Motorcycles are inherently dangerous – they move at high rates of speed, just like cars, but unlike cars they do not have a steel shell to protect your body in the event of a crash. In addition, the profile of a motorcycle is much smaller than that of a passenger vehicle, so they can be easily overlooked. This can result in crashes occurring when drivers are unaware of motorcyclists on the road. But how dangerous are motorcycles, really? And just how much of that risk is preventable?
The statistics regarding motorcycle crashes are startling. For example, although 10.05 cars per 100,000 are involved in fatal crashes, 59.34 motorcycles (per 100,000) are involved in fatal crashes.
Are Motorcycles Dangerous?
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA crash statistics) lag by several years, but in 2017 there were 5,172 fatalities of motorcycle riders and 89,000 injuries. These statistics show that an alarming number of motorcyclists are killed each year. Per mile traveled, bikers are 27 times more likely to die in a traffic collision than motor vehicle passengers.
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There are, however, some ways to help protect yourself from injury or fatality. Many motorcycle riders are killed as a result of head trauma. Wearing a helmet has been proven to greatly reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury and death. In addition to helmets, there is more protective motorcycle gear on the market now than ever before.
Protective pads, body armor, kidney belts, specialized riding boots and gloves, and jackets with reflective trips are all great additions that will reduce your risk of being injured in a motorcycle crash. In the past, these components were bulky and heavy, and made riding uncomfortable. Now they are lightweight, encourage air flow, and can be worn comfortably.
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Alcohol and speeding both play a large role in motorcycle and other vehicular crashes. Alcohol impairs riders and slows response time. In doing so, it greatly increases the rate of crashes. Excess speed prevents motorcyclists from responding to threats on the road, and increases the likelihood of a motorcycle crashing into another vehicle.
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Sport bikes are statistically more likely to be involved in crashes than touring bikes, for example, largely because of the riding styles of those who choose these bikes. If you want to enjoy a nice, leisurely motorcycle ride through the countryside you are less likely to be involved in a crash than someone racing their sport bike through traffic late at night.
Antilock brakes, included on many late-model bikes, also help to prevent crashes. Studies have shown that motorcycles with anti-lock brakes are 37 percent less likely to be involved in motorcycle crashes with fatalities. Just as in cars, anti-lock brakes help reduce braking distance and increase the amount of control a biker has as they brake. They also help provide traction on slick surfaces like wet pavement or gravel.
We know that helmets, proper gear, alcohol avoidance, riding at proper speeds, and anti-lock brakes all help reduce the risk of being involved in a motorcycle crash. What about motorcycle safety courses? Studies here have been a little murky. Some studies have shown little, if any, improvement in the reduction of crashes after bikers take a safety course. Other studies do show some decrease. It may be a matter of the quality and length of the courses.
Some motorcycle safety courses are brief and are little more than just watching a few movies prior to taking your test for licensure. Others are more complex, occurring over a weekend or more, as the biker learns how to handle a number of complex road situations. It’s likely that classes that give bikers the ability to experience first-hand potential crash situations do help reduce the rate of crashes.
Although the data shows that cars and trucks are statistically safer, risks can be minimized by making good choices. Driving a motorcycle safely, therefore, is probably a better choice than driving a car in a reckless manner.
At Kass & Moses, we know well the thrill of riding a motorcycle. For most of us in the biker community, we willingly accept the risk for the freedom we feel when we are on our bike. We encourage everyone to ride aware, reduce their risk of crashes by making safe choices, and ride with an experienced team on their side.
When it comes to motorcycle crashes, the team at Kass & Moses are only a phone call to 1-800-MOTORCYCLE away! If you or a loved one have been injured in a motorcycle crash, call us and we will help guide you through the process of your insurance claim. We know bikers because we ride, too! Let us help guide you on the road to recovery.