Are Motorcycles Dangerous? A Comparison Guide You’ll Want To See

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A large percentage of people consider riding a motorcycle a pleasant, leisurely pastime. Some people consider it dangerous and should be avoided. There will be divergences of opinion depending on how many people you talk about it.

There is much debate about whether motorcycles are dangerous. Many people hear horror stories about motorcycles. This leads them to believe they are dangerous.

Are motorcycles dangerous? The rider’s driving skills and the question of whether motorcycles are safe or dangerous will determine the answer. A motorcycle that is dangerous can be considered to be dangerous if it is likely or likely to cause injury or harm. Motorbikes can also be considered dangerous. However, motorcycles can also be dangerous because they pose risks.

Throughout this article, you’ll be able to see the reasons why a motorcycle can be dangerous and the statistics that go along with it. You’ll also be able to read how to decrease risks while riding with numbers and statistics that may indicate that motorcycles might not be as dangerous as you think. This article isn’t here to convince you whether or not motorcycles are dangerous, rather this is a helpful guide to show you the points and help you decide for yourself.

Dangerous Risk: Insufficient Protection

It’s important to understand that a motorcycle itself is not dangerous. It’s the possibilities of what can happen while you’re riding that increases a rider’s risk.

Motorbikes offer less protection than other vehicles. And this doesn’t just mean roll bars, it also includes the lack of seat belts as well as airbags. Motorcycle manufacturers are still working to develop technology that will allow airbags to be installed on motorcycles.

The lack of protection makes it more likely that a motorcycle rider will collide with hard objects such as trees, cars, and other vehicles. It’s these collisions that create the injury and is what can cause a motorcycle to be more dangerous.

Dangerous risk for other drivers

Motorcyclists are at greatest risk from other drivers than the motorcycle. Some people don’t ride a motorcycle. and therefore a good chunk of the driving population are completely unaware of them because they don’t really know what to look for. This is probably something they could improve on in driver’s education in school.

Other motorists are not aware of motorcycles, and 40% of all motorcycle accidents and collisions involve other vehicles. A majority of accidents involving motorcycles and other vehicles are caused by another vehicle turning left and crashing into the motorcycle.

These types of accidents most often occur at intersections. This is likely due to the fact that since motorcycles are smaller, vehicle drivers don’t see them as clearly as they can for other cars. That’s why it’s important for the motorcyclist to be especially aware when approaching a cross roads like this.

Dangerous Risk: Use 2 wheels instead of 4

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out the difference in physics between a car that has four wheels and a motorcycle that has two wheels. It only has two wheels, which could be one of the main reasons why so many people buy a motorcycle. Those two wheels sometimes enable motorcyclists to special rules such as lane splitting (though it’s not legal everywhere).

Four-wheeled cars will have better traction and control. Two wheels are better than one, which can lead to less traction and make it easier to lose control.

Hydroplaning, fishtailing and sliding on ice or sand are all possible with motorcycles. Other vehicles, however, are also susceptible to these hazards. With enough practice, a skilled motorcyclist can maneuver around these obstacles.

Danger Risk: Age

The statistics on vehicle crashes have a lot to do with age. And that isn’t necessarily pointed just directly towards the young people though they are a contributing factor as to why motorcycles can be dangerous.

In the United States, there were 96,000 motorcycle crashes in 2008. Teenagers aged between 15 and 18 were responsible for about 8,000 accidents. Teenagers think they are a better driver than they are. This is why they become complacent. Mixing a young teenage driver with complacency while riding a motorcycle can increase your chances of getting into an accident.

Older generations also are at risk of being in motorbike accidents. Because they are older, they can also fall prey to complacency. “ridden for 20 years without an accident” Sometimes they can get into a sense of invincibility. A motorcycle can become dangerous if it is in a relaxed state of mind. In this sense, the danger is in the rider.

Dangerous Risk

You don’t just have to be able to ride a motorcycle around the neighborhood. To operate a motorcycle, you need to have the right skills and training.

It is important to be alert while riding a motorcycle. The consequences can be worse. These extra skills acquired need to be implemented every second you’re on that bike. The rider could have prevented many motorcycle accidents.

Let’s take a specific example. According to NHTSA “In 2013, there were 4,399 motorcycle riders killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes. Of those, 1,232 (28%) were alcohol-impaired (BAC of .08 or higher). In addition, there were 305 (7%) fatally injured motorcycle riders who had lower alcohol levels (BACs of .01 to .07 g/dL).”

NHTSA states that motorcyclists were responsible for 27% (compared to 23 percent for cars) of all fatal accidents involving alcohol impairment in 2013. This suggests that motorcyclists who are impaired or drunk could have prevented a significant portion of motorcycle accidents.

NHTSA further details some interesting statistics. Motorcyclists have the highest number of fatal crashes involving motorbikes. This means that motorcyclists in fatal accidents were more likely have a poor driving record than other vehicle drivers.

Danger Risk: Lack Of Maintenance

Motorcycles, like all motor vehicles, require regular maintenance. Motorcycles can break down off the side of the road leaving the rider frustrated, but there are a few basic components of motorcycle maintenance that can lead to catastrophic consequences if they’re left unattended to.

Running out of gas or having some exhaust backfire doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get bucked off the motorcycle during the middle of a ride. But if your chain breaks or your engine seizes during a ride, you could find yourself in a dangerous situation (because you can get thrown of the motorcycle if it’s bad enough). For more information on what to do if your motorcycle’s chain breaks, see my article here.

That’s why motorcycle maintenance is so important and it is completely up to the rider to keep up with it. Every accident and injury that occurs because of a motorcycle malfunctioning due to poor maintenance is the responsibility of the owner. It could have been prevented completely.

How to make riding safer: Use the right gear

Now that we’ve covered that biggest reasons a motorcycle can be considered dangerous, let’s cover grounds as to how riders can decrease their chances and risks of harm while out for a ride.

You can make riding on a motorcycle safer by choosing the right gear. Motorcyclists need to wear gloves, boots, pants and a jacket. While wearing the right jacket doesn’t necessarily prevent spinal injury, protective gear can greatly decrease your chances of major skin burns and lacerations.

A helmet worn while riding can be life-saving. As mentioned, motorcycles offer less protection than other vehicles. Therefore, helmets are essential. According to the NHTSA, helmets saved 1,630 lives in 2013. If all the victims of fatal motorcycle accidents had been wearing helmets, 715 lives could have been saved.

All motorcycle helmets sold in America must meet safety standards set by law enforcement agencies. A helmet can not save every life, but it can increase the chance of survival.

How to make riding safer: Register for a riding safety course

In order to get a motorcycle license in most places, you’ll need to obtain your learner’s permit, practice riding, take a written and riding test, and voila. You have a motorcycle permit.

This class is necessary to ensure that riders have the skills and knowledge to safely ride motorcycles on urban roads. However, most places don’t require them to take it. It’s an optional option to make riders more comfortable on roads. However, not all riders take this course.

The California Motorcyclist Safety Program reported that taking a safety riding course while you’re learning how to ride a motorcycle can decrease your chances of a fatal accident by almost 61%. That is statistically significant and it should be considered by every rider to take a safety course whether they’re learning how to ride or have already been riding for years.

How to Make Riding More Safe: Regular Maintenance

As it was mentioned earlier, routine maintenance on a motorcycle is not only vital to the health of the motorcycle itself, but it’s also vital for your safety. Larger mechanical problems could be dangerous.

Problems with the engine, chain, or tires can lead to serious injury. They can be frustrating, but regular oil changes are essential for your safety. The engine could fail if there is not enough oil or too much oil. You could be stopped abruptly and/or thrown from your bike if the engine suddenly stops during a ride. You should change the oil on your motorcycle every 4,000-5,000 mile or every six month, depending on which comes first.

Maintenance of your chain is essential. In most cases when a chain breaks, it usually just means your motorcycle doesn’t have power any more. However, if the chain becomes jammed it can also mean your motorcycle may stop abruptly and throw you off your bike. Lubricate your motorcycle chain every 4,000 miles, or every six months. Whichever comes first, you should check its tension. 

While tires are an important part of a motorcycle’s engine, they are often overlooked. It can be extremely dangerous if a motorcycle tire blows while you’re riding it and usually blows are completely preventable. To learn more about the frequency you should have your motorcycle serviced, please see my other article.

These are all dangers that can happen on a motorcycle, but they’re also completely preventable with a little scheduling and paying attention on the owner’s part.

Making riding safer: Be a defensive rider

It is a common trait to be a defensive rider when riding a motorcycle. But people say they try to do it but don’t actually abide by it.

The risk of injury on a motorcycle is higher, so that’s why you need to be completely aware of your surroundings. Motorcycle accidents are often caused by the negligence of other drivers. You have to assume you’re making up for the attention they’re not giving.

Consider first and foremost that no one around you knows you are there. Don’t assume that because you have loud exhaust or that you flashed your lights at them they know you’re in their blind spot. Assuming no one knows you’re there will help you become a much better defensive driver and therefore keep you a little safer while riding.

You should also ensure that there is a safe distance between you and other cars. Motorcyclists assume they can brake faster than cars can, but that’s not necessarily true. A lot of that depends on your motorcycle and the car that’s slamming on their brakes in front of you.

Other Activities that are more hazardous than riding a bike

According to the Insurance Information Institute there were 5,174 motorcycle-related deaths in the United States in 2007. Comparatively to the same year, there was 22,856 fatal car accidents. While riding a motorcycle is dangerous, there are other dangers. Let’s look at some other statistics:

  • According to the CDC in the USA, smoking is responsible for 480,000 deaths each year. The same goes for second-hand smoking, which is responsible in 480,000 deaths annually.
  • There’s an estimated 1,700 injuries per year in the U.S. because of vending machines.
  • About 13,000 people die each year from falls in the United States.
  • Unintentional poisoning is responsible for just over 13,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
  • In the United States, approximately 598,000 people are affected by obesity-related heart disease each year.

So while riding a motorcycle does hold it’s risks and dangers, so do plenty of other common activities performed throughout the U.S. each day (and a lot of them are significantly more likely to happen than being involved in a fatal motorcycle accident).

Conclusion

Motorcycles have the potential to be dangerous when being used. Every life lost riding a motorcycle is another life. But, as you’ll see, most motorcycle injuries can be prevented by the rider.

A motorcycle ride is very different from riding in a car. Riders of motorcycles need to be aware that they have responsibilities. They can greatly reduce their risk of being hurt. You can click here to view my pros and cons of riding a motorcycle.

However, not every motorcycle injury or death is the rider’s fault. While there are many circumstances in which the motorcycle rider was not at fault for the accident, these accidents still occur. At the same time, accidents happen no matter where you go or where you’re at. You can decide if riding a motorcycle is dangerous.

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