Are you born to be wild? Does the winding, twisting asphalt call your name? Are you anxious to get to your mid-life crisis so you can finally have an excuse to buy that motorcycle you’ve always wanted? I’ve got good news for you. There is no need to wait for a crisis, mid-life or otherwise, before you get your hands on the ride of your dreams. You can buy one right now and feel good about it. Every time you choose to ride a motorcycle instead of an SUV, you conserve resources and reduce traffic congestion. Not to mention, they are a heck of a lot of fun to ride.
Ever notice how we drive cars, but ride motorcycles?
Before you head off to your nearest crotch-rocket dealer, there are a few things you need to know. First you have to make sure you get properly licensed to ride. All states have their own requirements for motorcycle licensing. You might want to start you journey by checking out DMV.org. There, you will find the specific licensing information for the state where you live. There are often two levels of licensing that distinguish between powered bicycles and full on motorcycles. Scooters are a grey area that could go either way. Check your state ordinances for clarification.
You also need to know your risks. SeriousAccidents.com states that there are over 4,000 fatal, motorcycle related, accidents annually. If you are not concerned about risk, or if “risk” is your middle name, then you are a fool, and your should change you name. Those young enough to treat life so cavalierly are the ones most likely to have an accident. See for yourself:
• The highest death and injury rates were among 20-24 year-olds, followed by 25-29 year-olds.
• More than half of all nonfatal injuries treated in EDs were to the leg/foot (30%) or head/neck (22%).
• Motorcyclist death rates increased 55% from 2001 to 2008 (1.12 per 100,000 persons in 2001 to 1.74 per 100,000 persons in 2008).
• The number of nonfatal motorcyclist injuries that were treated in EDs also increased, from nearly 120,000 injuries in 2001 to about 175,000 in 2008.
You might even find that some states are home to more motorcycle accidents than others. A little research into the matter might just give you a better idea of what your in for in your particular area. Being aware of the pitfalls up ahead goes a long ways towards helping you to avoid them.
With the risks in mind, naturally, you are going to want some insurance with that helmet. In fact, whether you want it or not, you are going to have to have it before you hit the ground running. You will need to check with your insurance company to see if they provide motorcycle insurance. They will also be aware of the current regulations regarding what type of insurance you need. If the added cost of motorcycle insurance is a problem for you, perhaps you should consider taking up bicycling.
Part of the insurance conversation should be about finding a good accident attorney. In the event of a accident, you don’t want to have to start frantically paging through the phone book for the first attorney who took out a full-page ad. Even if the accident is not your fault, there is something of a bias against motorcyclists in American society. The assumption is that the cyclist was doing something wrong. If the cyclist wasn’t already a convention-defying rebel, he would have been driving an SUV like the person who hit him. There are many attorneys who specialize in motorcycle related issues. Make sure you get to know one before you happen to need one.
Finally, one of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents can be avoided altogether just by making yourself more visible. Car drivers hit motorcycle drivers most often because they just didn’t see them. Consider bright, perhaps even garish colors when choosing your ride and accessories. Use hand gestures when you can. Even if the driver does not know the gesture, it might be enough to catch his eye. Just making yourself visible is often enough to ensure you safely get from point A to point B.
But who are we kidding. Riding is not about getting from point A to point B. That’s what the SUV is for. Riding is its own reward. Just make sure the journey is always rewarding. And for the times when it is not, make sure you are properly prepared.