Are wrecks inevitable?
from another forum
While it may not quite be INEVITABLE, it is HIGHLY PROBABLE that any rider will experience some sort of accident the longer they ride. Ironically, a rider is at greatest risk of having an accident when they first begin riding due to inexperience. Conversely, as you gain experience you continually add to your time exposed to risk, meaning that while you have more experience to use to avoid accidents you are increasing number of opportunities for an accident to occur.
The only certain way to guard against having a motorcycle accident is to not ride. Period. If you choose to ride, you must realize that there is always the risk of an accident, be it big or small, serious or minor, your fault or not.
There. Now, that said, you do a lot to avoid accidents. Here are the main things that come to mind:
1) Training: Take ALL that you can find and then take some more. Start with the MSF courses, take them all and then find more courses to take, anything from track classes to dirt classes to advanced street riding classes to wheelie classes. Any serious, guided, organized, safety minded instruction only adds to your experience and skill set and does so in a controlled environment that allows you to be relatively safe while learning, unlike the street where, if you find that you need to do something that you've never done before, you won't get but one chance to get it right without real consequences.
2) Training: See # 1.
3) Follow at a great distance: Leave as much following distance as you can stand when riding behind other vehicles. The more space you leave, the more time you have to react to any issues coming from the vehicles ahead. If you're on their bumper and they drive into an accident, you'll be in the same accident, whereas if you're 12 seconds back, when they drive into an accident you'll calmly pull over to a safe area, call 911 and lend a hand to those in the accident. Riding with greater following distances also allows you to get a good look at the road surface and provides you with plenty of time to avoid those giant potholes or spilled fluids that would otherwise end your ride.
3a) Ride in space: When riding in traffic, create the largest cushion of space possible between you and all other vehicles. Doing so will make it easier for them to see you and give you more time to react to anything unexpected that they might do.
4) Do NOT ride IMPAIRED: If you drink, do drugs, are taking medication, sleep deprived or doing ANYTHING that may affect your mind or body, just don't ride. Riding safely requires that your mind and body both be sharp and healthy. Anything that negatively affects your perception, judgment, reaction time, ability to think, etc. should tell you to stay off the bike until youre clean and clear. Riding impaired is a GREAT way to find an accident.
5) Avoid riding in the rain: Motorcycles enjoy many advantages over other vehicles including acceleration, maneuverability and vision. In the rain, many of those same advantages become liabilities due to lose of traction and our lack of windshield wipers and protection from the elements. Acceleration and maneuverability are instantly reduced greatly due to lack of traction and our vision is immediately compromised by the rain and fogging on our helmets/windscreens/glasses. In addition, we become much less visible to the other vehicles on the road.
6) Avoid riding at night: Why? One word: Deer. Or whatever critters you have that are local to the area and much more active at night. Animals are the one thing that we really have no good strategy to defend against. They can appear anywhere at anytime and once spotted you cannot reliably predict their movements/behavior. While animals can certainly be encountered even during the height of the daylight hours, between from dusk until dawn there is far more danger posed by the activities of our wilderness friends.
6a) If you get caught riding at night, choose the largest/most heavily travelled roads you can. Those lesser travelled great two lane roads with the twisties that cut through scenic undeveloped lands are MUCH more likely to animals that are out and about after dark. The larger roads with their noisy traffic, lights and fencing have a much lower probability for an animal encounter.
7) Ride slower. Riding motorcycles fast is easy...and dangerous. The faster you go, the less time you have to react to anything in front of you, including cross traffic, unexpected lane changers, red light runners, stop sign runners, arrogant pedestrians, driveway demons, left turners, double parkers, sudden brakers, crossing deer, decreasing radius corners, sand on your line, etc. It sucks, but the faster you go, the less time you have to be safe. As a new rider, it's PARTICULARLY important to keep the speeds down as new riders generally do not have the experience needed to make informed judgments "speed flexibility".
8) Maintain your ride: If doesn't work right/isn't reliable, then it's an accident waiting to happen. It's tough enough to ride safe with a bike in perfect condition, last thing ya need is to give yourself a handicap by riding a questionable machine. Do it yourself or pay to have it done right, but don't ride a sub-standard machine.
9) ATGATT (All The Gear All The Time): Gear up. IF something happens, there is no question that you want to be over-dressed rather than under-dressed. Less than 5% of motorcycle accidents are fatal but over 85% involve injury. If you're not dressed for it, you'll be in that painful 85%. The closer you are to ATGATT, the better your chances are of being in the 15% that walk away with nothing more than a story to share at the next rally or bike night or on your favorite internet forum.
10) Ride for yourself: Ride b/c you love it. Period. Any other reason is missing the point and distracting while riding. Do not ride to impress anyone. EVER. That includes girls. Yes, even the hot girls! It also includes parents, friends, siblings, co-workers, etc. The second you ride to impress, you run the risk of worrying more about how what you're doing looks to others and less about if what you're doing is smart or safe. Do not ride for gas mileage or the low up front cost of bikes. For most folks, in the long run, cars are cheaper and provide greater utility and are safer. The ONLY reason to ride is because you simply love it. Period.
For some interesting info regarding motorcycle accident stats, check this out: Motorcycle Accident Statistics - webBikeWorld
Here are conclusions from the report:
Helmet use among fatally injured motorcyclists below 50 percent
More motorcyclist fatalities are occurring on rural roads
High blood alcohol levels are a major problem among motorcycle operators
Half of the fatalities are related to negotiating a curve prior to the crash
Over 80 percent of the fatalities occur off roadway
Undivided roadways account for a majority of the fatalities
Almost two thirds of the fatalities were associated with speeding as an operator contributing factor in the crash
Almost 60 percent of motorcyclist fatalities occur at night
Collision with a fixed object is a significant factor in over half of the fatalities
Braking and steering maneuvers possibly contribute for almost 25 percent of the fatalities
More riders age 40 and over are getting killed
Almost one third of the fatally injured operators did not have a proper license
Based on the above conclusions, look at what you can EASILY do to lower your odds of being in a fatal accident:
1) Wear a helmet.
2) Don't drink and ride.
3) Treat corners with respect. Better to go in too slow than too fast.
4) Keep speed down.
5) Don't ride at night.
6) Get a license.
Again, the only way to ensure against a motorcycle accident is to simply not ride but if you do ride, there is a LOT you can do to stack the odds in your favor, both in terms of avoiding accidents and surviving them well if they do occur.
Best of luck!