“There’s something Darwinian about motorcycling that you don’t find with Minivans…” – Anonymous
“In the end the death rate of motorcyclists and automobile drivers is and always has been 100%” – Anonymous
The problem with motorcycles (in the US) is that it makes up just 1% of the vehicles on the road, but 19% of the fatalities… So traveling by car is reasonably safe. And riding a motorcycle is still reasonably safe (compared to your odds of getting smoking related disease for instance); nevertheless you’re still 19 times more likely to be killed in a motorcycle accident than a car accident.
So what can we do to make motorcycles safer?
Get training and develop your skills - nearly half of all motorcycle deaths are in single vehicle accidents. And, along with that, half of all motorcycle fatalities happen while trying to negotiate a curve. Someone goes too quickly around a turn and winds up driving into a divider (for instance). These are the saddest kinds of accidents because they really don’t need to happen. With proper training and riding skills, and the wisdom to ride within one’s limits, there’s no need to be in a single vehicle accident… EVER…
I’m convinced that training is the key: It is very rare for a MotoGP rider to be killed in an accident…there has only been one in recent memory (and another Japanese rider who was killed in a traffic accident involving a truck). But NONE have ever been killed in a single vehicle accident. These are highly trained riders who take lots of risks. You too can be a highly trained rider – taking fewer risks – and eliminate your likelihood of ever being part of this unfortunate statistic altogether.
Wear a Helmet - You’ll find websites that argue against mandatory helmet laws… And they’ll argue that the number of motorcycle fatalities in helmet-law states are the same or higher than states that don’t have helmet laws… That may be true! BUT… Here’s the thing: 50% of all motorcycle fatalities are people who are NOT wearing helmets, with head trauma being the main injury (National Highway Traffic Administration). So whether or not it’s a law in your state, wear a full face helmet.
Don’t Drink and Ride - People often get by driving a little tipsy… You shouldn’t do it! But people do – and they get away with it for a long time… However, you absolutely cannot, and should not ever try to ride a motorcycle under the affect of any alcohol or drugs or prescription medicines… 31% of fatal motorcycle accidents involved riders who were intoxicated. You can even do one better by not riding while exhausted…being exhausted or sleepy can be just as dangerous as being under the influence – mtorcycling requires too much concentration for that…
Notice – just by sticking to these three principles you can lessen the statistical danger of motorcycling to a level comparable with driving a car. Add to that some good safety gear, and a healthy does of common sense and you’re in suburban soccer-mom territory (with regards to safety). Accidents will happen, but with a little effort you can prepare for them and avoid the unnecessary risks that make motorcycle statistics look grim.