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Motorcycle crashes peak in drivers' first month on the road

As biking season gets underway, some riders may want to brush up on road safety. According to recent studies, the most dangerous time for motorcyclists is the first month on the road. Some 22 percent of motorcycle collision claims across the United States occur less than 30 days after an insurance policy begins, researchers found.

Those claim rates drop one-third in the second month and decline by two-thirds after six months. Experts attribute the numbers to inexperience. "Operating a motorcycle is a fairly complex task," said the vice president of the Highway Loss Data Institute. He noted that pulling out on a hill can require around a half-dozen simultaneous actions, including braking, balancing, shifting gears and releasing the clutch.

All of that can be a recipe for disaster, particularly for more inexperienced drivers. More than half of the 57,000 insurance claims studied were for supersport bikes - motorcycles favored by the younger generation for their high power-to-weight ratios and speeds that approach 200 mph.

Motorcycle deaths have declined since reaching a peak of approximately 5,300 in 2008. But riders shouldn't celebrate just yet. The lower fatality rate correlates with a 50 percent drop in bike sales since the start of the recession. So, as new bikers prepare for the open road, they may still want to seek out techniques that help reduce the risk of a collision.

Many car and truck drivers do not understand how to share the road with motorcycles, and may endanger bikers with poor driving behaviors. Knowing how to handle a motorcycle properly and adeptly can help riders avoid a serious crash, even at the hands of another.

Source: The Associated Press, "Motorcycle crash risk drops sharply after the first month on the road," Michael Virtanen, April 15, 2012 

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