Why Do People Ride Motorcycles When It’s So Dangerous?

by Gabrielle DeSantis

Motorcycle riders will tell you many reasons why the open road on two wheels is so appealing. After all, the wind in your face and the freedom of riding in the open are exhilarating. But statistics show the risks associated with motorcycle riding can be devastating. So why do motorcyclists ride when they know it’s dangerous? 

Driving is riskier on a motorcycle

Considering the physics alone, you might assume there are some safety advantages to riding a motorcycle. It’s a smaller vehicle than a car and can quickly maneuver to avoid minor incidents. But the risks and dangers are significant.

Because riders are out in the open, any accident means risking serious bodily harm. A pile of gravel or crack in the pavement can translate to an accident in the blink of an eye.

And as for visibility, a motorcycle is harder for other motorists to see, increasing the risk of crashes. This also means despite a seasoned motorcyclist’s skills, riders can’t control other drivers’ mistakes. 

The devastating motorcycle statistics

RELATED: Motorcycle Deaths Are Up a Scary Amount as Car Fatalities Drop, Forbes Reports

The Insurance Information Institute provides some pretty awful statistics in terms of injuries and deaths associated with motorcycles. In 2019, 5,014 motorcyclists died in crashes. Those riding motorcycles were also almost 29 times likelier than car occupants to die in an accident per mile traveled. Every year since 2015, more than 5,000 motorcyclists die, indicating the risks continue to imperil riders.

Not every motorcycle accident is a fatal one. But injuries can be just as devastating. 2019 saw 84,000 injuries, translating to a 975 injury rate per 100,000 registered motorcyclists. The III shows 82,000 reported injuries in 2018 and 89,000 in 2017. 

Why Americans continue to ride

Some motorcycle enthusiasts will say they continue to ride because it’s fun and exhilarating. Others do it out of acceptance or as part of a group. But Business Insider says it could also be the Zen factor.

Because riding a motorcycle requires uninterrupted focus and constant monitoring, it’s hard to think of anything else. Watching road conditions, other drivers, lane positioning, and speed mean all other daily stresses disappear. Being on a bike requires mindfulness. And that peace could be the driving force behind motorcycling’s continued popularity. 

Safety tips before heading out on the road

Before hopping on a motorcycle, consider the risks. You can also take safety measures to help reduce your risk of injury or death. In 2020, about 71 percent of riders wore helmets. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests helmets saved 1,872 lives in 2017. Helmets are 37 percent and 41 percent more effective at preventing driver fatalities and passenger deaths, respectively. 

Other safety tips include practicing in secluded areas before taking to the open road. Get comfortable maneuvering your motorcycle in an environment that poses fewer threats, including quick braking and turning. Before you head out, check that motorcycle works properly. Secure any loose items verifying tire condition, too.

With the summer upon us, more motorcycles will be hitting the roadways. As a biker, you’ll want to take every safety precaution to ensure you reduce your risks. For those traditional vehicle drivers, stay alert and watch for bikers. A minor fender-bender for a car or truck driver can be devastating to motorcyclists. Awareness is key to avoiding those situations.

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