Motorcycle safety is the complete responsibility
of the rider. Unlike cars
, motorcycles in general do not have things like airbags
, ABS brakes
, or all weather traction control
. All of these "safety features" were
primarily designed to help save people that were not paying attention while driving.
Motorcycles are highly unstable (when was the last
time you saw a parked car just fall over?) and quite heavy.
Most motorcycles weigh in around 400 pounds or
more. This instability and weight takes some skill to
overcome and a lot of experience to master, unlike an automobile which is about as easy to operate as a faucet.
This is why you never hear about 4 year old boys driving
their dad's Harley down to the supermarket at 1am to get
Cheerios that they really wanted (yes, that actually
happened, just with a car...)
Given the lack of safety features on motorcycles and
the higher degree of skill needed to operate, the rider is responsible
for their own safety. The first step of this safety is to
take a motorcycle safety course. These 3 day courses can
be taken almost every weekend almost anywhere in the USA (not sure about other countries). In the 3 days of class
you will probably learn more than you would in 2 years of
riding on your own. The things they teach you are primarily
safety issues (how to handle quick stops, swirving, and
various traffic situations). Even if you have been riding
"for years", I would still highly recommend taking one of
these courses. Chances are you would still learn something.
Other safety concerns include clothing, or armor as I like to refer to it. On a motorcyle, there is nothing
between you and the pavement.
No matter where you live you have
probably seen some guy flying down the highway on his crotch-rocket wearing a helmet, a t-shirt and shorts
as protection. These people are called squids. This is
due to their appearance after they have gotten in an accident and have left a 1/4 mile trail of their epidermis on the highway. You do not want to be a squid.
When you are riding a motorcycle you want adequate
protection. Ideally, this would be a full faced helmet,
leather gloves, nice boots with no laces that cover the
ankle, and a full leather suit that has a snug fit.
The other issue with
clothing/protection is its color. Many people like to
have black leather suits with black helmets. Sure, this
looks cool and makes you look like a Hell's Angel or Street Hawk (depending on your self image), but it makes
you much less visible to other cage drivers.
I would recommend a suit and helmet that have brighter
colors. If you are stuck on the idea of having black
armor, at least get some reflective tape and put it down
your back, arms, and legs. I will also tell you that it
sucks ass to be wearing a solid black full leather suit
on a sunny summer day, but its still better than a t-shirt.
Choose your colors wisely.
Motorcycle safety comes down to thing, responsibility.
If you take the classes, stay within your riding skill limits, and wear the appropriate protection, riding a
motorcycle can be as safe as a car, or safer depending
on your skill level.