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Motorcycle Safety Is No Joke

    I love riding my motorcycle. Truth is, I can’t wait for the beginning of the spring to use it and to plan trips with other bikers. There is nothing quite like cruising up and down the coast in warm weather.

    However, I never lose sight of the fact that as a motorcyclist, I am at much greater risk of being injured on my bike than I would be driving my car. That is just a fact. The only responsible thing bikers can do to try to “lower the odds” is to exercise obsessive safety precautions at all times.

    According to the Governors’ Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in 2014, alone, 4,486 motorcyclists were killed on our nation’s roads and highways. Not surprisingly, they found that riders who did not wear protective helmets were ten times more likely to be killed than were those who did wear helmets – (1,565 versus 151). In 2013, GHSA determined that helmets saved the lives of over 1600 motorcyclists, and an additional 715 more lives could have been saved by wearing them.


    The GHSA also recommended that all states should require training for new bikers, minors, and those bikers who have not ridden in a while, and that those courses should be given by experienced, qualified instructors. They noted: “NHTSA, along with motorcycle organizations and other stakeholders, should develop a model motorcycle operator training program and quality control guidelines for instructors, deploy them at selected locations and then evaluate their effectiveness. Once the model curricula and instructor guidelines are complete, then states are encouraged to use them. States should also examine their motorcycle crash data to determine if the model training program should address specific state problems by emphasizing certain situations of skills. States should be encouraged to enhance their training to ensure that state-specific needs are met.”

    The amount of training required, unfortunately, differs from state to state. However, in New York, you must have a Class M or MJ Operator’s License or Learner’s Permit. And just like a regular car license, to get a motorcycle license, you must pass both a written exam and a road test. Of course, even if you already have your license, if you haven’t used your bike for a while, common sense dictates that you go for a refresher course, and there are many available through various motorcycle associations and groups.

    And one more thing – if you are under the influence, stay off the bike – period. There are no exceptions here. No surprise, the GHSA found that impaired motorcyclists make up a substantial proportion of total motorcycle fatalities. When you ride, you absolutely need to be alert and aware AND prepared to navigate on the spot, if need be. If you have been drinking, even a little bit, your reflexes simply are not as responsive. When you’re on a bike, one split second can mean the difference between life and death.

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