Is Motorcycle Ownership for You?
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 2: Economy
- Part 3: Safety (You are here)
- Part 4: Lifestyle
- Part 5: Concluding Thoughts
According to an NHTSA report, motorcyclists are about 18 times more likely to be the victim of a fatal accident than the driver of a passenger vehicle.
Feel free to think on that statistic for a bit. It's an important one, and while not every rider knows the figure, it's not above the average rider that they're at much higher risk than most drivers are.
If you are considering becoming a rider, it's important that you know the dangers of it. Some people love the idea of riding and are completely capable of it, but choose not to in order to avoid putting their family at risk of losing someone they rely on. It's a lot easier to be reckless as a single college student than as someone married with children.
Additionally, someone getting on a bike for the first time mid-life will be at much higher risk for injury or death than a rider who starts young. Dirtbike riding at a young age transitions well onto the street when the time comes, but often the abrupt introduction of someone unfamiliar with two-wheeled motorbike riding onto busy highways and streets can have deadly consequences.
That's not to say adults who have never ridden a motorcycle shouldn't do so. My recommendation to someone interested would be to begin on a suitable bike. Most people say that lower CC's is the way to go, and I agree to a point, mostly insofar as smaller engines mean lighter bikes. I believe one of the ways new riders get into trouble is the difficulty maneuvering heavy bikes. It isn't about brute strength of the riders, rather about maintaining balance and understanding how the bike acts at different speeds. Even experienced riders can be occasionally surprised at the way a bike acts in a given situation, and may find the learning experience involves hitting the asphalt.
New riders should also consider an MSF safety course before taking to the streets. I actually took my MSF course rather than testing with the DMV (a passing grade on the course can be used at the DMV in place of the riding test). The course is somewhat comprehensive, going through the laws of motorcycle riding as well as riding practice on a bike supplied by the company running the course (or you can choose to bring your own).
In closing, few will attempt to argue that motorcycle riding isn't dangerous. Statistical data shows that in fact it is significantly more so than caging (that is, driving passenger vehicles). On the other hand, motorcycle riding is such a rewarding experience that every day, riders strap on their helmet and fire up their bikes knowing full well the dangers involved. To know riding is to love riding, and many would rather die than give it up.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia