Off The Press

May 27, 2014

By Joe Grove

Manage the risk,  don’t avoid it

Joe Grove Press reporter

Joe Grove
Press reporter

With spring weather quietly coming in “on little cat feet,” more motorcycles are disrupting the silence. In another month, they will be thicker than fleas on a hog’s back.

As they roar, whine or putt putt(depending on the type), wiping out the delightful sounds of birds, frogs and crickets, a spouse or mother somewhere is arguing, to usually no avail, with a loved one about buying one of these death traps.

Rather than fight this losing battle, which will leave everyone feeling badly, why not take the risk management approach? With a little education, the risk can almost be eliminated, which is more than you can say for many other adrenaline producing sports.

Start by reading the Hurt Report. A good summary can be found on the Internet: Google it. It is an old report (1976), but will serve the purpose well.

According to the report, three-fourths of motorcycle accidents involve a collision with another vehicle, usually a passenger car.

The most common words out of a driver’s mouth after hitting a motorcycle are “I didn’t see it.” That means conspicuity becomes the motorcyclist’s best friend. Don’t buy a black motorcycle, black leather jacket, black chaps and a black helmet. If you want to manage this risk, go for bright colors when you chose a bike, riding clothes and a helmet.

So, one-fourth of the accidents were single-vehicle accidents, with the motorcycle colliding with something as a result of rider error. You manage this risk by making sure the object of your affection is properly trained.

Fortunately, in this state the best way to get licensed is to take a Motorcycle Safety Foundation course offered at many sites around the state. Most of the motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training. Ninety-two percent were self-taught or learned to ride from family or friends. Just like I would not teach my own son how to drive a car, I would not teach him how to ride a motorcycle. These are jobs for a professional.

Almost half of the fatal accidents involved alcohol. How often do you see a black motorcycle, with a rider dressed in black, pull up to a bar?

Motorcycles that have been highly modified, think choppers, are overrepresented in the statistics.

The most deadly injuries were those to the chest and the head. So, make sure your loved one wears protective clothing, whether he or she likes it or not. That includes a DOT- or Snell-approved helmet, leather or heavy canvas riding pants (not chaps) and jacket, with proper armor built in if made of fabric, and leather boots up over the ankles. Make your loved one stand at attention before every ride, even the short ones, and repeat after you, ATGATT, short for All The Gear All The Time.

Let’s summarize, bright colors, good gear, proper training and no alcohol, and you have managed your risk so well that your chances of getting in trouble are now no greater than you neighbor walking her dog down a city sidewalk. I would encourage you to read the entire report.


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