Yes Emily

Yes Emily, girls can ride motorcycles!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Common Sense Not Luck Saves Lives

March is the month of leprechauns and luck. It’s also the month of spring when motorcyclists start dusting off their rides in anticipation of a new season. The latest statistics have been released on motorcycle fatalities across Canada and March is a good month to look at taking the luck out of staying alive while riding.

The most recent stats published by Transport Canada show the total number of motorcycle fatalities have risen from 198 in 2004 to 218 in 2008. At first glance this doesn’t seem encouraging until you see the number of registered motorcycles actually increased by 158,000 over the same four years. This translates into an encouraging drop in the rate of fatalities. The rate (per 10,000) has in fact dropped from 4.8 in 2004 to 3.8 in 2008.

These statistics include all riders – male/female, young/old, experienced/inexperienced, blatant risk takers and calculated risk managers. We’d probably all agree that motorcyclists in general, given the nature of the sport, might be considered risk takers to some degree. But let’s take a hypothetical look at the statistics. What happens if we factor out those riders who are blatant, over the top risk takers and law breakers. Those who do things that the average rider, with common sense would never consider when riding a motorcycle.

Off the top, let’s remove the rider who drinks and rides (that’s just plain stupid!) 13% of the motorcyclists killed in 2008 had a blood alcohol level of over the legal limit which translates into 28.3 riders. Take those out of the equation and you have 189.66 fatalities. Then, let’s subtract the 38%, or 82.8 riders who died because of excessive speed (either for their skill or road conditions). We’re now down to 106.86 deaths.

Then there are those riders who, when they died, were not wearing a helmet. Since wearing a helmet doesn’t guarantee you’ll live, but has been proven to effectively increase your odds by 41% we can only take 41% of the 15% of riders who were not protecting their heads. This leaves us with a hypothetical total of  93.46 fatalities.

There were 560,000 registered motorcycles in Canada in 2008. If riders wore helmets, didn’t drink and ride and rode at speeds within their skill level the rate of deaths per 10,000 riders might have been 1.7 – a rate that is comparable to that of passenger car fatalities. (This rate might be reduced even further if we considered the over 40% of riders who at the time of their fatal collision had committed other traffic infractions or the 29% who chose to ride after dark, which isn’t illegal, but risky).

Reduce your risk of death – factor in common sense! Helmet use can be regulated but common sense can’t. The choice is up to you - Just something to think about.

Just an aside  Motorcycle size and age of riders still remains a factor, there are more older riders than ever before. Here’s a quote from a Canadian government report …“The trend toward older victims is because increasing numbers of middle aged men are riding motorcycles.” Hey guys, what do you think about that statement? Sexist? Gender biased? Aged biased? Or all of the above? Way to go Transport Canada!

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