The National Academies

NCHRP 22-26 [Completed]

Factors Related to Serious Injury and Fatal Motorcycle Crashes with Traffic Barriers

  Project Data
Funds: $500,000
Research Agency: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Principal Investigator: H. Clay Gabler
Effective Date: 5/1/2009
Completion Date: 11/30/2020



Although limited, research appears to indicate that motorcycle riders are dramatically overrepresented in the number of serious injuries and fatalities resulting from guardrail impacts.  Not much is known about impacts with other types of traffic barriers (e.g., concrete barriers, cable barriers, bridge rails, crash cushions, and end terminals).  Many factors related to motorcycle crashes make analysis difficult, for example:


  • Motorcycle usage, roadway design, and crash data collection practices differ among states.
  • Typical coding on crash reports may not reflect the actual sequence of events and cause of injury. It may be unclear if both the motorcycle and the motorcyclist impacted the barrier or if the motorcyclist separated from the motorcycle prior to striking the barrier.
  • Impact with the barrier may not have been the most harmful event.

There is virtually no in-depth analysis of data describing motorcycle crashes involving traffic barriers in the United States.  This lack of crash data analysis prevents an understanding of injury mechanisms in motorcycle-barrier crashes.  As such, an in-depth investigation is needed of serious injury and fatal motorcycle crashes involving traffic barriers.


The objective of this research was to identify factors contributing to serious injury and fatal motorcycle collisions with traffic barriers.

STATUS: Research is complete; final report is pending publication.

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