Sunday, December 8, 2013

Safer On A Bike

My work life and motorcycle life don't often mix much but risk assessment is a huge part of my job. Having a suitably large sample size is a huge part of the problem. My work world is often similarly influenced by a lack of long term data. This editorial comes from the July 1954 issue of CYCLE magazine.

It would be interesting to run current numbers through the same comparison. Too much like work, I won't be doing it today. Here are however some 2012 stats I found interesting:
  • 75% of accidents were found to involve a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle, while the remaining 25% of accidents were single motorcycle accidents.
  • "In the single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error was present as the accident precipitating factor in about two-thirds of the cases, with the typical error being a slide-out and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering."
  • "Almost half of the fatal accidents show alcohol involvement" and "injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement and motorcycle size."
  • In the multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.
  • The report's additional findings show that the wearing of appropriate gear, specifically, helmets and durable garment, mitigates crash injuries substantially.
  •  Thirty-five percent of all crashes show major impact on the chin-bar area.
Growing data shows that an alarming number of veterans returning from combat areas such as Iraq and Afghanistan are dying in motorcycle related fatalities. Between October 2007 and October 2008, 24 active-duty Marines died from motorcycle accidents. There were 4,810 deaths on motorcycles in the U.S. in 2006, an increase of 5 percent over the previous year, and more than double (2,161) over the decade before, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In the Marine Corps, high-speed bikes account for the majority of fatalities. In 2007, 78 percent of motorcycle mishaps in the Marines occurred on a sport bike, compared to 38 percent nationally.

So if I do risk assessment for a living, why in the hell do I ride a motorcycle?

Motorcycling advocate Wendy Moon says it this way - "We gradually distance ourselves from experiencing a full and free life and we don’t even know it. As a society, we’re like kids so bundled up against the snow we cannot move at all.... Embracing that risk rejuvenates the soul and empowers one to live the rest of her life as she wants."

Right or wrong I got to a point in life where it occurred to me that living an entirely risk-based life was slowly killing me through boredom. Nearly every story I care to repeat about my life as an adolescent or young adult involves an event that was not triggered by meticulous risk evaluation. Living on two wheels in one way or another was a pretty common component.

That said, please be vigilant out there folks.

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