Pacific Coast Hwy, CA 2020

Motorcycle Safety Gear & Training

Safety gear, as in what you wear when you ride, and rider training are huge safety issues. We’ll explore both and see where it goes.

I was a Paramedic for my career, and now I’m a Safety Director for a construction company. As you might expect, I’m kind of a safety freak. However, I’m also an adrenaline junkie, (Skydiving, Bungee Jumping, Roller Coasters) it’s a twisted confusing life journey. When I do things that others consider, “Risky” as in riding motorcyles, I understand the safety gear and I’m properly trained. You can’t elminate risk, but you can mitigate it with proper preparation.

So having said all that, I’m going to present information from some of the motorcycling greats, their opinions and research, with credit. You’ll be able to tell when I’m giving my own ideas and when I’m quoting them. I don’t pretend to know as much as say, David Hough or Keith Code.

Rider Training

Who taught you how to ride ?

The older you are the more likely it is that you were either, A) Self-taught or B) Taught by a friend. Since more and more states are requiring formal training in order to obtain a motorcycle endorsement on your drivers license, younger riders and new riders are more likely to be really trained.

There are some who claim that rider training does not improve accident & injury rates, that’s ridiculous. I think it’s common sense. As a safety professional, I find training in every task to be fundamental in reducing accidents & injuries.

The Hurt Report

The US Hurt Report, begun in 1976 and published in 1981, expresses disdain for the ignorance and misinformation about motorcycle safety among riders studied, noting that 92% of riders in accidents had no formal training, compared to 84.3% of the riding population, and that when interviewed, riders frequently failed to take responsibility for their errors, or even perceive that accident avoidance had been possible.

Hurt noted they held such misconceptions as the belief that deliberately falling down and sliding was a more effective accident avoidance strategy than strong, controlled application of the front brake. The final recommendations of the report include the advice that, “The Motorcycle Rider Course of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation should be the prerequisite (or at least corequisite) of licensing and use of a motorcycle in traffic.”

Professor Hurt, with a team of investigators (all of whom were motorcyclists themselves)[3] examined motorcycle accident scenes in the City of Los Angeles, day and night, during the twenty-four-month period of 1976–77. They did on-scene investigations of over 900 accidents and studied 3,600 police reports from the area of each accident. Investigators later returned to 505 crash scenes at the same time of day, same day of the week and with the same environmental conditions to measure traffic volumes, photograph passing motorcycles and interview 2,310 riders who stopped to talk with investigators. This allowed the research team to compare accident-involved riders to riders in the same location who were not involved in a crash.[3]

The study took place throughout the City of Los Angeles including urban as well as rural conditions, e.g., incidents of motorcycles striking animals. Source Wikipedia

Learning to Ride

You want to learn to ride? That’s fantastic and there are people in every state that want to help you learn skills and techniques to get you started off the the right (safest) foot. In all states except Oregon (my home), Idaho & California courses are offered by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). The three outsider states believe they have improved upon the MSF courses in one way or another but all are good places to learn. I was self & friend taught in the early 1970’s and then when I returned to riding in 2014, I took every course, “Team Oregon” offered and I learned a lot.

Experienced Riders

Lots of people who have ridden anywhere from 100 miles to a million miles are good riders. Many also are not that good but have been lucky, number of miles or number of years ridden do not guarantee that you are in fact a proficient motorcyclist. And even if you’re really good, we all need to work on our skills and learn new ones continuously. That’s where intermediate, advanced and various skills workshops offed in all states come in. I can guarantee that no matter how long you have ridden, that you will learn something by taking a course.