Abstract The growth of motorcycle fatalities in California has been especially prominent, specifically with regard to the 24 and under age group and those aged 45–54. This research quantitatively examined factors associated with motorcyclist fatalities and assessed strategies that could improve motorcyclist safety, specifically focusing on the two age groups mentioned above. Severity of injury was estimated separately for both age groups with multinomial logit models and pseudo-elasticity using motorcycle-related collision data that was collected between 2005 and 2009. The results were compared with motorcyclists aged 35–44, a group that shows a consistent trend of fatalities. This research found that lack or improper use of helmets, victim ejection, alcohol/drug effects, collisions (head-on, broadside, hit-object), and truck involvement were more likely to result in fatal injuries regardless of age group. Weekend and non-peak hour activity was found to have a strong effect in both the younger and older age groups. Two factors, movement of running off the road preceding a collision and multi-vehicle involvement, were found to be statistically significant factors in increasing older motorcyclist fatalities. Use of street lights in the dark was found to decrease the probability of severe injury for older motorcyclists. Driver type of victim, at-fault driver, local road, and speed violation were significant factors in increasing the fatalities of younger motorcyclists. Road conditions and collision location factors were not found to be statistically significant to motorcyclist fatalities. Based on the statistically significant factors identified in this research, the following safety strategies appear to be effective methods of reducing motorcyclist fatalities: public education of alcohol use, promoting helmet use, enforcing heavy vehicle and speed violations, improving roadway facilities, clearer roadway guidance and street lighting systems, and motorcyclist training.