The myths and misconceptions that surround motorcycle safety can result in behaviors and avoidable hazards that cause serious accidents and deadly injuries. To help reduce the risk for motorcycle crashes and the seriousness of possible injuries, it is vital that new riders, veteran bikers, and motorists alike understand the facts. Here are some of the most common safety misconceptions surrounding motorcycles and the truths that can help save lives.
Myth #1- Lane Splitting is Safe
Although the practice of riding in between two lanes of congested traffic is legal in some states, it is against the law in Illinois, and it is also extremely dangerous. Commonly referred to as “lane splitting”, this behavior significantly increases the risk for riders to be struck by unsuspecting motorists and is associated with other riding hazards. A recent U.C. Berkley study revealed that in a state where lane splitting was legal, the behavior was a factor in approximately 17 percent of motorcycle crashes.
Myth #2- Motorcycle Helmets Are Dangerous
Many novice riders and seasoned bikers alike firmly believe that wearing a motorcycle helmet increases the risk for accidents and injuries. It’s a common misconception that helmets can interfere with a riders vision and hearing, and that they don’t offer much protection from serious injury or death in a crash anyway. In fact, according to saferoads.org, helmets reduce the risk for serious head injury by an impressive 69 percent, and their use reduces death risk by 42 percent. Additionally, experts report that if a helmet is interfering with a rider’s vision or hearing, it is likely poorly designed or improperly fitted.
Myth #3- Bigger is Better
In reality, there are pros and cons to all sizes of motorcycles. Although a larger, more powerful bike gives some riders a sense of security and stability, and larger motorcycles are often easier for other motorists to see, smaller ones sometimes offer more precision and are easier for some people to control. Since motorcyclists tastes and abilities vary significantly, it is recommended that individuals try out various sizes and styles of motorcycles to determine the best fit.
Myth #4- Highways are More Dangerous than City Streets
Although slower-speed accidents often result in fewer, less significant injuries than those that occur at high rates of speed, the number of motorcycles that are involved in crashes is highest among areas with intersections and stop-and-go traffic.