Motorcycles are Safer than Cars

Everyone knows that in a crash motorcycle riders usually come off worse than car drivers. Riders avoid some problems, like being trapped in a burning or sinking car, but in general an accident that dents a car can put a motorcyclist in hospital. However motorcycle fear is often based on rumor or reports, not actual experience. It is guilt by association.

A motorcycle is safer than a car if it is less likely to have an accident in the first place

But safety also depends on how likely you are to have an accident in the first place. I find motorcycles safer because one can better avoid accidents on them. In a car, I feel safe because I have protection, but on a motorcycle I feel safer because I have more options. A motorcycle is safer than a car if it is less likely to have an accident in the first place. That the careless can kill themselves more easily on a motorcycle is not denied. However what about competent riders? Competent riders are less likely to have accidents because they:

  1. See more
  2. Evade better
  3. Attend more
  4. Assume less

See more

A rider’s field of vision is further and wider than a car’s

A rider is usually higher than a car driver, and so has a better view. A better view means you see danger earlier, and can avoid it better. Riders have no car body around them to create vision blind sports. Just turning their head gives a clear all round view. A bike can also move left or right in the lane for a better view, if a truck blocks your vision. A car driver in contrast must remain on the steering wheel side. A motorcycle rider’s field of vision is further and wider than that of a car. When I drive a car, I feel I have a much more constricted field of view.

The ability to see more lets you avoid more. If a person in a car three cars ahead stops suddenly, as a rider, I see it earlier, and have more time to make adjustments, to avoid a crash. If seeing danger first means avoiding it better, a motorcycle is safer.

Evade better

A motor-cycle has evasion options not available to a car

A motorcycle is smaller than a car, and so less of a target to be hit. Being smaller, it also has more places to go safely. If the car ahead stops suddenly, the car behind must hit it. Highway pile-ups occur because cars in a lane have nowhere to go in sudden stop. However a bike can swerve to the side, or fit between two cars on a many lane highway. It can pull onto the safety shoulder if necessary. A motor-cycle has evasion options not available to a car. It can accelerate better out of a trouble situation. In nearly every situation, a motorcycle has more evasive choices, because it is smaller and more mobile. In terms of accident evasion, bikes are safer.

Attend more

When the body is right there, the brain tends to be right there with it

There is something about traveling at high speed a few feet above hard ground that gets your attention. When the body is right there, the brain tends to be right there with it. By comparison, a driver is separated from the world by the car body, air-conditioning and comfort. Drivers are distracted from the road by:

  • Coffee and food
  • Talking on cell-phones
  • Listening to the radio
  • Talking to passengers
  • Adjusting seats or windows
  • Disciplining children
  • Adjusting make-up
  • Shaving
Inattention is the main cause of road accidents

Perhaps shaving is uncommon, but the others happen all the time. Studies show that inattention is the main cause of road accidents. You only have so much attention. Attending to one thing degrades your attention to another. Distractions reduce your attention to the road, which leads to accidents. Cars have many distractions, but on a motorcycle, it is just you and the road. Motorcycles are safer because they increase attention and reduce distractions.

Assume less

Life insurance should be called what it really is - death insurance

People driving large vehicles with life insurance think they are “safe”. Life insurance should be called what it really is - death insurance. Then people would understand it better. Money cant replace life. You don't really have insurance (in the sense of replacing what you had).

Car safety features cannot avoid the "nut behind the wheel" problem. Safer cars are no use if people are more careless. If drivers with anti-skid brakes just drive faster in the rain, what is the safety benefit? The accident rate depends as much on attitude as on mechanical safety features. Motorcycles create a better attitude, because on a motorcycle, you know you are vulnerable. No matter how big the motorcycle, what happens is likely to happen to you, personally. Motorcycle riders assume less, which makes a motorcycle safer than a car.

The Anti-SUV mentality

There are two approaches to avoiding accidents:

  • The SUV mentality: Have accidents, but avoid the results.
  • The Anti-SUV mentality: Avoid accidents entirely
For every big vehicle, there is a bigger one

America’s current approach is the first - buy cars so big you are unhurt in a crash. But for every big vehicle, there is a bigger one. If your Mercedes meets a truck/trailer combine, you will be crushed whatever your safety rating. Metal is not a cure for carelessness. While SUVs seem safe, studies show they tip easily, maneuver poorly, waste petrol, hog the road, make bigger targets, and overfill parking spaces.

If we all drove in tanks, would the roads be safer?

Whatever the metal around you, a bigger vehicle can always penetrate it. The SUV mentality tries to put a metal barrier between you and the world, so others (not you) pay the price of accidents. The result is a vehicle arms race, where everyone drives bigger cars. That big vehicles also cause more damage is ignored. If we all drove around in main battle tanks, would the roads be safer? SUV drivers would insulate themselves from the world, but that is not a good way to go.

The goal is to avoid accidents, not to “safely” have them

Motorcycle riders follow the Anti-SUV mentality, which is to avoid accidents entirely. The “strength” of a motorcycle is its flexibility, not its invulnerability. The goal is to avoid accidents, not to “safely” have them. I prefer the attentive but unprotected motorcycle rider any day over a careless SUV driver. The anti-SUV mentality is not only about saving petrol, it is also an attitude to life, a willingness to be responsible for your own acts.

Conclusion

Riding a motorcycle is safer than driving a car because riders see more, evade better, are more attentive, and assume less. The rider has higher stakes, but if they ride safely, are less likely to have an accident in the first place.