I’m getting very close to graduation, and I’m very excited about heading out into the real world. I’ll have my first job and start off my new career, I’ll have my own place to live and my own money, and I’ll be able to afford some of the things I’ve always wanted. One of those things is a motorcycle.
To say my mother is not thrilled about this is an understatement. She thinks that motorcycles are very dangerous. I don’t know that that’s true, but I want to ease her mind. Experts, what can you tell me about motorcycles and safety?
Motorcycles are popular vehicles, and they’re just getting more popular–there has been a rise in motorcycle registrations in the United States over the past decade. The appeal of motorcycles is obvious to many of us. Since they’re not enclosed, motorcycles allow us to feel the wind on our skin as we travel and afford beautiful views on scenic trips uninterrupted by the interiors we’d have in cars, trucks, or vans. Motorcycles can even be a good way to get through traffic in areas where lane splitting is legal.
However, motorcycles are indeed more dangerous than cars, and seeing the reasons for that isn’t hard, either. Motorcycles’ open-air ride is less safe than the ride you’d get in a car or SUV, where a metal frame protects you on all sides. Motorcycles are small, making them the losers of any car-motorcycle collision. They are light and balanced, making them easy to flip or slide. Per mile traveled, motorcycles have a fatality rate that is 29 times that of cars.
Motorcycle accidents can be devastating, and they’re not always avoidable: any motorcycle accident lawyer will tell you that accidents can be caused by negligence on the part of drivers behind the wheels of larger vehicles like cars, trucks, and SUVs. While personal injury law can be on your side as you attempt to recover funds for lost income, medical bills, and other expenses, there is no compensation that is adequate for some consequences of serious accidents. The mental and physical trauma of a bad motorcycle accident can be severe–and motorcycle accidents can also be fatal.
However, there is a great deal you can do to reduce your risk of being injured or killed in a motorcycle accident. Let’s talk about a few.
You will need to become an accomplished and careful rider. Train on safe streets, become licensed, and work your way up to busier areas. Defensive riding is even more important than defensive driving, because you are just more vulnerable to the mistakes of others when you are on a motorcycle: you are less visible and smaller, after all.
Be sure to wear proper safety gear. Motorcycle jackets aren’t just for show: they’re tough and wrist-length because they’ll protect your skin in a slide. A helmet, of course, is an absolute must: even if helmet-free riding is legal in your state, be sure to protect your brain!
When, where, and how often you ride are also major safety factors. Conditions like rain can make motorcycle travel very dangerous–it’s wise to stick to decent weather and to pull over and wait if conditions turn. Everyday commutes on a motorcycle can make dangerous odds add up, while occasional summer trips–though not always one hundred percent safe–can make your motorcycle accident odds go down just because you are riding less often (however, you should be sure to stay in practice as a rider). Slow travel on sightseeing roads is, of course, less dangerous than zooming through highway traffic.
It’s your life, of course–motorcycles are beloved by millions of enthusiasts, and you may find that they’re your passion, too. Pick a balance between safety and your love of motorcycles and reassure your mother that you’re taking reasonable steps to protect yourself.
“Safe riding– staying alive on your motorcycle.” – Mitch Williamson