Saturday, May 26, 2018

Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

Well, we're most of the way through the month, but it makes sense to say a few words about Motorcycle Safety. After all, it is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month.  Interestingly, I have not heard any ads about this at all. 

Anyway, first, some stats, from the National Safety Council (NSC): 

  • In the U.S. in 2016, 4,976 motorcycle riders and passengers died in crashes, and nonfatal injuries that year totaled 88,000, according to NSC Injury Facts® 2017.
    More than 40,327 people were killed in all crashes on U.S. roads in 2017, according to estimates from NSC.  
  • Motorcycles make up 3% of all registered vehicles and only 0.7% of all vehicle miles traveled in the U.S., but motorcyclists accounted for 13% of all traffic fatalities in 2016
  • 91% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2016 were male
  • 26% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2016 were alcohol-impaired
So the odds against us are pretty high compared with other vehicles. 

That last item is totally preventable, though -- if you drink and ride, you are stupid and are likely to be counted in that statistic one day.  ...Let alone any damage you do to others while you are killing yourself. 

In South Carolina, you are at an even further disadvantage, because the fatality rate per 100 million vehicle-miles for all vehicle types is the highest of all 50 U.S. states at 1.89.  You can see a chart of fatalities by state here

This is a map from that website:

Red is highest.  Green is lowest. 

I think there are some things we who ride can do to reduce the probability of such trouble and reduce the magnitude of the trouble if there is some:

  • Wear motorcycle-specific jacket, pants, boots, gloves, and helmet.  No excuses here.    
    Remember this about pavement and other things on and near the road: They are just as hard, whether you are dressed for it or not.
  • Ride like you are invisible to others.  Assume that everyone else on the road doesn’t see you.  
  • This one amplifies the previous point: Pay attention to what every vehicle around you is capable of doing, in addition to what it is doing. Anticipate and formulate a plan to avoid what could happen. 
  • Don't ride at your skill level.  Ride under it.  Leave a little leeway between the road situation and your ability to handle it.  And remember that your confidence as a rider increases faster than your skills.  
  • Practice swerves, threshold braking and other maneuvers.  
  • Install a headlight modulator.  It used to be that only motorcycles and military convoys used their headlights in the daylight.  That made them stand out.  Nowadays, many vehicles have daytime running lights, so a motorcycle can get lost in the glare.  I recommend a modulator to restore some of the contrast. 
  • Wear fluorescent gear.  It might look a little dorky, but it certainly helps you stand out amongst the crowd on the road.  Here is a photograph from the start of a rainy, day-long ride: 

    Rally to Ridgecrest, Memorial Day weekend, 2011.

There is something you can do with your family to help prevent future accidents where other motorists fail to see you on the bike.  This one comes from another blogger, Borepatch:

And the same thing related to bicycles:

On the lighthearted side, this Allstate Insurance magazine ad:

See you on the road, safe and sound, I hope!

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