Close this search box.


Watch for motorcycles! The effects of texting and handheld bans on motorcyclist fatalities

Despite the relatively small proportion of motorcycles among all motor vehicles and miles driven, motorcyclists account for a large proportion of traffic fatalities within the United States. Using state-specific traffic fatality data from 2005-2015 (N=550), this research examines how motorcyclists may be vulnerable to the risks posed by other distracted drivers. Data was collected from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and merged with state-specific crash characteristics, texting and handheld device laws, and other traffic policies. Data was used to estimate the effects of handheld and texting bans on both motorcyclist and non-motorcyclist fatalities. In 2015, the final year of data collection, fourteen states had already adopted strong texting and handheld bans for all drivers.

Findings indicate that motorcyclists are at an increased risk of being a victim of distracted drivers. This is primarily the result of multiple-vehicle collisions between motorcycles and other vehicles as opposed to single-vehicle crashes. In these crashes, it is often not the motorcyclist who was driving while distracted. Results suggest strong texting/handheld bans have a significant negative effect on motorcyclist fatality rates, with effect sizes ranging from 5.5% to 10.3%. Lastly, if all states adopted strong texting and handheld bans, approximately 173 motorcyclist fatalities could be prevented annually. Ultimately these results provide evidence that texting and handheld bans are effective in protecting motorcycle drivers.

French, M. T., & Gumus, G. (2018). Watch for motorcycles! The effects of texting and handheld bans on motorcyclist fatalities. Social Science & Medicine, 216, 81-87.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Explore More DIAD Research & Technology Posts


The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of mobile-based infotainment systems on driving performance. The study was comprised of two experiments, one...


The purpose of this study was to determine if in-ground Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) embedded into pathways are an effective solution in attracting the attention...


The objective of this research was to review current scientific evidence concerning the effectiveness of existing and emerging distracted driving countermeasures. A literature search was...

TIRF’s research & educational tools support the work of communities across Canada.

Your donations & our work enable them to spend less time looking for answers & more time developing & implementing road safety strategies.