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Risk Hierarchy: Information - Rider Ed - Driver Ed - Conspicuity - Bike Defect - Ultra-Defensive Riding - Crash Avoidance - Injury Mitigation - Crash Scene
Motorcycle Crash Causation Summary
In this section, we looked at
- The Hurt report
- New crash causation study in the works
- Other studies done abroad
- Commentary from biker sources
There's also some good information in DOT's National Agenda document.
There is no consensus out there, because of the poor information situation, but we'll stick our necks out and sum it up here:
- The major issue is poor rider training, skills, and road strategies, which is the cause of most crashes, and which makes other crashes worse.
- Another cause is cages turning left in front of motorcycles, because the cage driver doesn't see the biker.
- Motorcycle conspicuity is still an issue in right-of-way infraction crashes and also rear-end crashes
- Bike mechanical failure is a minor cause of crashes, but where they exist make a crash death more likely, and is something bikers can control.
- The other major causes of crashes, things like road surface and road furniture. are minor issues and probably not controllable. A better effort on the part of road maintenance authorities to remove debris from the road might help, though.
- We think that omission of weather as a cause is under-reported due to the study methodologies, see the link for our revisionist approach.
A persistent factor that we hear from bikers is related to the conspicuity issue. This is the difficulty of other road users to gauge the speed of a motorcycle.
If you think about an oncoming truck, you have a nice, rectangular image which is getting bigger as the truck approaches. A motorcycle does not offer many visual cues to help people's vision gauge the speed. There is support for this in research, see Forensic Engineering Investigation by Randall Noon, CRC Press, 2001, ISBN 0849309115 (Google Books has an extract). We'll talk about this in the Conspicuity section. We did a little video demonstration of our own to help illustrate the problem and some fixes.
Things bikers can do to improve safety include: better training and skills practice for bikers, improved conspicuity, better protective gear, educating cage drivers to see bikers better, better pre-ride checks and keeping up with maintenance in general.
The truth of the matter is that most motorcycle crashes are no longer caused by Hurtian cages turning across bikes. The majority of crash causation is now under our control as bikers. We need to seize this opportunity and fix the problem. If we don't do it ourselves, we are going to see more regulations like compulsory protection, speed governors and restrictive regulations. And we will have asked for it.