When’s the last time you took a motorcycle safety course? If you’re a brand new rider, we hope your answer is recently. If you’ve been riding for 40 years, we hope your answer is also recently. No matter what level of experience we’re at, we could all benefit from ongoing training. Think about it, even teachers go back to school a few times a year to refresh their knowledge, reinforce good habits, and learn about the newest techniques. So why shouldn’t we?
We love motorcycles at Howard Blau Law, and even that is an understatement. They’ve been a passion of his for as many years as the average person has fingers and toes. But we’ve noticed something interesting… everyone always tells you that riders should take safety courses (they should), but as a collective we don’t always talk about the why. So that’s what we’re doing this week and next. We are answering the question: Why should I take a motorcycle safety course?
And this week, we’re answering that question with 12 real-world reasons.
If You Don’t, It Could Hurt…
It’s called the Hurt Report. In 1981, motorcycle safety Hugh (“Harry”) Hurt published a truly comprehensive study of motorcycle accidents in Southern California. For two years Professor Hurt and his team undertook the monumental task of investigating the scenes of 900 motorcycle crashes within minutes of their occurence. Operating day and night, his team was primed to move the instant word of a new accident arrived. Investigators diligently compiled close to 1,000 individual points of data from each accident, including interviews with survivors; measurements; photographs of wreckage, skidmarks, and injuries; and insights gleaned by disassembling the damaged helmets donated by hundreds lucky-to-be-alive riders. The team would later return to the scenes of 505 of the crashes to collect environmental data and interview 2,310 passing motorcyclists.
Eventually, all of this data was analyzed alongside an additional 3,600 police reports from the surrounding region, amounting to a project scale that, to this day, is unsurpassed. Despite its age — yes, this data is 40 years old — the scale of the Hurt Report is such that its findings should still be considered as valid, even as the motorcycling landscape has changed over the years. Here’s what Professor Hurt had to say himself on the matter, “The more time goes by, the less things look different. Riders today have the same sort of accidents as riders in the 1970s, except that today they crash much more expensive bikes.”
In short: some things don’t change. But they don’t have to be the same for you.
…It Could Really Hurt A Lot (aka Don’t Be a Statistic)
We’d actually planned this as one article, but in our research, upon stumbling onto the Hurt Report, we realized we had to devote an entire post to it. The enormity of its scale was impossible to ignore. As in, this thing is 435 pages in total and comprises statistics compiled from more than a million pieces of data.
Ultimately, the findings of the report were summarized in 55 separate points. In reading through them, we noticed 12 of them were so important that we needed to share them with you. For the full list of the findings, which we recommend taking a look at, you can go here. For the data nerds, the entire 435-page report may be found here.
Here are the 12 real-world reasons why you should take that motorcycle safety course today:
#4. In the 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 slide-out and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#27. Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would over brake and skid the rear wheel, and underbrake the front wheel greatly reducing collision avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.
#28. The typical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance action.
#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.
#46. The most deadly Injuries to the accident victims were injuries to the chest and head.
Recommendations and Proposed Countermeasures
That’s the section heading immediately following the four page list summarizing the report’s findings, but what’s most notable is the subheading that immediately follows: “Training.”
Here’s what the report says:
“Specialized motorcycle rider training courses were not readily available during the times of accident or exposure data collection. Consequently there were not many riders who had the advantage of such specialized motorcycle rider training, and the majority of the riders interviewed were untrained and had learned whatever they knew about motorcycles from their own experience or from family and friends.
This lack of training was a significant factor in accident involvement and it is clear that motorcycle riders benefit greatly from such specialized training and could develop important skills, strategies and attitudes to limit accident involvement and reduce injury severity.”
“It is clear that motorcycle riders benefit greatly from such specialized training,” says the report. More reasons why next week.
Have a serious injury and need legal advice?
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Check Out These References for Further Reading:
“California Motorcyclist Training.” California Highway Patrol. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
“Motorcycle Safety.” California Department of Motor Vehicles. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
“Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors And Identification Of Countermeasures Volume I: Technical Report.” US Department of Transportation. Retrieved 24 August 2019.
“How to reduce the risk of getting hurt on a motorcycle.” Consumer Reports. Retrieved 24 August 2019.