A motorcyclist rides between cars on Highway 101 in Corte Madera, California
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The Truth About the Danger of Motorcycles

There's no doubt that motorcycle riders experience a feeling of freedom while cruising down the open road. On top of that, it's just plain cool to be on a motorbike. However, one of the factors that stops people from making their first motorcycle purchase is the safety concern that comes along with it.

Even experienced riders know that they're taking on a risk when they throw a leg over their bike. That said, should you really let this fear get the best of you? Let's break down some statistics regarding the dangers of motorcycling, and the best ways that you can protect yourself on two wheels.

How Dangerous Are Motorcycles?

Motorcyclists drive down Main Street during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 7, 2020 in Sturgis, South Dakota

Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Let me just start off by saying yes, motorcycles are much more dangerous than a passenger car. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycles only make up 3% of the vehicles on the road, but they account for 14% of all crash-related fatalities. The NHTSA reports that motorcyclists are 28 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, compared to car drivers. Additionally, more than 80% percent of these motorcycle crashes result in either serious injury or death.

This comes as a result of their open structure. Car occupants in motor vehicles have much more safety features, such as a metal cage and seat belts to keep them safer during accidents, whereas motorcycles dangerously expose the rider. Plus, they don't have air bags (though, purchasing an air bag vest may give a rider more peace of mind).

Common motorcycle accidents are caused by head-on crashes, motorists trying to make left turns, unsafe road conditions (gravel, dirt, potholes), riding above the speed limit, or hanging out in a vehicles blind spot. Out of the many traffic fatalities involving motorcycles, a majority of these instances have involved these particular situations. Motorcycle safety courses and rider training are highly recommended before cruising on the roads, as they go over some of the best ways to avoid putting yourself in these dangerous spots.

In order to stay out of danger, bikers are required to keep their head on a swivel all the time. Riding defensively and having a quick reaction time is one of the best ways to remain safe on the public roads. Luckily, as the years go on, more and more safety features, such as anti-lock brakes and traction control, are being added to motorcycles. This does help cut back on the number of motorcycle fatalities, though the fatality rate is still significant.

With riding motorcycles being such a risky undertaking, it's significant to always stress the importance of protective gear. Always wearing a helmet will greatly prevent the chance of a head injury, and other safety gear, like a jacket, gloves, riding pants, and boots, can massively reduce the chance of personal injury during vehicle accidents. Proper gear also saves riders from road rash, which I can personally attest is not a fun time.

To simplify, sure, motorcycles are dangerous. Only you can make the decision if riding is worth it or not. Just keep in mind that if you ride smart and wear your gear, the likelihood of being involved in a fatal accident drops significantly, though the risk will always be there. Keep yourself protected, and always enjoy the ride. Stay safe out there my fellow motorcyclists.

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This post was originally published on July 12, 2021.

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