Motorcycle Accidents

This is a picture of a motorcycle on a road

“[The Motorcycle is] a form of entertainment that can appeal only, one would think, to the most enthusiastic of mechanical eccentrics. . . . We think it doubtful whether the motorcycle will, when the novelty has worn off, take a firm hold of public favour.”

-Engineering, (Magazine 1901, qtd. in Encyclopedia.com)

Motorcycles are fun; they differ in so many respects from the typical car. First of all, when riding, you feel a profound sense of freedom. You are not in a tight, metal, tin enclosure. Instead, you are out in the open. You are able to experience all of the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings right in front of you. There seems to be nothing holding you back. For this reason, thousands of people take up motorcycling as a form of vacation. You can find vacation groups of riders who traverse the United States, visit Civil War sites, ride the Pacific Coast Highway, and hundreds more.

A Short History

The motorcycle grew out of the bicycle. In the late nineteenth century, engineers began to place combustion engines on bikes to propel them faster. Over the ensuing decades, inventors advanced this technology. The first modern conception was created by a Swedish immigrant in 1901. As more and more began to be produced, many people started to see new uses for these machines. During World War I, both sides used motorcycles to deliver essential communications to frontline troops, replacing horses.

This article began with a quote from Engineering, a magazine that was postulating on the seeming fad of motorcycle use. Boy, were they wrong! Their use has only increased in popularity. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety documents the increase of motorcycles registration in the United States by state. For example, in Utah, in 2002, 34,852 motorcycles were registered in the state. Fast forward to 2017, that number is at 86,870. This number is slightly lower than the high point which was 98,894 in 2012.

Motorcycle Classification

As motorcycles have developed, different classifications have arisen. For example, there are ten different types of motorcycle classifications. For instance,

Chopper. A Chopper has a longer wheelbase with an extended front fork configuration. A chopper is usually customized and a little more expensive. The moniker comes from the “chopping” of the standard parts in an effort to remove some of the bulk and make it faster.

Standard. The Standard is your more basic type. There are not many innovations for the chassis and engine design. The riding position is more upright, and the footpegs are a little farther back on the vehicle.

Cruiser. The Cruiser is made to look more like the older models from the 30s to the 60s, especially those made by Harley-Davidson and Indian. The design places the feet forward and the seat and hands roughly at about shoulder height. Cruisers are usually a little more challenging to turn because of their design. These are some of the most massive types. When you see a motorcycle with a sidecar, it is probably a Cruiser.

Touring. A Touring is usually built with a higher displacement and torque engine to enable the motorcycle to carry passengers and luggage. These types of motorcycles are generally longer and heavier than others. Some weigh more than 900 pounds. These types offer their riders larger fuel tanks, wind protection, and a seated position which is more comfortable for long distances. These are meant to tour.

Sport Touring. This is a combination of a sportier motorcycle while incorporating the touring features. For example, these will have things like saddlebags, larger seats and other features that are not standard with sport.

Sport. A sport is lighter and more powerful than others. They have a higher power-to-weight ratio than other motorcycles. The body has to lean forward while riding the vehicle. This position can make riding easier while going fast and going around corners.

Supersport. A supersport type is typically used for racing. The engine is meant to meet the specific requirements to be able to perform this activity.

You might be wondering, are some of these motorcycle types safer than others? According to the Motorcycle Legal Foundation, each motorcycle has a different fit for the kind of riding style. A motorcycle can be dangerous if you do not purchase the correct motorcycle for you. For example, if you buy the latest, most exciting motorcycle you can get your hands on, it might be beyond your skill level, especially if you are a novice. You will also need to assess your needs and usage of the motorcycle. For example, if you plan to commute within a large city, you will not be driving faster than 45 miles per hours on most days. This means that a motorcycle that can exceed 130 miles per hour is not something you need.

Saying that one motorcycle is safer than another is challenging because the rates of registration vary by type so significantly. Statistics by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that scooters, cruisers, and standard motorcycles have the lowest numbers of collisions. However, it is clear that there are some motorcycles which are more dangerous than others, statistically speaking. According to an article by the IIHS, supersport have the highest death rates and worst insurance losses among all types. Obviously, correlation does not equal causation. Purchasing a supersport motorcycle will not cause you to get into an accident. It could be the case that those who are inclined to buy supersport motorcycles are more likely to take risks while driving. Similarly, the supersport motorcycle type is more likely than others to be stolen.

Having access to all the appropriate information before purchasing your motorcycle can help you choose which one is best for you. You should also consider taking the appropriate course to obtain a motorcycle license. In Utah, to drive a motorcycle, you must receive an endorsement to your driver’s license. When you have completed the process, an M will be displayed on your license. One way to gain this endorsement is by taking a Motorcycle Safety Foundation Beginning Rider Course. There are also companies that offer classes for beginner, intermediate, and expert riders. Brushing up on how to be safe while riding is always a good thing. Knowing what constitutes safe behavior and what does not can help inform your choices while driving. Motorcycle deaths occur 28 times more frequently than other vehicles. This statistic means that you will need to be extra safe while riding a motorcycle. You will have to take extra precautions that the driver of an average car will not have to think about. In our Knowledge Base section, you will find additional articles on how you can stay safe while driving your motorcycle.

At The Advocates Law, we have helped thousands of motorcycle accident victims recover after their accident, most of which were absolutely devastating to those involved. We want to do everything we can to help you prevent an accident.

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