When I tell people I ride a motorcycle, they’re either really excited (because they ride too), or horrified that I would take such careless risks with my life. Just how dangerous is motorcycle riding, though? Before I bought my first bike I did some research and came to the conclusion: not very.
Let’s look at the data.
In 2006, there were 35 motorcycle deaths per 100 million miles of distance traveled by motorcyclist. That means that, on average, for me to die riding a motorcycle, I’d have to ride 2.8 million miles, assuming I’m an average rider. Last year I rode somewhere around 1000 miles, giving me a .035% chance of death.
That’s a lot of riding, and not a lot of death.
But what about accidents? A non fatal accident is 30 times more likely to occur than a fatal accident. So every year I have a little worse than a 1% chance of getting into an accident. Again, that’s extremely small. The range of accidents is very minor to very severe, so even that whole percent isn’t really a big deal. Maybe .7% are accidents that would still be affecting me a month later.
Of motorcycle deaths in 2006, 28% of the riders were over the legal limit for alcohol. Twenty eight percent! That is HUGE. One third of them didn’t have valid motorcycle licenses. A full forty two percent of all riders don’t wear helmets. What does that all mean? The TYPE of person a motorcycle appeals to TENDS to be a risk taker.
Now, I take my fair share of risks, but this is a whole different magnitude. We’re talking about people who ride motorcycles with no helmet, are drinking alcohol, and/or don’t even have a motorcycle license. That’s insane.