Study: Safety risk for motorcycle riders peaks within first month of ownership

With gas prices high throughout the country, industry experts are anticipating the summer to be an active motorcycle season on the roadways, both for veterans and new riders. However, it’s these new motorcycle operators that safety officials are concerned about, as research suggests they tend to be the ones most at risk for motorcycle crashes.

According to recently released data from the Highway Loss Data Institute, The Associated Press* reports that new motorcycle riders are about four times more at risk to be involved in an accident in the first 30 days of ownership compared to the entire second year of having the bike.

Matthew Moore, vice president of the HLDI, said the heightened risk boils down to inexperience and not fully realizing how complicated a motorcycle can be.

“Operating a motorcycle is a fairly complex task,” Moore told the news source.

Motorcycle riding is not as easy as it looks

Even what may seem like straightforward actions require being able to do several things at once. For example, after coming to a stop on an embankment, the rider has to balance on one foot, brake hard enough to prevent the motorcycle from rolling backward, shift into the appropriate gear, lightly touch the throttle, release the clutch and still watch for oncoming traffic.

New rider Jeff Foley got a taste for just how difficult a motorcycle can be to handle after taking it out for his first ride. Within days of completing his motorcycle safety course, his bike fell over twice—and on both occasions, he was not even moving.

“Both times were just as I was starting to get a little bit cocky,” Foley told the AP. “I’m exceptionally fortunate that I dropped it at a standstill, not 50 or 60 miles an hour.”

Insurance claim rate drops nearly 66 percent six months after ownership

Others have not been so fortunate, as the AP notes that more than half of the motorcycle insurance claims between 2003 and 2007 occurred within 30 days of the policy going into effect, HLDI data indicates. The claim rate fell by 33 percent in the second month and close to 66 percent six months later.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s goal is to reduce operator inexperience, as in 48 states, its basic rider course has helped to train more than 6 million riders, 400,000 in 2011 alone, according to Sherry Williams, the MSF’s director of quality assurance and research. For $275, riders can learn motorcycle riding fundamentals like braking, turning, using the controls and what responses to use in an emergency.

She added that while these courses give motorcycle riders the tools they need to know to drive safety, the program also helps drivers determine whether it’s really for them or not.

*according to The Associated Press on April 15, 2012
via Peter Montanez

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