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Two Wheels Can Be Fun, But Are Motorcycles Safe?

No doubt, if you have a motorcycle, you have heard all the arguments about motorcycle safety. Someone, probably your spouse or parent, has told you that motorcycles are not safe and that your chances are greater of being injured on a motorcycle than in a car or other vehicle. Is this really true? Are motorcycles as safe as cars? What should you do to prevent a crash, and what should you do if you are involved in a motorcycle accident?

The Reality of Motorcycle Crash Statistics

In order to determine if motorcycles are safe, it may be helpful to look at the statistics. Unfortunately, the numbers do not lie: people really are more likely to be hurt or killed on a motorcycle than in a passenger car. The reason for that increased likelihood may not be the safety habits of the motorcycle rider, but it has been well-established that motorcycle riders die more frequently than car drivers.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely to die in a crash than drivers of passenger vehicles. Further, about 11 percent of all crashes involve motorcyclists, although motorcycles do not makeup 11 percent of the vehicles on the road. No matter how you look at the data, it is impossible to escape the conclusion that it is more dangerous to ride a motorcycle than drive a car. However, that does not mean that motorcycles are inherently dangerous.

What it probably means is that car drivers are not as likely to yield the right-of-way for a motorcycle as for another car, especially at intersections and when passing. At least 42 percent of all motorcycle accidents involve a car turning in front of an oncoming motorcycle. This suggests that many drivers simply do not "see" motorcyclists in the same way that they see vehicles of a similar size to their own.

How Can I Protect Myself?

If you choose to ride a motorcycle, there are several things you can do to protect yourself from harm, including:

  • Always wear a helmet. It has been estimated that riders in 40 percent of all deadly motorcycle accidents were not wearing helmets.
  • Yield the right-of-way. Do not assume that a car driver sees you or that he or she will yield to you. Drive defensively.
  • Avoid alcohol. Many single-vehicle motorcycle crashes involve alcohol use.
  • Take a safety course. Motorcycle safety courses offer much-needed information on defensive motorcycle operation and other topics.
If you are injured in a motorcycle crash, contact Bernstein & Poisson for a free consultation.