Motorcycling has become one of the most popular forms of powersports in recent years, but that’s easy to tell from the over 6 million motorcycles currently registered in the United States! Motorcycling is a very fuel efficient method of transportation, and its low ownership and maintenance costs make it an ideal option for fair weather commuting. But for all its benefits, operating a motorcycle carries with it some unique risks and challenges. To ride safely, a driver should first seek out the proper training and safety equipment.
Across the country, motorcycle-related fatalities make up over eleven percent of all highway fatalities each year. Although this might not sound like an unusually high number, it’s important to remember that motorcycles only represent approximately three percent of all motor vehicles which are registered in the United States. One of the main reasons for this disparity is the fact that the motorcycle itself is too small to provide any significant protection during a crash. With no seatbelts, airbags, doors or protective areas, an operator is much more exposed on a motorcycle. As a result, nearly eighty percent of reported motorcycle crashes have resulted in at least one injury or death. With cars, trucks, or SUVs, this number is much lower, more like twenty percent.
It doesn’t take an engineering major to understand that an automobile has much more weight and bulk than a typical motorcycle, and during an automobile-motorcycle collision, it’s usually the car that wins. A driver is usually enveloped by door beams and a roof, which provide a significant measure of protection from an impact or during a rollover. Besides the fact that an automobile has cushioning and several airbags to soften any impact and seat belts which act to hold passengers in their seats, it also has several features which help prevent accidents. Windshield wipers increase visibility in the rain and snow, and because of its size, it is much easier to see. In comparison, a motorcycle suffers when considering safety. But for everything that a motorcycle givers up in terms of weight, bulk, and other safety features, it does offer a significantly higher degree of agility, maneuverability, an ability to stop quickly, and an ability to swerve quickly when driven by a trained operator.
Before you sit down in the saddle and turn the key, it’s imperative that you take the time to learn about motorcycle safety, and obtain the training and equipment you’ll need to ride. For starters, I recommend downloading an e-book on motorcycle safety, which will give you some riding tips and direct you to additional resources. Good luck, and keep the rubber side down!