Musings on getting a motorcycle
So I rode my friend's Vespa today. And I have to say, it was freaking fun. It reinvigorated my latent desire to get a motorcycle. But I want to know, is it really as unsafe as people say?! So I started doing research. Here's what I found. I'll start with my conclusion and you can read some reasoning and data below.
Conclusion: It's definitely more dangerous than driving mostly due to less protection in accidents and lowered visibility to other drivers. However, the base rates for both are still quite low. If you don't drink and drive, always wear a helmet, and drive an average amount, your risk of fatality is around 0.01% per year compared to 0.004% for a car.
- Per mile driven, motorcycles are 35 times more fatal than cars. But this ignores the idea of base rates, and the fact that people drive motorcycles a lot fewer miles than cars.
- A better comparison is: per year there's a 0.072% risk of fatality for owning a motorcycle compared to a 0.013% risk of fatality for owning a car. That sounds a lot less scary.
- And you can cut down on that risk substantially. Almost half of those accidents involve alcohol, compared to 30% of automobile fatalities.
- 45% of accidents result in more than minor injury.
- HELMETS ARE REALLY GOOD AT PREVENTING INJURY. NO SERIOUSLY, WEAR A HELMET.
From the NHTSA
- "80 percent of reported motor- cycle crashes result in injury or death; a comparable figure for automobiles is about 20 percent."
From the DOT again:
So here you can see some interesting things. First, people drive far fewer miles on motorcycles than are cars. Not that surprising. So if we want to evaluate your yearly risk we should look at the involvement rate per 100,000 registered vehicles. It's about 4.3 times higher for motorcycles than cars. Fo all traffic fatalities, 35.5% of deaths involve some alcohol and 86% of those are over 0.08 BAC.
In 65% of car driver fatalities people are wearing their seat belts, but only 44% of passengers fatalities. Huh, interesting.
Also, this NHSTA report is pretty good:
- Speeding accounts for an unrepresentatively high percent of motorcycle fatalities: 35% compared to 22% for cars.