How Dangerous Are Motorcycles?

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Motorcycles were invented in 1885. Motorcycling has become popular in many places in the world, but when automobiles were invented, they might have become more popular than motorcycles where automobiles would no longer be much more expensive.

Motorcycles have advantages over automobiles such as better fuel economy and manoeuvrability, occupation of much less space and the like. However, potential dangers of motorcycles are the biggest disadvantage. How dangerous are motorcycles? Where are the dangers from?

If motorcycles were the only vehicles on roads, they would not be too dangerous, but since roads have other larger vehicles ranging from automobiles of 1000 kg to combination vehicles of 50 000 kg, motorcycles with the masses around 100 kg are much weaker. In crashes involving motorcycles, both motorcyclists themselves and other road users may be somewhat liable, depending on exact circumstances. Serious accidents can easily kill motorcyclists.

Motorcyclists may be at fault when they are unlicensed, improperly licensed, or untrained, or act so dangerously, such as drunk driving, wearing dark clothing so they are not well visible, failing to anticipate others, and the like.

Squeezing between other traffic too fast or too closely can be dangerous if others suddenly change direction, open doors, or the like. Many state laws in the United States ban motorcycles from splitting or filtering between lanes of traffic. However, Ride To Work Incorporated in the United States considers that lane splitting by motorcycles should be defined as a congestion solution and made legal everywhere. As motorcycles are more manoeuvrable than automobiles, lane splitting by motorcyclists in a reasonable and prudent way should be legal, but drivers of automobiles should not be allowed to squeeze by motorcycles in the same lane. To be reasonable and prudent, lane splitting by motorcyclists cannot be too fast or too close to others. At least 0.5 m is desirable to be safe.

Others may be at fault if they are not well skilled or if they fail to realize existence of motorcycles. Aggressive drivers who just consider motorcycles dangerous are worse enemies of motorcyclists. They are unsafe drivers. So many dangers are from other road users. Any passengers of other vehicles who throw something out without regard to passing motorcyclists are bad people.

Motorcycles are more vulnerable to bad weather than automobiles are. Strong wind can throw motorcycles off balance. When crossing large bodies of water, tunnels protect motorcycles from strong wind, but bridges without covers can be bad for motorcycles during strong wind. Rains, thunders, snows and other bad weather may put motorcycles in disadvantage.

Many accidents involving motorcycles should be preventable. Motorcyclists should wear clothes with light colours and turn headlights and taillights on at all times to be more visible. Turning lights on at all times attracts others' attention to motorcycles. Even in daytime, motorcycles without lights on might appear to be shadows only. Motorcycles sold in the United States since 1978 have lights on when they are operated. Defensive driving is very important to survive in the traffic. Better traffic safety education is the key to make motorcycles much safer.

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