Motorcycles: Worth the Risk?
Motorcycle Accidents and Prevention
While stuck in the endless sea of cars of our daily work commute, you notice a few motorcyclists cutting through the endless crawl of traffic, and you sit there helplessly daydreaming about how cool it would be to own a motorcycle. I mean why not consider investing in a motorcycle? The benefits seem to clearly outweigh the disadvantages, right?
There are still many people out there that aren’t aware of how dangerous motorcycles are compared to cars. But how much more dangerous are they, and what risks are drivers taking when they are the owner of a Harley or a Kawasaki bike?
To compare the stats of car accidents and motorcycle accidents, the amount of motorcycle-related fatalities is and has been more prevalent than car crash fatalities. Recorded accident data from 2016 shows there’s a 28 percent greater chance that a motorcycle crash will result in a fatality when compared to a car crash. Surprisingly, the likelihood of dying in a motorcycle crash is 37 times more likely than dying in a car accident.
Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
The reason why motorcyclists have a higher chance of an accident is because of the way their bikes are designed and how they run on the road. It’s a two-wheeled vehicle, with no outer shell to protect the rider, that’s capable of easily hitting speeds over 170 miles per hour. These bikes also require a significant amount of coordination and balance, and since it’s more physically demanding to ride a motorized bike, the chances of a wreck are intimidatingly high when a rider is distracted, exhausted, or visually impaired.
There’s even a high rate of motorcycle accidents when a rider isn’t impaired or at fault. One of the most common types of motorcycle crashes in the United States are ones where cars did not see a passing motorcyclist in their blind spot. A car making a lane change or a left-hand turn has the potential to kill or seriously injure a motorcycle rider. We hear about these types of accidents quite often, and the reason being is because motorcycles are harder to spot on the road due to their size.
Motorcycles are here to stay.
As dangerous as they appear, motorcycles are constantly manufactured worldwide and sold to over 15 million people per year. Those who may be reading this, could be the current or future owner of a motorcycle or motorized bike.
Nothing’s going to stop people from riding these things. If riders, however, understood and applied the best safety measures for their own protection and the safety of others, the chance of causing a serious motorcycle accident could potentially decrease. Seeing this realistically, the chances are still very high, but there are many things motorcycle riders could do to help them avoid a fatal accident or a catastrophic injury.
Decreasing the Chances of a Serious or Fatal Accident
Like I said before, the most common accidents involving motorcycles are ones where the motorcyclist was not seen by another driver. Riders can decrease the odds of ending up in a blindside car accident by anticipating the other driver’s actions.
Always keep a distance and an eye on vehicles in front of you. The greater the distance, the greater the reaction time. Always ride strategically.
In relation to driving strategically and defensively, there are four easy-to-follow safety rules that the National Safety Council developed for motorcycle riders to use to avoid head on collisions.
They are the “Four Rs” as follows:
- Read the Road Ahead: Keep a good amount of distance and always have a good look of what’s ahead of you. Use signals, flash your lights or use your horn as a way to alert any drivers in around you.
- Drive to the Right: When on the right side of the road, drivers have a better chance of seeing you when they are passing by. In case of an emergency it will also give you the opportunity to escape to the shoulder if necessary.
- Reduce Speed: Slow and cautious driving gives you better control, more time to react and can reduce the impact of a collision.
- Ride off the Road: Always be ready to drive off the road in order to avoid an accident from happening. To avoid skidding, slowly reduce your speed and merge onto the shoulder.
Avoid riding while intoxicated! Alcohol or anything that can impair your judgement, vision, coordination, or alertness must be avoided before riding. This includes prescription medications. About 43 percent of motorcycle related accidents are the result of riding intoxicated.
Be cautious when turning corners. There’s been thousands of incidents where a motorcycle lost control because it took a corner too fast. Remember to reduce your speed when going into the turn, and gradually accelerate when exiting. Never slam on the breaks. You might risk sliding into a road hazard or busy lane. If you take a corner too fast, do not panic. Just trust the bike, lean into the turn and follow through.
Try to make yourself as visible as possible to other drivers, especially at night. Always remember to use your headlights, blinkers, and horn to communicate with other drivers you’re sharing the road with, and always ride in spots where you are the most visible to others. Stay out of the blind spots (avoid riding beside cars entirely if traffic allows you).
Motorcycles are still one of the most dangerous vehicles on the highway, yet there are millions of motorcycle owners in the United States alone. By applying these tips, riders are capable of reducing the rate of motorcycle-related accidents and motorcycle related fatalities on the highway.