Sunday, February 3, 2013

The dangers of Motorcycling

Motorcycling has essentially two dangers: 1) the rider, and 2) every other vehicle on the road. As motorcyclists, we can control one of these; the other we have to try to nullify.
Motorcycle accident statistics have been fairly consistent over the years. Approximately half of all accidents are single-vehicle situations where the rider was at fault. The three biggest contributing factors are alcohol, speed, and inexperience, sometimes singly, sometimes in combination. Put all three together and you have a recipe for disaster.

But this is good news, because all of these factors are within our control. We can choose to drink responsibly or not at all when we're out on our bikes. We can choose to ride within the limits of our abilities, and not pull stupid stunts. We can choose to get rider training that teaches us to be more in control of our bikes and more aware of the hazards we need to watch out for.
The other half, approximately, are multiple-vehicle accidents. Of these, one-third tend to be the fault of the rider. These come about in the same ways that the single-vehicle accidents occur and they can be avoided in the same manner.
What is really scary are the other two-thirds. These are caused by the other motorist, and generally that means violating the biker's right-of-way. This occurs in one of four ways. 1. The other vehicle turns left in front of the rider. 2. The other vehicle crosses the center line into the path of the biker. 3. The other vehicle pulls out from a driveway or cross-street into the path of the biker. 4. The other vehicle, going the same direction as the biker, changes lanes without checking to ensure that the lane is clear, moving into the path of the biker.
Every experienced motorcyclist has been through all four of these situations multiple times. The key to escaping without a scrape is driving defensively, skillfully, and soberly.
That applies as well to the small number of other accidents that occur. Yes, those do occur. But whether it's a deer running out in front of you, or hitting sand on a curve, or any of the other everyday perils, you don't have to be a victim. You have the ability to be in control. If you drive defensively and anticipate what might happen you can be prepared for nearly anything. And being prepared gives you the highest probability of avoiding the crash. You can wear all the protective gear known to man, but crashing safely will never serve you as well as avoiding the crash in the first place.

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