Motorcycles: Statistics and Safety Tips

Motorcycle Safety

There’s no doubt to many riders that summer and fall are the best time for going on a road trip on a motorcycle. Before you head off into the sunset, however, you should be aware of some statistics and safety tips. This article is intended to inform you of relevant motorcycle statistics, and to provide some motorcycle safety tips to help keep you safe.

Statistics

  • Fatalities of older riders are increasing.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the percentage of motorcycle fatalities for riders who were older than 50 has been steadily increasing since the 1980’s. Older riders accounted for 3 percent of motorcycle fatalities in 1982, 13 percent in 1997, and 36 percent in 2014.

  • You are more likely to be involved in a lethal crash on major roads that are not interstates.

The IIHS found that there were higher rates of fatal motorcycle crashes on major roads that were not interstates by 57 percent.

  • Helmets reduce your chances of death and brain injury (shocking!)

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that helmets prevented death 37 percent of the time in motorcycle crashes.

  • Drinking and riding takes more lives than you might know.

The NHTSA recorded that 1,232 riders died with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) that was higher than the legal limit (0.08).

Safety Tips

  1. Wear protective clothing
    Besides just your helmet, what you wear could help to keep you safe while riding and prevent damage if you do crash. Make sure to wear:

    1. A leather jacket and durable pants will protect you from the elements, debris, and road-rash if you crash. Wearing bright colors would also help you be easier to spot by other cars. Some motorcycle companies also sell clothing with interwoven armor to help reduce damage by road debris and crashing.
    2. Heavy boots will give you better traction and stability when stopped on a road, and makes changing gears easier for some people. Boots also provide protection for your ankles and could prevent bones from breaking in a crash.
    3. A helmet should have a face shield and cover your entire head to provide the most protection (and to prevent you from swallowing bugs). The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has also provided helmet ratings for safety of helmets. A DOT approval should be found on a label on the back of your helmet.
    4. Find some durable gloves that will keep your hands warm and protected while you ride. This is more of a comfort issue than a safety one, but sometimes wind chill can make a riders hands stiff. This could cause accelerating and switching gears to be more difficult.
  2. Prepare for a crash
    It is likely that you will eventually crash your motorcycle at some point if you are a regular rider. Know what you are going to do if you crash ahead of time. If you have storage compartments on your motorcycle, make sure to fit a first aid kit inside one of them. It couldn’t hurt to keep relevant medical and insurance information on you either, just in case.
  3. Get insurance that keeps you well covered.
    At least some insurance is required in every state in the U.S. but that doesn’t mean that you will always be covered in a crash. Consider having insurance policies such as:

    1. Uninsured motorist coverage
      This will allow you to be covered medically and repair your motorcycle if an uninsured motorist crashes into you.
    2. Comprehensive coverage
      This will cover you for damages besides collision such as theft, hail, fire, vandalism, etc.
    3. Roadside assistance
      Regardless of whether you know how to fix your bike or not, having roadside assistance can save you a lot of trouble when you are broken down next to the road.
    4. Negligent, collision, and personal injury coverage
      It should go without saying that you need these policies, it always important to protect your health, your motorcycle, and be able to cover a crash that you might cause.
  4. Be aware
    The leading cause of crashes, no matter what you are riding, is carelessness. Always be aware of your surroundings and follow traffic rules. It requires extensive skill and experience to safely ride a motorcycle, so knowing what is happening around you is extremely important if you are riding a motorcycle. Follow other safe riding practices as well, such as never drink or text while riding.