Date added: 2013/06/17
You decide on what risks you are willing to take, the physics decides whether you live or die.
Motorcycling is a hobby more than anything to me. The agility and sensation you get from riding is truly incredible but at the same time there
are many hazards to be encountered. This article is to raise awareness, increase knowledge, and promote safer riding.
Obvious but important, let us first take a look at why riding a motorcycle is more dangerous than driving a car:
- Impact at low speeds can knock you off your bike resulting in the possibility of colliding with vehichles and objects
- Motorcyclists do not have the same protective technology as car drivers (e.g. seat belts, airbags, metal shell enclosure)
- Four wheels brakes faster than two
- Riding is more physically and mentally demanding than driving a car
- The physical size of a motorcycle makes it difficult for car drivers to see
- Hazards such as oil, wood, and holes on the road may require you to take neccessary action
Figure #1 (stopping distances)
Cheaper, More Convenient, Cooler?
The average motorcycle is indeed cheaper than a car and much more fuel efficient. However you should answer these three questions honestly:
- Is it worth putting yourself in potential danger for the sake of money?
- Is it worth putting yourself in potential danger for the sake of convenience?
- Is it possible there are 1000 other ways to be "cool" than to ride a motorcycle?
Buying a Motorcycle
Don't ask for advice if you don't want to hear the real answer. Be realistic about your size, weight and strength -
these are important considerations, as you will need to be able to manoeuvre quickly, efficiently and confidently.
Especially when getting your first bike, start off with something around the level of a 4 stroke 250cc bike. Imagine
someone saying "I want to learn to juggle, but I'm going to start by learning with chainsaws. But don't worry, I
intend to go slow, be careful, stay level-headed, and respect the power of the chainsaws while I'm learning".
Plain and simple, it's just better to learn juggling with tennis balls than it is with chainsaws. Unfortunately
safety concerns with a first motorcycle aren't as apparent as they are in that example.
- Leave enough space
- Ride within your skills
- Ride to conditions
- All the gear, all the time
- Concentrate and clear everything else from your mind
- Stay out of blind spots
- Go into the corners slow and finish fast
- Always have your headlights on
- Remember there is no reason to take a risk
- Observe far ahead
- Ride only as fast as you can see
- Never assume a car has seen you
Figure #2 (Full Gear v Fool's Gear)
There is nothing you can do which can guarantee your safety on a motorcycle. It's up to you to reduce the risks and minimize
the likelihood of accidents. The following things increase risk:
- Speeding - Perhaps not obvious enough to most people, the risk in speeding is not so much that you will lose control of your vehicle. The danger is in
others not being able to see you and giving both of you sufficient time to react. This is often the case in cars pulling out in front of you
in driveways and intersections.
- Not wearing protective gear - No one plans to fall
- Lane splitting - Often debatable but a no for me due to the close proximity of the cars to the motorcycle, the reduced space the
motorcycle has to maneuver, and the fact that the cars don't anticipate that any vehicle or motorcycle will be passing them in slowed or stopped traffic.
- Frequently changing lanes
- Ignoring road signs
- Not leaving enough space in front
Number 1 Crash Reason
About 2/3 of all motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle, most likely a passenger car. Of these accidents the most likely cause
is the automobile making a right hand turn (left lane drive) in front of the oncoming motorcycle. This type of accident is also the most
dangerous for the motorcyclist because it results in a head on or near head on collision. Intersections are the most likely scene of a
motorcycle accident. You need to make sure the car has seen you (won't pull out in front of you) and speeding
The following statistics are based on NSW Australia from 2006 - 2010:
Almost half (48%) of motorcycle crashes involved excessive speed for the conditions. This does not necessarily mean exceeding
the speed limit, but they were going too fast to save themselves when things went wrong.
n curves are more likely than those on the straight (23% vs 13%), to involve some sort of road surface hazard, such
as loose gravel, pot holes or diesel.
The majority (61%) of multi-vehicle crashes are due to the action of the other driver, usually failing to see or give way to the rider.
Over half (57%) of all multi-vehicle collisions are at intersections and 71% of intersection crashes are due to the actions of the other driver.
T-junctions are the most dangerous type of intersection for riders, they account for almost a third (30%) of all collisions and 20% of
all fatal collisions.
A high proportion of collisions at roundabouts (73%), t-junctions (70%) and cross roads (72%) were due to the actions of the other driver.
Apart from intersection crashes, the most common multi-vehicle crashes due to other drivers are changing lanes (21%), emerging from a driveway
(9%) and making a U-turn (8%).
Rear end collisions make up 19% of crashes and more often than not it is rider into other vehicle (61%).
The following statistics are based on NSW Australia for 2013:
- An increase in the number of people learning to ride motorbikes and scooters in a bid to save money and avoid traffic delays has led to a
jump in the number of deaths on our roads.
- Spike in motorcycle deaths
- Massive rise in P-platers
- Seen as 'cheaper, more eco-friendly' option
- Trendy types refusing to wear proper safety gear
The following statistics are based from USA for 2012:
Figure #3 (Accidents based on actions)
Figure #4 (Motorcycle injuries)
Everyone Is Valentino
With the incredible agility and maneuverability you have on a bike, it's tempting to feel like Valentino Rossi at some point.
But if he faced the same obstacles on the race track that we do on the road, he'd probably be dead by now.
Figure #3 (Valentino Rossi)
Wouldn't It Be Pefect?
To all the fellow riders out there, I wish you a clear head at all times on the road.