Should You Take a Motorcycle Safety Course?
Motorcycle safety courses are available in every state, and they are often required before you can get your motorcycle license. Every motorcycle accident potentially involves the biker’s entire body – there is no cage of glass and metal surrounding the driver as there is with a car. Additionally, operating a motorcycle requires more body awareness and skill than driving a car, particularly at high speeds or on winding roads.
Why take a motorcycle safety course?
There are certain risks that are unique to motorcycle riders. Every part of the rider’s body is exposed, and unless it’s covered by heavy safety gear, quite vulnerable. Additionally, motorcycles are smaller than cars and therefore harder to see, posing a risk for riders in heavy traffic or with distracted drivers. The level of skill required to ride a motorcycle at high speeds is different than the skill required to drive a car fast; forces of gravity and inertia affect a biker’s body far more than a driver’s.
According to Business Insider, motorcycle fatalities have hit an all-time high every year for the last ten years. 2012 saw a nearly 10% increase in fatalities from 2011. This is likely related to the rise in volume of riders on the road – more bikers means more accidents. This increase in numbers can be attributed to several factors. First, warmer temperatures earlier in the year have led to longer riding seasons in recent years. Rising gasoline prices also encourage more frequent use, as motorcycles tend to be more fuel-efficient for day-to-day travel. Finally, the economy is improving, so more folks have disposable income to spend on a for-fun vehicle like a motorcycle. Many states are showing an increase in motorcycle registration, and a corresponding increase in motorcycle accidents, injuries, and fatalities.
Educated drivers and riders make for safer drivers and riders. A motorcycle safety course ensures that a biker is as knowledgeable as possible about the varying hazards he may face on the road. There are also tangible benefits to taking a safety course. Some states require it to obtain your motorcycle license. Some states will consider whether a biker has completed such a course when assessing fault in an accident. And in some cases, it may affect your motorcycle insurance rates.
Find the Right Motorcycle Safety Course
Just like people don’t learn to drive cars by playing Gran Tourismo, they don’t learn to drive motorcycles by watching motocross. Motorcycle driver’s education isn’t part of high school curriculum, so it’s up to independent companies to deliver the classes that bikers need to safe on the road. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation operates courses in all fifty states for all levels of rider, and they even include an interactive game on their website, so anyone can see what it’s like to face the challenges unique to riding a motorcycle.
Once you’ve obtained your motorcycle license, it’s a good idea to keep up with your education. The more confident you are in your skills, the more opportunities you have to do longer, more challenging rides. Many motorcycle safety schools offer courses for experienced bikers as well as beginners, so even if you’ve been riding for four decades, you can still keep your skills sharp.
Motorcycle Road Safety: Whose Job Is It?
More than half of motorcycle accidents are between a motorcycle and a four-wheeled vehicle. There are several reasons for this, but it highlights the importance of mutual awareness on the road. Motorcycles are smaller than cars and often move through traffic in ways drivers do not anticipate. For example, lane-splitting – the act of driving a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic – is not explicitly illegal in some states, but most drivers don’t expect a vehicle between two lanes of traffic.
Opponents of mandatory helmet laws advocate strongly for increased education and awareness on the road. While a good, solid helmet is probably not easily replaced by knowledge, the more educated you can be, the better (and safer) you’ll be on your bike.