The Potential Dangers of A Motorcycle Motorcycles are fun vehicles, and not only are motorcycles popular but since 2002, motorcycle ridership has doubled to around 8.3 million riders. Yet motorcycles are very dangerous.
Brutal statistics matched by physics
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), if involved in a motorcycle accident, you are 28 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than in an auto accident. And of the lucky ones who do survive, more than 80 percent of significant crashes result in serious injury.
The reason is obvious. An average car weighs around 3,000 to 3,800 pounds and is made out of heavy metals. While an average motorcycle weighs 700 pounds or less.
As some 66 percent of all motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another car, it’s no big surprise then that so many motorcycle accidents result in heavy damage to the rider.
The plain fact is that a motorcycle offers no protection in a crash.
Unlike an auto, which has crash barriers to keep the engine from entering the drier and passenger compartment, has seat belts and airbags, a motorcycle has nothing.
About the only protection a motorcyclist has is wearing a helmet, which is not mandated universally. In fact, only 18 states require helmets for all riders, and 3 states, Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire, have no laws at all.
Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent and death by 42 percent, but as the odds of death or head injury is already high, it’s only a partial solution.
If you are going to ride a motorcycle, you should have at the least have heavy footgear (never flip flops) and a leather jacket at a minimum.
But as there are, and likely never will be any airbags for a motorcycle, they will always remain dangerous.
To compound matters, there is a high percentage of street-legal motorcycles capable of going between 120 and 180 miles per hour. And the faster a motorcycle travels, the more dangerous and likely is a potential collision.
The fact is that roughly 32 percent of all motorcycle accidents involve speeding. And with high speeds, a motorcycle does not have to collide with another car to cause an accident.
Many motorcycle accidents involve not slowing down around dangerous curves, or alternatively, hitting a pothole or impediment in the road. As a motorcycle balances on just two wheels, it doesn’t take much for them to run off the road, and again, high speeds make riding even more dangerous.
Lack of visibiliy
If every motorcycle was painted a bright, fluorescent orange and every motorcyclist was required to wear a bright orange safety vest, there would not be so many motorcycle accidents at intersections.
However, the plain fact is that those motorcycles are difficult to see, particularly when a car or truck is making a left turn and the motorcycle is driving straight.
But based upon the progress just in getting motorcyclists to wear helmets, and the lack of progress for full mandates everywhere, it’s fully up to a cyclist to be vitally aware at all times of the dangers.
But since motorcyclists are just as guilty as auto drivers of paying attention to their cellphones while driving as well as listening to music with headphones, it does not look hopeful.
Because a motorcycle is agile, many riders treat them like toys. They dart in and out among cars and buses in the city, stand on their seats as if it was a surfboard, and do other dangerous tricks.
The bottom line
Although motorcycles are here to stay, they are very dangerous and the onus is on the
riders to ride more responsibly and go slower.
Also, manufacturers should never be allowed to provide street-legal motorcycles that go any faster than 80 miles per hour.
Also, states should consider requiring riders to be at least 21 to legally ride.