There is a saying among avid bikers that it is not “if” you will be in a motorcycle accident, but “when.” Indeed, motorcycle accidents are not uncommon. According to the Center for Disease and Prevention Control, the highest death and injury rate for motorcyclists is among 20-29 year-olds, followed by 40-54 year-olds.
What may be surprising is the month in which most fatal motorcycle accidents occur. Regardless of age group, the most dangerous month for motorcycle drivers is the first month after they learn to ride. According to a source from the Highway Loss Data Institute, the first month is approximately four times as risky as the entire second year of bike riding.
An industry expert suspects that the reason for this high risk period in the first month is that operating a bike is a complex task. For example, to pull out into traffic from a stop on a hill requires one to balance on one foot, brake to keep the bike from rolling, shift gears, feather the throttle and release the clutch while still keeping an eye out for traffic dangers.
Some in the industry feel that new baby boomer bikers are more susceptible to accidents because they are using the motorcycle for pleasure riding rather than primarily for transportation. This could create a combination of thrill seeking plus inexperience.
An insurance industry analysis shows that driver’s training courses don’t necessarily help. California, Florida, Idaho and Oregon have state-required training programs for riders under 21 and yet their collision claim rate was 10 percent higher than that in states which do not have that requirement. There is speculation that fast-track training which puts the driver on the road quickly, may give the new driver a false sense of confidence.
Many motorcycle accidents that are fatal are those which involve cars. Bumper stickers make the plea, “Start Seeing Motorcycles,” but sadly that is not always the case. If a careless or illegal move on the part of the car driver causes an accident with injury for the motorcycle driver or passenger, the driver of the car may be liable for damages, including pain and suffering.
Source: Associated Press, “Motorcycle crash risk drops sharply after the first month on the road,” Michael Virtanen, April 15, 2012