voted GA safer but, personally, I think I'm safer on a motorcycle than in an airplane. I started riding motorcycles on New York streets at about 16 and consider myself pretty good at watching out for myself in in traffic and taking stupid drivers into consideration. Loud and, to a degree, fast; they can't kill you if they can't catch you and, if they're cursing at you, at least you're sure they see you. When I was younger, I dropped the bike a few times pushing limits and doing stupid stuff but always a solo crash. Much less apt to do that these days. In an airplane, there are just so many ways to get in trouble especially if you don't fly frequently.

But the number of people who ride motorcycles far outnumber the people flying small airplanes...

Obviously. I'm saying I believe the accident rate (per capita) where NON FATAL injuries are present, is most likely higher in motorcycles than GA. The stats above only cover fatalities.

A huge percentage of motorcycle accidents involve alcohol. Airplane accidents are about running into weather and out of gas.

Remember, you can still pull a bike over at the side of the road.

I guess what I feel is that GA is much more tolerant of a lower degree of competency than riding a motorcycle in an urban environment is. Especially on an hour by hour basis. I know plenty of half-assed pilots that fly an hour or less a month on a nice day in an airplane maintained by someone else and they do just fine. And they'll probably continue to do just fine. I think a half-assed motorcycle pilot that rides occasionally in urban traffic is much more at risk.

This old can of worms. This GA vs Motorcycle thing has been hashed over and over in dozens of threads.

You can toss out unrepresentative accidents on both sides. As far as I can tell, the author of that post didn't account for different varieties of airplane crashes either. It would be 'helpful 'on both sides to toss out suicides and on the aircraft side to throw out the extremely negligent crashes or crashes of airplanes that are very unusual or risky or especially avoidable. Some people toss out E-AB crashes altogether, for example. The externalities for a pilot vs motorcycle are totally different so what do we learn by comparing them?

Motorcycles - asymptotically approaching always - carry only one person. So they almost never kill more than one person per fatal accident. Airplanes far more often take out passengers along with the pilot. So what are we learning by comparing fatalities in fundamentally different modes of transport? Given that difference, is the fatal crash rate or total fatality rate more informative? Depends on what you are trying to learn.

Are the pilot vs rider populations similar? Similar age? Similar training? Similar externalities? No way.

Then there is the denominator problem. The GA fatality rate will go up if the denominator goes down even with the same number of fatalities. That's one huge advantage of the airline stats - they're flying brazillions of miles per year - their denominator is enormous. GA's denominator, be it miles flown or hours flown, is shrinking each year. The motorcycle riders' denominator is different too. There are far more riders than there are pilots.

The other differences between GA and airline are obvious - differences in aircraft type, equipment, and pilot training.

I think it is far more informative to break down aviation statistics in ways that inform me as to my own level of risk. RLOC, VFR into IMC, CFIT, thunderstorms, icing, etc.

What risks must I accept (e.g., single engine, piston, avionics, etc) and how can I mitigate them? We talk about this stuff on here all the time. It's probably a big reason why we contribute to PoA.

Telling GA pax that they are no safer than getting on a motorcycle is misleading. It isn't even true if you're taking off on a nice sunny day with light winds to go for a burger. Just compare your flight profile with the common causes of GA crashes and let the motorcycle riders compare theirs to the causes of their crashes. Intermingling the stats just doesn't tell us anything useful.

I didn't vote in the poll because I don't think that old comparison is worth propagating.

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The number of fatalities for Motorcycles will always be higher as a total number of fatalities per 100 miles traveled because the number of riders is higher than the number of pilots. I believe you would need to look at it as the % of fatalities per the total number of active pilots and % of fatalities per the total number of active riders.

Note I said active riders and active pilots a lot of registered bikes and planes sit in garages and hangars.

I don't care about the statistics, I FEEL safer in the air than on a motorcycle. I am more comfortable with the risks of flying than the risks of riding. My reasoning is that I have more control and can manage the risk of flying vs the motorcycles. I see a lot more idiots driving erratically than I do pilots.

One problem with the analysis is that by definition the GA number includes both Cubs and Conquests, hamburger runs and Reno races, etc. If you want a more meaningful number for "little airplanes" then you should probably collect the stats for the types of planes you fly (e.g. 172/182/PA28/SR22/DA40/etc if you're ASEL, PC12/PA46/TBM/etc if you burn kerosene, and so forth)

I had a good friend who like me loved to ride fast motorcycles when younger, I stopped riding them he didn't, he used to say to me, you must be crazy flying one of those little airplanes, I said no more crazy than you riding your bike....
Last October I read the eulogy at his funeral, he died in a road accident !

I don't care about the statistics, I FEEL safer in the air than on a motorcycle. I am more comfortable with the risks of flying than the risks of riding. My reasoning is that I have more control and can manage the risk of flying vs the motorcycles. I see a lot more idiots driving erratically than I do pilots.

Makes perfect sense. You understand the risks and externalities of an airplane better than those of a motorcycle. And you understand how to mitigate them for aircraft more than for a motorcycle. A motorcycle rider, obviously, might feel pretty unsafe in a small airplane because s/he knows relatively less about the risks.

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A huge percentage of motorcycle accidents involve alcohol. Airplane accidents are about running into weather and out of gas.

Remember, you can still pull a bike over at the side of the road.

challenge accepted. I'm going to fly my plane on low fuel into bad weather while intoxicated.

I don't care about the statistics, I FEEL safer in the air than on a motorcycle. I am more comfortable with the risks of flying than the risks of riding. My reasoning is that I have more control and can manage the risk of flying vs the motorcycles. I see a lot more idiots driving erratically than I do pilots.

I most definitely don't feel safer in the air. It takes a lot of skill to bring it back down to the ground without hurting anyone inside. Moreover, lots of things can go wrong well outside my control. Engine takes a dump over hostile terrain or water, I'm either colliding with cumulogranite or possibly drowning, for instance.

You might say that a motorcycle rider is subject to the stuff cagers do around him (or her). I'd say depends on the bike. There are bikes that are loaded down and slow, and can't easily outrun or outmaneuver the surrounding cars. They are in the minority, though. Most bikes can accelerate more quickly, turn tighter, stop shorter, and in just about every way outmaneuver the vehicles around it. Most bikes, if paying attention (and sober) can easily avoid collisions with even the most witless drivers around them. Heck, where I live lots of people have no clue where they're going and often initiate actions that will result in a collision with me if I don't do something. Happens about every other ride these days (#@%#\$^\$@#!! screens!) but I'm still upright. Won' the giving up my sport bike anytime soon, though.

I most definitely don't feel safer in the air. It takes a lot of skill to bring it back down to the ground without hurting anyone inside. Moreover, lots of things can go wrong well outside my control. Engine takes a dump over hostile terrain or water, I'm either colliding with cumulogranite or possibly drowning, for instance.

You might say that a motorcycle rider is subject to the stuff cagers do around him (or her). I'd say depends on the bike. There are bikes that are loaded down and slow, and can't easily outrun or outmaneuver the surrounding cars. They are in the minority, though. Most bikes can accelerate more quickly, turn tighter, stop shorter, and in just about every way outmaneuver the vehicles around it. Most bikes, if paying attention (and sober) can easily avoid collisions with even the most witless drivers around them. Heck, where I live lots of people have no clue where they're going and often initiate actions that will result in a collision with me if I don't do something. Happens about every other ride these days (#@%#\$^\$@#!! screens!) but I'm still upright. Won' the giving up my sport bike anytime soon, though.
But the one motorcycle fatality I knew well was rear-ended by a drunk driver while stopped. She had full gear on and a nice BMW. So there are obviously exceptions.

I had a motorcycle when I lived in semi-rural Missouri. I got rid of it when I moved to suburban Denver because it just wasn't enjoyable riding it in traffic.

or accidents involving animals, I have had two in the past three years. My wife always says, "I am not worried about you killing yourself, its all the other people and the deer that I worry about killing you."

Dependent on skill level of course, GA.

I ride as well as drive more delicate cars and frankly it's not me crashing that scares me, it's the housewife with 3 kids in her minivan who is oblivious to anything that isn't directly in front of her face.

In aviation you're not flying within yards of other planes, and the qualifications to be a pilot mixed with the demographics, yeah GA is quite safer.

I'm happier with my fate being in my hands than I am relying on other drivers and wildlife to stay out of my way.

Besides, we know what kills people in GA. It's taking chances and flying in iffy weather. Just don't do that.

I was in a fairly decent motorcycle crash about eight years ago. I had a guy cut me off. I hit the brakes, locked up the front tire, and went over the handlebars at about 40 mph. It was Thursday July 17th at 7:30 AM in 2008. It was already approaching 100 degrees here in the desert. I was wearing my helmet, a T-shirt, jeans and tennis shoes. I had no gloves on. I lost the top layer of skin on both arms from my palms to between my elbows and shoulders. I also just about broke my ankle. The recovery from the road rash was the most painful thing I have ever experienced in my entire life.

Whether on a motorcycle, or in an airplane, there are lots of things you can do to reduce your risk past the baseline level. But! there are a lot more things you can do to reduce your risk in the airplane. Most of the things that will kill you in an airplane are the result of decisions you make. Most of the things that will kill you on a motorcycle are the result of decisions other people make.

As far as the poll is concerned, I voted that they are basically the same risk. I believe that on average, when you look at deaths per passenger mile travelled that is an accurate statement. Of course, it doesn't tell the whole story though.

I most definitely don't feel safer in the air. It takes a lot of skill to bring it back down to the ground without hurting anyone inside. Moreover, lots of things can go wrong well outside my control. Engine takes a dump over hostile terrain or water, I'm either colliding with cumulogranite or possibly drowning, for instance.

You might say that a motorcycle rider is subject to the stuff cagers do around him (or her). I'd say depends on the bike. There are bikes that are loaded down and slow, and can't easily outrun or outmaneuver the surrounding cars. They are in the minority, though. Most bikes can accelerate more quickly, turn tighter, stop shorter, and in just about every way outmaneuver the vehicles around it. Most bikes, if paying attention (and sober) can easily avoid collisions with even the most witless drivers around them. Heck, where I live lots of people have no clue where they're going and often initiate actions that will result in a collision with me if I don't do something. Happens about every other ride these days (#@%#\$^\$@#!! screens!) but I'm still upright. Won' the giving up my sport bike anytime soon, though.

I am going to respectfully disagree with you regarding the safety of airplanes; particularly with this statement, "Moreover, lots of things can go wrong well outside my control. Engine takes a dump over hostile terrain or water, I'm either colliding with cumulogranite or possibly drowning, for instance."

This is not what causes most aviation accidents. This is the thing that everyone is afraid of, but it is not the thing that kills pilots. It actually is the cause of only a very small portion of airplane accidents. Pilots making poor choices, particularly associated with weather, is what kills people that die in GA crashes.