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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I wonder how much of a percentage of the overall traffic volume motorcycles are. I would guess something less than 1%.



I also wonder how much of the increased fatality rate can be laid at the feet of decreased helmet use and how much can be laid at the feet of increased SUV, cell phone, etc. use among the cager population.



Some predictions:



1. The government will try to use these statistics to reimpose helmet laws where they have been repealed.



2. More radical elements will try to get bikes banned for "safety" reasons, and insurance companies will drop us like hot potatos.



3. They will completely ignore the fact that SUVs are just bloody dangerous as are the behaviour that too many cupholders encourages. They probably didn't collect any information about the physics of driving two tons of excess metal with a cell phone in one hand, a big mac in one hand, a cup of coffee in one hand, and uh... How many hands does that leave?



4. Nobody will actually get around to updating the Hurt report or studying non-fatal accidents.



5. Absolutely nobody will make any kind of official estimate of how many fewer fatalities there would be and how much imported oil we would'nt burn if motorcycle riders were 10% of traffic volume instead of 1%.



Ok. I'm going to take my medication now.
 

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Re: Florida helmet law repeal results

Availability of 2000 data in NHTSA's query system (link appears on the linked page) makes it possible to answer the question: how bad was the carnage in Florida after they repealed their helmet law on July 1, 2000?

The answer you'll hear from the government and other helmet law proponents is that it was devastating. Deaths increased by 46% over 1999.

The answer you ought to hear, but won't, is that a small increase occurred due to non-use of helmets, possibly not even statistically significant. In the first half of the year, when the helmet law was still in effect, deaths increased by 43%, from 87 in the first six months of 1999 to 124 in 2000. In the second half of the year, after repeal, deaths increased by 48%, from 91 to 135. If the 43% first-half rate of increase had continued through the second half of the year, the second-half toll would have been 130 rather than 135.

Now, if that doesn't start a flame war, I've completely lost my touch. ;-)
 

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Re: Florida helmet law repeal results

Some might say that 5 lives lost are too many, blah, blah, blah. I say, the kinds of accidents in the second half of the year could not be identical to the accidents in the first half of the year, so you can't extrapolate that kind of data. My guess is that helmets or not, most of the people involved in serious motorcycle accidents will die.

A SNELL approved motorcycle helmet only has to withstand a 14 mph impact (about a 6 foot drop with a dummy head inside). That comes out to you traveling 7mph hitting a SUV (pick a hated care/object of your choice) going the other way traveling 7mph, or you tripping 'cause you didn't see the crack in the sidewalk due to your full face lid, and not catching yourself with your hands 'cause they were fishing in your pockets for your keys. Pitiful. I believe in helmets, but I wish they did more.
 

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True, but you measure like tank armor...

These measurements are based on direct 90 degree impacts. I'm no physicist and I probably can't spell it either, but I'm sure our resident collegiate Starving will come up with the formula.

Force of impact is lessened when angle of attack is increased. Me taking my head the ramming the crown into a wall at 90 degress will do more damage than my banging my head in to the wall at 45 or 20 degrees.

Most times, if you hit your head on the rear end of an suv (Volvo, if you're in Europe) crown on, you're dead. However,m ost head injuries on a bike will be from tumbling/sliding down the road, or from impact on the road after ejection from the vehicle. In a situation like this, the direction of force on your head will NOT be the same direction as the object your unfortunate head is hitting, thus lessening the damage by a reduction in angle.

And even if, if i have a choice of hitting my head at 14mph in a helmet or none, I'll take the helmet...and my leathers, and my gloves, and my boots...you know what I mean?

Foxy
 

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Re: True, but you measure like tank armor...

Whoops, I meant force is lessened when angle of attack DECREASES. Sorry.

Foxy
 

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If Im reading this correctly, and I think I am, you are more than 4 times as likely to die in a motorcycle crash in DC where there are mandatory helmet laws than in New Hampshire, where there are no helmet laws for those over 18, and about 84 bazzillion bikers. (second per capita only to alaska, not a joke) Also using a helmet is only likely to save your life 29 percent of the time. (Read: You still die 79 percent of the time.
 

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If there are more motorbikes on the road, the fatality rate is lower because car drivers are more aware of them.



If you look at the figures, warmer states generally have higher fatality rates - this maybe is because shock (loss of fluid) from being dragged along the road in shorts and flip-flops is higher in those states.



BTW, Italy has realtively low fatality rates despite helmet laws being ignored.

This is for two reasons :

- There are lots of bikes, and therefore higher awareness.

- Most bikes are scooters. Blood loss from having toes and feet severed in rear wheels is a major cause of death in accidents. Scooters have 'bathtub' enclosures.
 

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Re: Florida helmet law repeal results

Just pulling numbers out of the air here, but if the majority of the early-year non-helmet wearing bikers in Florida are just there for Daytona, then it wouldn't surprize me that non-helmet stats for the 2nd half of the year would decrease.. there's just not as many of these types of riders around.

Or, have I just not had enough coffee yet? :)

-James
 

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FYI: Per the NHTSA (DOT) site in 1999 motorcycles made up less than 2% of the vehicles on the road in the USA. I would surmise that we're talking M/C volumes being closer to 2% than 1%.



Although I oppose helmet laws from a personal freedom standpoint, I NEVER ride without one. Unfortunately, society must pick up the tab for those riders that failed to properly protect themselves in the form of huge medical losses. You and I are directly affected by higher premiums on our insurances, both M/C and health. It's a real dilemna.
 

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If you follow the link to NHTSA site and download and read the PDF file on motorcycle fatalities, it tells you exactly that (for 1990-1999, but not for 2000). For example, in 1999, there were 4,152,433 motorcycles registered, and they travelled 10,584 million miles.
 

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It's actually even worse than that (per 1999 stats)...



Three of the top four states, as ranked by fatalities per registered vehicle, had laws requiring helmets for all:

#1 - 26.9 - Washington D.C. - Required

#2 - 13.9 - South Carolina - only req'd if <18

#3 - 13.5 - North Carolina - Required

#4 - 12.3 - West Virginia - Required



On the other hand, the 3 states that have absolutely no helmet requirements at all were near or below the national average (which is 6.0)



Colorado - 6.3

Illinois - 4.8

Iowa - 2.4



Let's keep in mind, though, that these are rates per registered vehicle, not per vehicle mile travelled. Neither stat is perfect, but it stands to reason that rates per registered vehicle will be disproportionately low among cold-weather states and disproportionately high among warm-weather states, because the average registered vehicle will travel fewer miles per year in a cold-weather state.



What I'd really like to see, regarding helmet effectiveness, is statistics that differentiate between:

A) Helmetless riders

B) Not-really-DOT-approved helmets

C) Half-helmets

D) 3/4 Helmets

E) Full-face non-snell-approved helmets

F) Full-face snell-approved helmets



Information like that would be genuinely useful to riders when selecting a helmet.



I have a sneaking suspicion that there are some fatalities where the person was wearing a helmet, that could have been prevented by use of a *better* helmet. But then, I'm one of those people that wears their full-face helmet and leathers, regardless of the laws or temperature, so I should probably just be written off as an extremely biased nut case.
 

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In responce to #3 yesterday while cruising back from lunch on 680 in CA a lady passed me doing about 95 mph driving with her knee. She was holding a salad in one hand and a fork in the other. Almost makes me want to suggest that they put heart rate monitors in the steering wheel to where if you dont have your hands on it a rev limiter kicks in and shuts down the ignition. Though thats not too safe either. I would love to see a comparison between european stats and ours, well with higher requirements on driving over the pond. I would like to see how much of a difference that makes. Being this morning as I came into work ( before anyone else) I watched a lady back into her parking space with nobody around and have it take 3 minutes for her to get the car properely aligned and backed in. I would of taken me 5 seconds, yet she made a 5 point turn to get 90 degree's and still wasnt aligned properly. This wasnt an huge suv, it was a camry. Needless to say Im on the lookout for that one when in the area in the future.
 

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The report says that motorcycles make up 2% of registered vehicles and 0.4% of vehicle miles travelled.



I don't believe the "must require helmets to lessen the financial burden on society" argument. That's nothing more than an attempt to justify a chosen position.



If you genuinely wanted to lessen the financial burden of unnecessary medical bills on society, you sure wouldn't start with motorcycle helmets. You'd probably start with things like eliminating the long-term use of life support machines for people who will never recover. If you randomly felt like targetting a manufactured product that contributes to (or could prevent) medical costs, you'd probably try to require bathtub manufacturers to use non-slip surfaces, or try to ban all alcohol use, or something big like that.



Of course, if you were really serious about long-term results, you'd be arguing for education... such as a class (not some stupid one-day seminar) called "general safety" that everyone must pass to graduate from high school. That would have an enormous impact. Requiring helmet use among motorcyclists is trivial in comparison.



That said... I cannot even imagine riding my bike without a full-face helmet (and other protective gear), regardless of what the legal requirements might be. At some level, I'm still confused about why helmets and five-point harnesses and rollcages and firesuits and such aren't required for cars & trucks, too.
 

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Another case of mindlessness

Is there anyone else that is sick and tired of moronic arguments against a particular type of vehicle? The SUV is no more dangerous than the person driving it. An Accord, a semi, or even another motorcycle are just as dangerous depending on who is driving it. The highest-selling vehicle in the United States for like the last twenty years has been the Ford F-150. Pickup trucks are every bit as large and heavy as SUV's. Why isn't everybody up in arms over pickup trucks? How many accidents do brain-dead idiots with their extended-cabbed, dual-exhausted, Polaris-stickered trucks cause? Why doesn't anybody complain about 18-wheelers anyway? They are much larger, more dangerous, and more uncontrollable than any SUV. To single out the SUV is completely irrational.

Furthermore----

I have now been personal witness to 5 motorcycle crashes in my four years of riding. I have also crashed myself. None of these crashes involved another vehicle---all were due to rider inexperience/stupidity. I also know of 2 friends and one acquiantance that have all crashed this summer. All single-vehicle accidents.

Cars are certainly involved in some motorcycle incidents, no doubt, but to single out a type of vehicle is irrational and completely unjustified by this data. Of course, I'm sure that won't stop starvingstudent from voting for you anyways.

My point is

#1) There is no evidence in this study to suggest that SUV's are more dangerous to motorcyclists than anything else. The inattentive SUV driver would be just as dangerous driving a Civic.

#2) There is, however, monumental data in the study suggesting that motorcycle riders should slow down, wear their helmets, and lay off the booze.
 

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Re: Another case of mindlessness

I think the SUV arguement is more of just a representation of the inattentive drivers, and also a scapegoat. I got all types of 4 wheelers aiming for me in Phoenix. You are right that any vehicle is pretty much just as dangerous with an idiot behind the wheel. A scatter brained friend of mine almost ran me over with his truck yesterday, because he wasn't paying attention. Maybe SUVs give their operators a sense of security and therefore don't pay attention to what is going on around them. That being said, maybe we on our 2 wheeled missles get a sense power and freedom that can drive us to do stupid things like lane splitting at 100 or trying to scrape pegs at every corner.

The groups that want to ban/restrict bikes have their reasons. Whether or not we agree with them. We have our reasons to want our bikes, helmet/no helmet. The best way to look out for our respective intrests is to get involved in any legislation and motorcycle organizations that may be making changes to laws and manufacturing. Try to make you voice heard and make the best arguement.

Rubber side down.
 

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The argument against SUVs

Here's some reasons why people single out SUVs:

1) SUVs are not as agile, nor do they brake as well as cars. Thus, everything else being equal, they are less likely to be able to avoid an accident than a car.

2) SUVs weigh more than cars. Therefore, when they hit you (again, everything else being equal) they transfer more energy than cars, thus increasing the damages to you.

3) Motorcycles ride low. SUV drivers ride high. This makes it more difficult for SUV drivers to see motorcycles than it is for car drivers. Ever passed through the blind spot (quickly, of course) of an excursion? Try to spot the drivers head.

If SUVs were driven like they are supposed to be driven (slower than cars, not following as close, etc) they wouldn't be a problem. Has anyone out there noticed that SUVs are driven differently than cars? The only difference I see in the way SUVs drive is that they don't slow down when the roads are bad, like cars do, despite the fact that we all have four wheel brakes.

As for your inattentive driver in an SUV being just as dangerous as an inattentive driver in a Civic, ask yourself seriously: Which would you rather be surrounded by on your bike? A light, agile small car, or a heavy, lumbering SUV? The choice is easy for me.

As for your 18 wheeler argument, I disagree. Semi drivers have to get a special operators licence. To get this licence, they are educated on the limitiations of their vehicle, something msot SUV drivers are ignorant about. Compare how often a semi tailgates you on your bike versus how often a SUV tailgates you. I've probably gotten lucky, but I've never, in 45,000 miles on a motorcycle, been tailgated by a semi. I really think they have alot of respect for motorcyclists.

All that being said, the best four weapons, by far, for avoiding accidents are: sobriety, protective gear, defensive riding, and education. I'd be willing to bet that 5% or less of the motorcyclists who died last year had all four of these factors on thier side.

grover750
 

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Re: True, but you measure like tank armor...

I'm bored, so here's the math.

impact force = overall force X sin(impact angle)

This is assuming you're hitting the road, a horizontal surface. I'll define horizontal as 0 degrees and a "diving board" collision with the road 90 degrees. Using some trig and neglecting friction (which is neglecting quite a bit between a helmet and the road) the impact force will be the vertical component of the overall impact force, which will be the overall force (the hypotenuse of the triangle) times the sine of the angle of impact.
 
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