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Good point. Well I know that in Britain that although the numbers of deaths is up a similar amount, but he number of deaths per million miles is down significantly. The increased numbers are accounted for by a nearly doubling in the numbers of bike and scooter riders. It is is worth noting that britain introduced some very tough bike training laws about ten years ago. If you start at 17 and go through the whole lot it now takes you:



1. Certificate of basic training to get on the road AT ALL. (About a day of training)



2. 11hp test



3. written test - (which is not just 15 multiple choice questions)



4. 33hp test



5. Unlimited hp test



If you start at 21, the 11hp test can be missed - but the point is, very few people can pass these tests without going on a 3 or 5 day taining course. This is not were people learn to ride fast, but they do learn what they need to do to ride safely.



The biggest one of these is how to look around you properly as you ride. I'd got licenses in other countries before I did my british license and I still had trouble with the amount of looking around they want you to do, and you don't learn it unless you're forced to.



Here's a simple example. Turn left: Look over your right shoulder to check for people inside you. Indicate. Check over your left shoulder. Move to the middle of the road. 10-15 feet before you turn, look over your left shoulder again and turn. This last look is called the lifesaver and is there in case there is some nutcase trying to overtake you as turn. It's certaininly saved my bacon since I've been using it and is something I'm glad I do most of the time.



I tell you, this amount of observation takes learning and is uncomfortable until you practice it a lot. Most people without this training have a quick clance in the mirror before they turn.



 

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Very interesting. Since nearly getting clipped a couple of years ago, I have religiously done the "head check" before changing lanes or turning -- to the point that I'm looking for a helmet that offers better peripheral vision than my otherwise fantastic Arai. Do you know of a book, Web site or other training materials that get into detail about when and where you should be loooking to avoid accidents? What you've described goes well beyond what I've read or heard before.
 

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yea.. I know that one. I'm 39 and got acused of mid-life crap when I bought my 1150GS. But it's a damn site more sensible than some of the much smaller bikes I've owned (including a Suzuki Pepsi 250 in the eighties.. nutcase of a bike - how may engine rebuilds?)



There is a difference between someone who buys a liter class bike who has been riding constantly for 20 years and one who rode 20 years ago. We have adjusted to the fact that our bikes are faster and our reactions slower. (Well, mine are, and if you think yours aren't, you've ignoring facts - always dangerous on a bike) And the way we get round this is much increased experience, anticipating problems much better. But if you've not been on a bike in years, you ain't got that going for you either.
 

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Seruzawa, while I've reached a stage in my life where the sport bike riding position has become less that pleasurable it is hard to agrue that one has less control of a bike of this configuration. The naked, standard,or dirtbike riding position in my view is superior for street riding, however the cruiser stance where one has thier feet splayed out and in front, like a woman getting a gynocological exam, offers the least control when the going gets dicey. You will note that in no example of motorcycle competition will you find riders using the cruiser control layout. VWW
 

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"There is a difference between someone who buys a liter class bike who has been riding constantly for 20 years and one who rode 20 years ago."



That, in a nutshell, I belive is the core of why this trend is occurring. I agree completely.



250 two stroke eh? Sounds like fun. I have a buddy who simply will not give up on his RZ350s. He is an odd fellow.



I think when we are young, we are drawn to high rpm and intensity. I know I was. I loved my revvy inline 4 cylinders.



Now I am driven by the primal thump of the big twins, only I like mine wrapped in sporting but not supersporting clothes. The Aprillia Tuono sure looks interesting. Explains why I love my TL so (at making some comfort mods) I guess...
 

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I think it's not too mysterious.



A. Motorcycles have changed by leaps and bounds since 1997. A 600 is putting down 115hp+ and weighs less than 400lb's. Expensive custom choppers are 10 times more popular they are essentially mainstream, but they are just as unwieldy as ever.



B. The AMA still does jack squat about proper rider education and safety training. Handing out passive propaganda does not count. Those MSF courses ... well forget it thats a different story. Fricken AMA, what the hell do you get for your membership? I get more from a regular Honda Red Rider card!



C. The culture of youth riders is twice as retarded as before. Now you have this whole Street stunt riding culture that says go out and buy a gixxer, do some wheel stands down the freeway while wearing shorts and some tatoo's. Plus you have Johnny 30 something and his wife buying fashionable Harley's and trying to be "rebel rock star" while they have no clue about riding.



I would like to see a study that analyses the motorcycle accidents based on rider background.



The comon theme is "Where they drinking? Where they young?"



I think more interesting is: Where they alone? Where they experienced? What kind of rider were they? Sport? Harley? Commuter? Gang?



75% of the riders I encounter seem to be newbies without proper gear who are way too motivated by pop culture. Guys who get all excited by the trailers for Biker Boys. Or couples who think the hard part about motorcycling is choosing which fashion to go with.



I am sounding more and more like an old man.... I'll stop right here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
Actually, I prefer the visibility from a sport bike - the seat position is typically higher than on a cruiser (at least my Suzuki cruiser). Secondly, I experience much better maneuverability with the clip-ons than the wide bars on the Suzuki. In a situation requiring evasive action, I'd much rather be on a sport bike...
 

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Discussion Starter · #52 ·
Agreed. I have three bikes, and the Suzuki SV650 is the smallest but perhaps the most fun. I have friends that deride me (pun intended) for buying the SV. I really don't care, but I know that perception and peer pressure are reasons why more small cc bikes aren't sold. Everyone has to have an open class bike so their friends don't laugh at them... Lastly, if I feel like just taking a leisurely sport bike ride, the SV is perfect - however if I'm on the Ducati just dawdling, people laugh and think I'm a poseur. I'll beat 'em at the next track day...
 

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As I said, it's just my opinion. I simply find the sportbike position limits my visibility and is more fatiguing for me than either cruisers or standards. Someone else's experience may be quite different. I find fatigue to be the most severe factor and I simply can't find a modern sportbike that doesn't result in severe fatigue for me in a relatively short period.



I completely agree about the stupid forward controls insanity that has over taken the cruisers. My cruiser experience is mainly on Harley's Super Glides, which sport normally positioned controls and older Japanese cruisers with likewise footpegs. This insistence on forward controls is stupid. And, with the inexperienced, dangerous.
 

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Re: Point taken

This is America. A .38 Special may be sufficient unto the task but everyone's got to show off their machoism and buy the .454 Casull, right?

Buy a 600 or 750? Heck no! What would their friends think?
 

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One comment in the article tries to cite an increase in average engine displacement as a possible reason for the increase in fatalities. I may be wrong but all these Harleys sold in the last 5 years are probably responsible for the increase in average displacement size, but does anyone think a 60 hp harley motor is going to tempt anyone to do dangerous "hooligan" antics, or to lose control because of the motor? I didn't think so. The people that write these articles seem to be awfully ignorant of real-world motorcycling.
 

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Jesus! I hate these articles. How much money needs to be spent for everyone to realize that motorcycles are dangerous?!? Isn't that obvious? While going down the road at 55 to 85mph I am at risk of critical or mortal injury. Helmeted, suited and defensive I’m still at risk. If you’re not comfortable riding and bearing the risk then buy a fukkin’ Volvo.



The only thing that can come from this is greater restrictions to enjoying my chosen form of transportation from people who don’t understand that joy. Look out for required orange helmets and bright yellow riding gear complete with air vest and seatbelts. These all followed by restricted engine size and max power.



So people are dieing from riding motorcycles. Johnny rocket racer is just as dead as Billy badass biker. The only people who aren’t dieing are on small cc dirt bikes and they have to deal with the broken bones and ruptured spleens.



Why would we as riders even what this studied? The only thing the article mentioned that even remotely sounds like a good idea is the education of drivers about sharing the road with us. However, that will be the last thing attempted. Would it be nice to know why deaths have gone up? Maybe, but then some would feel the need to fix it and then we’re screwed.



Hopefully I won’t have to give up riding because the joy of riding has been extracted from the experience of it.



Derrick

 

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The rate of fatal U.S. crashes per 100 million miles ridden increased by 59 percent from 1997 to 2001, from 21.43 to 34.4

I don't believe it because I think the estimate of miles ridden in 2001 is screwed up. According to NHTSA, average miles ridden per registered motorcycle plummeted 19% between 2000 and 2001, from 2409 to 1944. Over the previous 10 years, average miles meandered around 2500/year, varying a few percent a year (the biggest variation was +9.4% in 1994). The large drop seen in 2001 simply doesn't make sense and has the effect of exaggerating fatality rate. Wondering whether September 11, 2001 may have affected riding, I checked fatalities by month and found that 19% of the year's fatals occurred in October–December compared to 15% in the fourth quarter 2000.

While deaths/mile should be a better metric, I think that deaths per registered bike is preferable given the flaky miles/bike estimate. From 1997 to 2001, deaths per 100,000 motorcycles increased 17.3%, from 55.3 to 64.88, still problematic but more reasonable. The deaths/motorcycle rate actually dropped a little in 2001 from a high of 66.66 in 2000.

Graying riders…

It's clear that the riding population is aging—it's not twentysomethings buying up Harleys at $20K a pop—so the number of older riders killed will increase merely because they're a growing demographic. But the implication here is that older riders are more likely to crash than younger riders, and that's not true. The median age of riders killed in 2001 was 35 while the median age of the riding population was at least 38 (that's what it was in 1998, and it continues to rise). So older riders are less likely to die than younger riders. BTW, that's exactly what Harry Hurt found in 1980, but for an overall younger riding population.

...weakened helmet laws...

This probably is a factor, but it can't account for much of the increase because only 5 states (AR, FL, KY, LA, TX) have repealed helmet laws since 1997 and many of the increased fatalities in those states are due to a growing number of riders.

...drunken motorcyclists...

This is probably not a factor. The percentage of riders in fatal crashes with blood alcohol .08 or higher dropped from 32% in 1997 to 29% in 2001.

...souped-up engines...

Hard to say. Big motors have grown as a percentage of bikes involved in fatal crashes, but that's primarily due to booming Harley sales. And Harleys are, in general, not particularly fast motorcycles.

...oblivious car drivers...

Sure they're a problem, but they've always been a problem. To the extent they're responsible for the increase, one would expect multiple-vehicle motorcycle crashes to rise and single-vehicle crashes to fall. But that's not the case. Single-vehicle fatal crashes actually increased slightly between 1997 and 2001, from 44% to 46% of the total.

...but safety experts aren't quite sure why the rate of fatal crashes
is soaring as fatal car and truck crash rates fall.


Here's my hypothesis: A growing riding population (registrations increased nationally by 28% from 1997 to 2001) has the effect of increasing average risk in the riding population. Harry Hurt found that newbies are about 50% more likely to crash than experienced riders. So when the sport booms, the greater percentage of newbies will increase average risk, and fatality rates (not just numbers) will rise.

Conversely, when the sport declines as it did from 1980 to 1997 (registrations dropped by 34%), a smaller percentage of newbies will decrease average risk in the population, and both fatality numbers and rates will fall. And that's exactly what happened from 1980 to 1997; deaths per 100,000 registrations dropped 39%.

So the increase in rates we now see is the mirror image of the decrease seen through 1997. However, rates are still reasonably low by historical comparison. The 2001 fatality rate per 100,000 registrations is now back to the early '90s level but still well below the 1980 rate.

If my hypothesis is correct, we'll continue to see high fatality rates in 2002 and maybe beyond because the sport has continued to grow. Over the period 1997–2001, the biggest increase in registrations (13%) occurred in 2001. And sales boomed again in 2002: Harley recently announced an 18.3% increase in motorcycle sales over 2001, BMW a 9% increase. As sales increase, so does the percentage of newbies in the riding population and, with it, average risk.

[Most of my data comes from the NHTSA website, specifically the annual "Traffic Safety Facts" publication and Motorcycle Fact Sheets. Some came from ad hoc queries run on the FARS database, a link to which can be found at the NHTSA site.]
 

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Re: More than surprising

How about cell phone usage by car drivers! Had a motorcycle get run down by a lady not too long ago while she was dialing her phone! Probably checking to see what to pick up for supper....
 

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Re: Crash! Splat! Statistics do vary wildly

If you are interested check out New Zealand's motorcycle crash stats here http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/research/annual-statistics-2001/docs/motorcycle-table-32.pdf

What you will see is that over a 50 year period they vary quite wildly if you calculated percentages and for the life of me I can see no easily identifed reasons for the swings. The worst year for fatalities in this list was 1955 and the best is 2000, but there are clusters of highs and lows all over the place. The figure for 2001 at 6.1 per 10,000 bikes compares close to the US per 100,000 bikes figure.

So can you draw any conclusions? Probably not and I suspect the same applies in the US, though people try to analyse figures to death.

Should we worry? Try this table http://www.ltsa.govt.nz/research/annual-statistics-2001/docs/motorcycle-table-34.pdf

What that shows in NZ is that the greatest number of fatalities of bikers are due to loss of control while cornering - nothing to do with SUVs or other cagers - just bikers overcooking it - either incompetent riders or riding beyond their ability at that time I presume.

So take care out there and watch the corners - that will get the fatality rate down - at least in this country.

Cheers

Merv.
 
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