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16 August 2008

Sometimes things are so obvious that even I guess right. [More:]

In danf's thread I made a totally anecdotal observation that turns out to be upheld by actual numbers. Not something I'd actually want to be right about, but it was so obvious...
One of my foster kids was (is?) in love with in love with in love with motorcycles. She grew up with one, and she was riding her friend's bike (without a license or any training). I took her for motorcycle safety training (we both took the class), and she was really good -- one of the best in the class, good coordination, etc. Fast forward a few weeks, to about two weeks ago, she has her license, she was riding her friend's bike, and bam, a car leaving a driveway hit her. With more experience she probably could have avoided the accident, which was the car driver's fault. Amazingly, my kid had no serious injuries, just a couple of leg wounds, and bruising, no broken bones (though she's still limping, poor kid). The bike was totalled. The car driver's insurance will presumably pay, once they call me back (grr).
posted by Claudia_SF 16 August | 13:17
Here in southern California I see more and more novice riders than I've ever seen before on bikes, scooters, and motorcycles. Yesterday, while driving down a four-lane, 65-mph-signed road, I saw a motorcyclist going around 70-75 wearing only a t-shirt and shorts. So dumb. Everyone on a $6000 motorcycle afford a pair of jeans and a protective jacket of some kind, at the very least. At least he had a helmet and boots.

And this, from the article you linked, eekacat, shocked me:

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, in 1975, 47 states required all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, but now only 20 do.
posted by mdonley 16 August | 13:53
This was my biggest complaint about SUVs -- I couldn't see the motorcyclists.
posted by Ardiril 16 August | 13:54
The other day I looked in my right side mirror to switch lanes, saw nothing, looked again, Motorcycle! I swear there was nothing there a split second earlier. I am very aware of motorcycles, and bicycles, it freaked me out that even I missed it on the first look.
posted by Claudia_SF 16 August | 14:09
The Times article also misses the dawn of the ubiquity of drivers blathering on cellphones, which was arguably 1996-7 or so, and would seem to coincide with the uptick in fatality rates.

Wearing jeans on a moto is worthless for protection. At 55 mph, denim on pavement abrades through in 5 feet. There are special kevlar-lined jeans which are supposed to be better, but leather remains the standard.
posted by Triode 16 August | 14:20
I've been seeing a lot more bikes in seriously inappropriate weather as of late- hardcore rain when I'm nervous even in a car and stuff. That and a lot of not-great bikers who are taking dumb risks- driving on shoulders to get around traffic and stuff. Makes me think a lot of inexperienced people have switched to bikes.
posted by kellydamnit 16 August | 14:49
The highway safety authorities say that about 75 percent more motorcycles are registered today than 10 years ago. They suspect each motorcycle is ridden more miles, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it does not have a reliable measurement of use.

Can't they ask, oh, I don't know, the motorcycle tire vendors? You could get a rough guesstimate of miles ridden that way.

One of the few times in my life I was on a motorcycle was when I was about six, and one of our neighbors, a cop, was taking kids around the neighborhood on his (personal) bike. Scared the daylights out of me.

There are a handful of scooters in town now, and they definitely observe traffic laws rather randomly.
posted by stilicho 16 August | 18:22
My sister was on the back of her boyfriend's motorcycle six years ago next month, stopped in the lane waiting to turn left when a car came up from behind and plowed over them. The driver of the car didn't even touch her brakes until after the collision. My sister died on scene. Her boyfriend was in a coma for about a day, and when he came out of it he didn't remember anything from the day of the accident. Neither of them were wearing helmets.

My father, two years later, was riding his motorcycle home when a taxi turned left and hit him. He's had safety courses and has been licensed and experienced with driving bikes for longer than I've been alive. He shattered his leg and was in the hospital for a while; he now walks with a slight limp, but he's still riding his bike.
posted by rhapsodie 16 August | 19:54
I don't know if the bicycle/motorcycle comparison really holds up, though. Motorcycles are scores more dangerous. Inexperienced bicyclists ain't even going to scratch 20 MPH the vast majority of the time. Maybe not totally the same thing (but pretty close) check out some pedestrian vs. car fatality studies: The difference between 20 and 30 MPH is nearly 8 x greater chance of fatality. Then it doubles again between 30 MPH and 40 MPH. ( Being a stupid bicyclist has got to be scads safer than being a mediocre motorcyclist. And you've got to be really dumb plus very, very unlucky to manage to hurt anybody else while traveling under your own muscle power.
posted by Skwirl 17 August | 00:10
I wish they'd include info on major injuries. I would like to know the rates of people now paraplegic or something else equally horrible, and the rates of helmets vs. no helmets.

I've always had this idea that no helmets= instant death, and helmets = lifetime of misery. Does anyone know what the real stats are? Do they track them?
posted by small_ruminant 17 August | 11:30
The other day I looked in my right side mirror to switch lanes, saw nothing, looked again, Motorcycle! I swear there was nothing there a split second earlier.

Make sure you also turn and look over your shoulder.

There hasn't been a major motorcycling safety study performed in the US since the Hurt Report, back in the 70s. And that was limited to California. Please let your legislators know if you think it is time for new research. I will personally hug you if you do.
posted by Eideteker 18 August | 10:34
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