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Motorcyclists at Higher Risk of Injury During First Few Months of Driving

It is no secret that motorcycles can be dangerous. About 5,000 people die annually in the U.S. from motorcycle accidents. However, a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute finds that the first year, and particularly the first month, is the most dangerous for new motorcycle drivers.

The study discovered that motorcyclists are four times more likely to get into an accident in their first month than in the entire second year of driving. Twenty-two percent of the 57,000 collisions analyzed by the study occurred during the first 30 days of drivers’ insurance policy coverage. Accident rates dropped substantially in the second month and by more than half after six months.

A common reason for higher early accident rates is inexperience. Motorcycles are generally more difficult to operate than other types of vehicles and require handling as many as six tasks during difficult maneuvers. Fortunately, there are a number of training courses available to help riders gain experience and reduce their risk of accidents. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, for example, offers a basic driving course with training in turning, braking, safety awareness, and how to handle emergency situations. Nearly half of U.S. motorcyclists have completed the course.

Even after obtaining required licenses and completing training courses, motorcyclists are advised to engage in safe practices on the bike:

  • Practice the habits taught in training courses
  • Always wear a helmet
  • Maintain the bike in a safe riding condition
  • Wear bright colors, use headlights and install reflecting panels so other drivers will notice you

Controlling a motorcycle is more demanding than a car – requiring sharp reflexes and split-second reaction times. Drivers should be fully alert and unimpaired; that means avoiding drinking alcohol before operating a motorcycle and avoiding certain medications that may dull the senses too much to ride safely. Fatigue may also be a good reason to save the ride for later.

Maximizing visibility and practicing safe habits can help prevent accidents. Unfortunately, accidents still happen. If you are injured in an accident, consult with a knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer as you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.