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54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I got into serious riding about 3 years ago at about age 50, I thought that most of the danger and accidents were with the young guys on crotch rockets. I mean it looks crazy to see those guys weaving in and out of traffic, high speeds, wheelies both front and back...etc. But when someone posted the topic that was titled "I'm going to hate myself in the morning" I googled something like "motorcycle deaths". That poor guy who made that post ended up hating himself in the morning as all the crap he took. But his topic was about helmet laws. But not relating to helmet laws, I just want to mention that from what I read, most increases in deaths are occuring in the baby boomer generation... 50 year olds and up. I didn't do a lot of research, and would have like to have seen the number of riders in each age group, and the percentage of them that have a fatal crash. But what I did come to find out was that the increase in motorcycle deaths is mostly occuring in the age group of those 50+. Some of the reasons were that we are living out our "Easy Rider" fantasies of our childhood and buying big expensive bikes without any riding experience. Another reason was that if we do get into an accident we're not as physically able to recover from the injuries because of age. Another thing unrelated to age is that most deaths occur from failure to negotiate a curve, and riding at night.

I'm not trying to scare anyone. Riding gave me a new life and got me off my retired ass. I'm willing to take the risk as it's worth the pleasure to me. But I did get into a few situations as a new rider, similar to the nerd in the new movie, "Wild Hogs". One was doing a U turn into a subdivision's divided entrance and going too wide. I went over the curb into the landscaping. Went through a nice soft bush and just ticked a huge rock with my foot peg, while an old man landscaper watched in horror (HE-HE). There is some realism in that movie...great movie. But for what it's worth, I thought it was interesting information to share. Maybe giving an old guy like myself some perspective in starting out small. I remember taking my MSF course with an old guy who dropped his Beul 500 several times (school bike). And, he had a fully loaded, brand new Harley Cruiser waiting for him at home, that he hadn't ridden yet. I wonder how he's doing?

"Wild Italian" Maybe a bowl of steaming spaghetti and meatballs for a jacket patch?

54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Crazy Dave, boy I sure didn't mean anything by saying that you hated yourself in the morning. I was just using your topic in reference to mine. Hope there's no offense taken. Maybe I'll be the one to hate myself in the morning after bringing this topic up. As far as alcohol, I believe that came up in the articles I read. A significant number of deaths were alcohol related. But I would think that alcohol is as much of a problem for young people as it is for old. I just hope you guys realize that I thought this was an interesting topic, AND NOT AN ARGUMENT, and I am one of those fat over 50 coach potatoes that took up motorcycling. I had serious regrets after buying that first bike and was scared to death for the first 200-300 miles in traffic. The arguement about being out of shape is absolutely correct. I realized I had to do better, and I practiced in parking lots going slow, practiced turns, started working out, lost 50 pounds... all in the name of motorcycling. I needed another hip replacement, and I thought I'd get it that winter. I just wanted to have a bike before the hip replacement, and wouldn't chance riding after it. I wanted one all my life and that summer I thought was my last chance. In spite of the danger, and I do believe I put myself in danger, motorcycling improved my life. I never did get that hip replacement thanks to the lose of weight, and the excercise. My back problem (three fused vertabrae) has also been minimized. As to the riding, a big help was buying a DVD by a motorcycle cop called "Motorman" ... "Ride like a Pro III". A lot of it was similar to the MFS course but a good review. The MSF course, I feel, is inadequate. It was just being stubborn and tenacious that got me through to the feel good ride. But I didn't realize what I was getting myself into as was mentioned above, regarding the low mileage cycles for sale. But I'm glad I made it, and wouldn't give it up for the world now. If I die on a motorcycle, I'll have a smile on my face in the casket. :D The problems I mentioned above all came from a head on accident in a cage. You never know what's going to take you out.

Interested in all comments, but lets not argue. We're all friends here (I hope)


54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #34 ·
Re: Statistics

sama said:
Again the groth has been in the older riders group, but the accidents are still
by far highest in the <25 years group. 70% are one vehicle accidents, half of those
are just categorized "falling out of control in a turn".
When a car was involved, most accidents are caused by the driver of the car,
but both drivers are at fault in the 22% category "recless lane changing".
Another interesting finding was that only 3% of accidents are related to speeding (of the MC).

In the articles I read, they only gave an indication that the biggest "INCREASE" in deaths is in the 50+ category, which is also where the largest number of deaths occur now. In the US anyway. But when you think of it, that is also where the increase in bike sales is too, I would think. So it would make sense that an increase number of bikes increases the number of deaths. I guess the real statistic would be to tell me what percentage of riders who are in the 25-30 year old class have fatalities, compared to the percentage of riders in the 50+ class. That would tell me something that makes sense. Of course people who come up with statistics seldom make sense. It was just disheartening to hear of so many deaths in my age group. Several thousand people killed during 911 and we go to war... hundreds of thousands killed on the road and we accept it with no outrage? Why does that not make sense... maybe a good next topic.


54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #35 ·
destinrider said:
I'm 65 and have only been riding a couple of years. I am very safety conscious, maybe to the extreme at times. My neighbor and friend died in a motorcycle/auto accident last year on Good Friday. He was also in his sixties and was very experienced. He had been riding since his teen years. He often said of cagers, "they're all out to kill you" and rode with that attitude. An SUV turned left in front of him in an intersection, driver said he didn't see the motorcycle. His bike laid down and slid into the SUV throwing him into the vehicle. The main impact to his body was in his chest area killing him almost instantly - he was wearing a helmet.

I've thought about the accident scenario a lot and often wondered if a lightbar would have made him visible to the SUV driver. I add a lightbar to every bike I buy (now riding #4) as soon as possible. I also have an air horn and a thumb ready to give it a blast anytime I think a driver hasn't seen me. Yeah, by lip reading I can tell some of them don't appreciate it, but at least I know they saw me.

Since I ride for the joy of it, I don't ride at night or in the rain. I avoid heavy traffic whenever possible and I choose back roads when available. I try to be prepared to stop or take evasive action at each intersection and I try to position myself on the road in such a way to make myself most visible according to my surroundings.

Motorman's "Ride Like A Pro III" and "Surviving The Mean Streets" videos should be in every motorcyclists library and viewed/reviewed frequently. I find practicing slow speed maneuvers and panic stops are good for me. Every day also starts and ends with prayer and thanksgiving.

Ride Safe ....

Be Blessed...
My exact feelings buddy. My riding partner had the same thing happen to him last year. He survived but I lost a riding partner as now he's afraid to ride. But whenever he followed me I always thought to myself that his light didn't seem very bright. Perhaps it was aimed wrong. His accident report, "Lady turned left and didn't see Doug. Lady hit Doug on his motorcycle." I'm going to try a headlight modulator and have an air horn waiting to be installed. Ditto on "Ride Like a PRO". I have all his stuff. Everyone, ESPECIALLY inexperienced riders should buy one. It will cost you less than a broken bone, or anything worse.

I thought your link was excellent information, and am posting it here. I hope no one objects to the amount of space used. I condensed it as much as possible.

Thanks Destinrider... Good Stuff

(AKA "Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures")
A brief summary of the findings is listed below. To order the full report, contact:
National Technical Information Service
5285 Port Royal Road
Springfield, Virginia 22161
and order:
Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures, Volume 1: Technical Report, Hurt, H.H., Ouellet, J.V. and Thom, D.R., Traffic Safety Center, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90007, Contract No. DOT HS-5-01160, January 1981 (Final Report)
Vol.I (The Main Report and Summary) is PB81206443 (~400 pages)
Vol.II (Appendix: Supplementary Data) is PB81206450 (~400 pages)
Either document is $42.95 plus $3.00 shipping. (circa 1990)

Summary of Findings

Throughout the accident and exposure data there are special observations which relate to accident and injury causation and characteristics of the motorcycle accidents studied. These findings are summarized as follows:
1. Approximately three-fourths of these motorcycle accidents involved collision with another vehicle, which was most often a passenger automobile.
2. Approximately one-fourth of these motorcycle accidents were single vehicle accidents involving the motorcycle colliding with the roadway or some fixed object in the environment.
3. Vehicle failure accounted for less than 3% of these motorcycle accidents, and most of those were single vehicle accidents where control was lost due to a puncture flat.
4. In 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 slideout and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.
5. Roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.) were the accident cause in 2% of the accidents; animal involvement was 1% of the accidents.
6. In 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.
7. The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.
8. Deliberate hostile action by a motorist against a motorcycle rider is a rare accident cause. The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.
10. Intersections are the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the other vehicle violating the motorcycle right-of-way, and often violating traffic controls.
11. Weather is not a factor in 98% of motorcycle accidents.
12. Most motorcycle accidents involve a short trip associated with shopping, errands, friends, entertainment or recreation, and the accident is likely to happen in a very short time close to the trip origin.
13. The view of the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved in the accident is limited by glare or obstructed by other vehicles in almost half of the multiple vehicle accidents.
14. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is a critical factor in the multiple vehicle accidents, and accident involvement is significantly reduced by the use of motorcycle headlamps (on in daylight) and the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets.
15. Fuel system leaks and spills were present in 62% of the motorcycle accidents in the post-crash phase. This represents an undue hazard for fire.
16. The median pre-crash speed was 29.8 mph, and the median crash speed was 21.5 mph, and the one-in-a-thousand crash speed is approximately 86 mph.
17. The typical motorcycle pre-crash lines-of-sight to the traffic hazard portray no contribution of the limits of peripheral vision; more than three-fourths of all accident hazards are within 45deg of either side of straight ahead.
18. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is most critical for the frontal surfaces of the motorcycle and rider.
19. Vehicle defects related to accident causation are rare and likely to be due to deficient or defective maintenance.
20. Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly overrepresented in accidents; motorcycle riders between the ages of 30 and 50 are significantly underrepresented. Although the majority of the accident-involved motorcycle riders are male (96%), the female motorcycles riders are significantly overrepresented in the accident data.
22. Craftsmen, laborers, and students comprise most of the accident-involved motorcycle riders. Professionals, sales workers, and craftsmen are underrepresented and laborers, students and unemployed are overrepresented in the accidents.
23. Motorcycle riders with previous recent traffic citations and accidents are overrepresented in the accident data.
24. The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.
25. More than half of the accident-involved motorcycle riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the total street riding experience was almost 3 years. Motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.
26. Lack of attention to the driving task is a common factor for the motorcyclist in an accident.
27. Almost half of the fatal accidents show alcohol involvement.
28. Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would overbrake and skid the rear wheel, and underbrake the front wheel greatly reducing collision avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.
29. The typical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance action.
30. Passenger-carrying motorcycles are not overrepresented in the accident area.
31. The driver of the other vehicles involved in collision with the motorcycle are not distinguished from other accident populations except that the ages of 20 to 29, and beyond 65 are overrepresented. Also, these drivers are generally unfamiliar with motorcycles.
32. Large displacement motorcycles are underrepresented in accidents but they are associated with higher injury severity when involved in accidents.
33. Any effect of motorcycle color on accident involvement is not determinable from these data, but is expected to be insignificant because the frontal surfaces are most often presented to the other vehicle involved in the collision.
34. Motorcycles equipped with fairings and windshields are underrepresented in accidents, most likely because of the contribution to conspicuity and the association with more experienced and trained riders.
35. Motorcycle riders in these accidents were significantly without motorcycle license, without any license, or with license revoked.
36. Motorcycle modifications such as those associated with the semi-chopper or cafe racer are definitely overrepresented in accidents.
37. The likelihood of injury is extremely high in these motorcycle accidents-98% of the multiple vehicle collisions and 96% of the single vehicle accidents resulted in some kind of injury to the motorcycle rider; 45% resulted in more than a minor injury.
38. Half of the injuries to the somatic regions were to the ankle-foot, lower leg, knee, and thigh-upper leg.
39. Crash bars are not an effective injury countermeasure; the reduction of injury to the ankle-foot is balanced by increase of injury to the thigh-upper leg, knee, and lower leg.
40. The use of heavy boots, jacket, gloves, etc., is effective in preventing or reducing abrasions and lacerations, which are frequent but rarely severe injuries.
41. Groin injuries were sustained by the motorcyclist in at least 13% of the accidents, which typified by multiple vehicle collision in frontal impact at higher than average speed.
42. Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement and motorcycle size.
43. Seventy-three percent of the accident-involved motorcycle riders used no eye protection, and it is likely that the wind on the unprotected eyes contributed in impairment of vision which delayed hazard detection.
44. Approximately 50% of the motorcycle riders in traffic were using safety helmets but only 40% of the accident-involved motorcycle riders were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.
45. Voluntary safety helmet use by those accident-involved motorcycle riders was lowest for untrained, uneducated, young motorcycle riders on hot days and short trips.
46. The most deadly injuries to the accident victims were injuries to the chest and head.
47. The use of the safety helmet is the single critical factor in the prevention of reduction of head injury; the safety helmet which complies with FMVSS 218 is a significantly effective injury countermeasure.
48. Safety helmet use caused no attenuation of critical traffic sounds, no limitation of precrash visual field, and no fatigue or loss of attention; no element of accident causation was related to helmet use.
49. FMVSS 218 provides a high level of protection in traffic accidents, and needs modification only to increase coverage at the back of the head and demonstrate impact protection of the front of full facial coverage helmets, and insure all adult sizes for traffic use are covered by the standard.
50. Helmeted riders and passengers showed significantly lower head and neck injury for all types of injury, at all levels of injury severity.
51. The increased coverage of the full facial coverage helmet increases protection, and significantly reduces face injuries.
52. There is no liability for neck injury by wearing a safety helmet; helmeted riders had less neck injuries than unhelmeted riders. Only four minor injuries were attributable to helmet use, and in each case the helmet prevented possible critical or fatal head injury.
53. Sixty percent of the motorcyclists were not wearing safety helmets at the time of the accident. Of this group, 26% said they did not wear helmets because they were uncomfortable and inconvenient, and 53% simply had no expectation of accident involvement.
54. Valid motorcycle exposure data can be obtained only from collection at the traffic site. Motor vehicle or driver license data presents information which is completely unrelated to actual use.
55. Less than 10% of the motorcycle riders involved in these accidents had insurance of any kind to provide medical care or replace property.

54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #63 ·
This thread has started to freak me out, and I'ts making me have second thoughts about starting it and taking my first ride this spring. I feel like I'm calling upon an accident to happen. I guess I'm a little supersticious, so I ain't coming back here. But I think it was a good discussion. As always though, these things seem to turn into arguements, which I don't like. There were some things I agree with and some not. But several thing's are for sure.

Statistics aren't going to save my life or make me a better rider.
Statistics aren't going to stop me from riding.
I shouldn't ride what I can't handle safely, or practice until I can.
Don't drink ANY alcohol if you're getting up on two wheels
Take it easy on curves, and extreme caution at intersections.
Of my three riding friends 2 had lost it on curves, 1 got hit by a cager
turning left. They all survived, one no longer rides because of it.
Make yourself as visible as possible, but ride like your invisible.
Take every safety precausion possible... good sticky note on that.

I think all of us know that what we do is a bit dangerous. But pedal bicyling, as a sport, is also the "most" dangerous sport, statistically (blah). I'm willing to take the risk, as I have nothing else that comes close to the pleasure of riding. It's a blast, isn't it?

Thanks everybody.. Hope you all HAVE SAFE summer rides.

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