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Thread: Risk of Death Statistics

  1. #1
    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! Sorg67's Avatar
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    Risk of Death Statistics

    After years of persistent negotiation, my 19 year old son finally convinced me to get a couple motorcycles. We got a Kawasaki KLX 250S and a Suzuki DRZ 400S. Wow, I forgot how fun motorcycles are! Now my 21 year old son wants to ride too so I am considering a third bike. But is this really a smart thing to get myself and my boys into? Are we taking too much risk of dying? There are plenty of other fun things to do. Should we use more safety gear?

    So as I have been pondering my responsibilities as a parent I have been looking at statistics. I have seen a lot of risk of death statistics which of course are for motorcycle riders as a whole. They include very skilled, experienced and conservative riders and they include unskilled, inexperienced lunatics ripping around with no helmets. We are not very skilled or experienced, but we are conservative and we do wear helmets. Or at least I am and my boys are when they are with me.

    So I have seen statistics showing the risk of death riding a motorcycle as being about 18 times the risk of death in a car. But how does that break-down among various rider profiles? When they scrape some lunatic of the pavement he is not marked in the lunatic category. The statistics do not differentiate.

    But I have got to believe that you should at least be able to cut your risk in half by using safety gear, taking a rider safety course and riding conservatively. Motorcycles attract a lot of lunatics. I was one when I had a motorcycle when I was a kid. My kids are much more responsible than I was when I was their age. Or if not, they are doing a really good job of hiding their lunacy from me.

    So let's say my guess is right and I can cut my risk of death in half by developing my skills and riding conservatively. Now we are looking at about 9 times the risk of death on a motorcycle vs in a car. That, according to the statistics I have seen is about the same as the risk of death riding a bicycle on the road.

    Fair rationale? You might argue that it is not fair to remove the lunatics from the motorcycle statistics and compare them to unadjusted bicycle statistics. Perhaps. But I would argue that motorcycles attract a lot more lunatics than bicycles so removing the lunatics would have greater impact on motorcycle statistics than bicycles. And, I would argue that motorcycles provide a greater opportunity to be proactively safer.

    So anyway, my argument is that the risk death for a "safe" motorcycle rider is similar to the risk of death for bicycle rider. Valid or delusional?

  2. #2
    RiderCoach 4000 Posts! AZridered's Avatar
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    Riding responsibly probably cuts your risk by better than 50%. Nearly half of all motorcycle crashes are single-vehicle crashes with no significant outside factors (bad weather, slick surface, animals, mechanical failure). Of multi-vehicle crashes, nearly half of those are the motorcyclists fault (we really don't like to admit that). So riding patiently and conservatively, well within your skill set, makes a very big difference.

    As for riding gear? Being seen deters crashes. Being protected from environmental factors reduces fatigue, which reduces crashes. And last, if you do crash, protective gear provides protection.

    Improving operator skill may reduce crashes. Improved skill only helps when a rider does not use their new skill to ride at a higher risk level (one of our worst traits). Most training courses put a lot of emphasis on improving skill and only lightly emphasize rider choice. MSF curricula has gradually been shifting toward addressing behavior more than skill but I cannot speak for the other guys.

    Reducing risk by changing your riding behavior is a decision that you can make right now and put into practice instantly.
    Reducing risk by improving your skill level is a slow process that requires continued study and constant practice.

  3. #3
    Flirting With The Redline 3000 Posts! Galaxieman's Avatar
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    First off... Welcome. Quite the 1st post.

    Second, pretty much all of what AZridered said. If you look at factors as they relate to diminishing returns, riding behavior is by far the largest factor that can reduce crashes. Just postulating, but I'd rank skill as the next most important factor, with gear selection being less of a direct reduction in crashes. However, when you consider that you can change your behavior right now, and you can get all of the benefits of visible gear helping you be seen right now, that moves above the skill development in terms of early 'bang for the buck'. Building skill then becomes the longer term goal after you commit to wearing gear and not riding like a hoon. And as long as you manage to wear the gear all the time, you are then protected on the occasions your inner hooligan takes over. Been there, done that.

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    Hittin' The Twisties buzzyclone's Avatar
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    Looks like you are mitigating that risk with your sons. Your calculations might not be so far off as alcohol, speed, and lack of training are the main issues. Interestingly most life insurance companies donít consider motorcycling a risky hobby (unless racing) that affects your rates as other hobbies like Piloting, Scuba Diving, Climbing, and Back Country Skiing / Snowboarding. After some highly accurate calculations by myself I have an equal chance of dying from my love of Taco Bell.

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    Flirting With The Redline 10,000 Posts! Shadow Shack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buzzyclone View Post
    After some highly accurate calculations by myself I have an equal chance of dying from my love of Taco Bell.
    Considering how efficiently Taco Bell turns the digestive system into a straight pipe, I think you're being a little liberal with the bike stats.
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    Senior Moderator We've stopped counting... subvetSSN606's Avatar
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    Welcome aboard Sorg67!

    Your question has already been well answered.
    To run your own numbers look at the number of crashes where speed and/or alcohol impairment were factors, realizing that riding conservatively and sober eliminates all those crashes from the numbers that apply to you.

    Here's one report: http://www.internationaltransportfor...Padmanaban.pdf

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  7. #7
    Hittin' The Twisties buzzyclone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Shack View Post
    Considering how efficiently Taco Bell turns the digestive system into a straight pipe, I think you're being a little liberal with the bike stats.

    Ahhh, but it's all about the miles. Since I commute most days to work and I eat Taco Bell less than once every 2 weeks, well... you may be right.

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    Flirting With The Redline 2000 Posts! AlwaysLearnin's Avatar
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    Sounds to me like you have a pretty good handle on it already.

    Take the training classes you can, ride with protective gear, don't outride your abilities, don't just go out and jump into situations your not ready for (the interstate during your first week/month of riding), don't let another rider coax you into doing something you're not comfortable doing, and most importantly don't zone out while you're riding. STAY VIGILANT. Oh yeah, and practice, practice, practice. Find a nice quiet, unoccupied parking lot that will let you hone your low speed and braking abilities. It's really good if you have such a parking lot you can use at the beginning or end of each ride. A little practice as often as possible will have a cumulative effect on your skill level. All of these will help mitigate your risk.

    Most importantly.....enjoy the ride!
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    Flirting With The Redline thud300's Avatar
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