People own motorcycles for many reasons. For some, a bike is an economical form of transportation that uses less gas and takes up less space. For others, it’s a gateway to a thrilling experience that makes their lives more exciting. There are as many reasons as there are riders, but that doesn’t mean riding a motorcycle is right for everyone. In fact, some people shouldn't even consider buying a motorcycle.
Risks Associated With Motorcycles
Members of our team at Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys ride motorcycles. We're proud to represent motorcyclists when they're denied access to fair settlements because an insurance agent or an attorney is making unfair assumptions about their characters.
However, we also believe that safety should always come first, and that a biker should never take unnecessary risks. Before deciding to buy a motorcycle, you should understand the risks that come with the territory.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), close to 5,000 people died in motorcycle crashes in 2015. The organization estimates that a motorcyclist is 27 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of passenger cars. In addition, 88,000 people were injured in motorcycle crashes in 2015.
The III cites the following as risk factors for motorcycle fatalities:
- Age: In 2014, 54 percent of the riders who died in motorcycle crashes were over the age of 40. While this age group generally engages in less risky behavior than younger riders, they tend to sustain more severe injuries because they're older. The steepest rise in injury rates were for riders over the age of 60, an age group that is increasing every year in ridership.
- Alcohol: 29 percent of riders involved in a fatal accident had blood alcohol contents over the legal limit of .08 percent, making alcohol a major contributing factor in fatalities. Riders aged 35-39 showed the highest rate of alcohol use.
- Speeding: According to data cited by the III, 33 percent of riders involved in fatal crashes were exceeding the speed limit.
- Licensing: 28 percent of fatal motorcycle crashes involved a rider who didn't have a valid operator’s license. Only 13 percent of fatal car crashes involve an unlicensed driver.
- Type of bike. Not surprisingly, the faster and more powerful the bike is, the greater the risk for a rider to die in a crash. Riders of “super sport” bikes are four times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than riders of other bikes.
The first step in the decision to buy a motorcycle should be to eliminate as many of these risks as possible. If you are over 60, be sure you are healthy enough to ride. Avoid drinking and riding, and maintain a safe speed at all times. Obtain a valid motorcycle license and take safety courses regularly to keep your skills sharp. Finally, buy a bike that is reasonably safe. On top of these factors, you may also want to consider additional factors.
Suggestions From the Motorcycle Safety Foundation
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation also believes that motorcycles aren’t for everyone. It offers a quick self-assessment questionnaire for people considering taking the plunge. In general, the Foundation suggests motorcyclists should possess the following skills and traits:
- Not a risk-taker
- Can ride a bicycle
- Can drive a car with a manual transmission
- Has good vision
- Is mechanically-inclined
- Is safety-minded
- Shows respect for dangerous machinery
- Is not easily distracted
- Can handle a car in an emergency
- Is committed to learning how to ride properly
If you don’t feel these qualities describe you, you may be choosing a motorcycle for the wrong reasons. It's entirely possible to ride a bike your entire adult life and never have an accident, but only if you're riding for the right reasons.
We Are Here to Help Motorcyclists
While we're a motorcycle-friendly law firm, we don’t condone purposely dangerous behavior on bikes. If you were obeying traffic laws and were cut off by a car, or if you are being denied the insurance coverage you're entitled to, call our motorcycle accident attorneys today. We'll be proud to stand by your side.