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Bikers Most at Risk During Their First Year of Riding

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Most people probably think of young guys on fast sport bikes when they think of motorcycle accident victims, but the reality is that any inexperienced rider is likely to crash—and many of them are over the age of 40. As men—and increasingly women—reach middle age, many of them decide to get a motorcycle and try out life on the open road. Whether the rider is 16 and riding a 150cc street bike or just turned 50 and treated himself to a 2000cc road cruiser, he is most likely to crash within the first month of owning the bike.

What the Numbers Say About New Rider Safety

According to the Highway Loss Data Institute, a rider is four times more likely to crash in their first month on a motorcycle than in their entire second year of riding. The Institute found that 22 percent of the nearly 57,000 insurance claims made between 2003 and 2007 occurred in the first 30 days after an insurance policy took effect. Further analysis of insurance claim data showed that A Motorcyclist Traveling Down the Roadhalf of all claims made for supersport bikes—motorcycles capable of speeds up to 200 mph—occurred in the first three months of the policy.

Surprisingly, states that require riders to take a special training course in order to get a motorcycle license actually experience slightly higher claim rates in the first year than states that don’t have such a requirement. One reason for this may be that those states grant graduates of riding classes a full license while other states have a learner’s permit or graduated license system, requiring that riders get more experience before they are fully licensed.

The key, say the experts, is experience. The more time a rider has to practice on an enclosed course or with an experienced rider, the less likely he or she is to crash when they go out on their own. Riding classes are essential for all new motorcyclists, whether one is required to get a license or not. Operating a motorcycle is a complex task. Simply pulling out on a hill requires the following skills:

  • Balancing on one foot

  • Braking to keep the bike from rolling back

  • Shifting the gears

  • Feathering the throttle

  • Watching for traffic

  • Releasing the clutch

Add to this the weight of the bike and it’s no wonder new riders drop their bikes or crash more often than experienced riders.

Tips for Buying a Safe Bike

If you are a new rider or someone who has never ridden but would like to start, it is important that you choose your first bike with safety in mind. A motorcycle that is too big or too fast for you is going to lead you into trouble. When choosing a first bike, consider the following:

  • Power. Your first bike should be between a 250cc and a 500cc. These bikes are light enough to handle, but powerful enough for highway speeds.

  • Height and weight. When sitting on the bike, you should not be on your tippy toes. If the bike starts to tip, you should be able to handle the weight so that you can keep the bike upright.

  • Riding position. If you are looking for an upright riding position, test ride a cruiser or some models of sport bikes. If you want a more aggressive position with a harder lean angle, look at sport bikes.

Motorcycle Licensing Regulations in KS and MO

Neither Kansas nor Missouri have tough motorcycle licensing regulations, but they do both require a license or endorsement to ride a motorcycle. In Missouri, you may apply for a temporary motorcycle instruction permit if you are 16 years old. To obtain a permit you must pass the Class M written test if you have a driver’s license or pass the Class F and Class M written tests if you do not have a driver’s license. To earn your license, you must pass a motorcycle knowledge test and on-motorcycle skill test. Riders between the ages of 16 and 18 must also adhere to Missouri’s graduated license restrictions.

In Kansas, to add a motorcycle endorsement to your driver’s license, you must pass a vision test, a written test, and a skill test on a cycle or complete an approved motorcycle rider training course.

We Are the Bikers’ Choice for Legal Representation

If you were involved in a motorcycle crash in your first year of riding—or at any time in your riding career—call the attorneys at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys. We are bikers ourselves and understand the challenges you may be facing as a motorcycle accident victim.


James Roswold
James Roswold is a Kansas & Missouri personal injury, workers comp, and medical malpractice attorney.
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