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Motorcycle crashes: statistics, ironies, sound training strategies

Here's a central irony pointed out by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as regards motorcycle riding: Not only might a bike training course not reduce a driver's risk of getting into a motorcycle accident, but it might actually increase the possibility.

As to how that could possibly be, safety experts signal a false sense of security among some riders who have taken such a course, especially in lieu of going through a longer learning period under a preliminary permit. Training courses sometimes fast-track the learning process, which puts a driver on the road too quickly and before he or she is truly ready to ride a bike safely under all conditions.

Safety studies bear out that a rider's risk of a motorcycle crash is highest in the first few months after getting a license. In fact, it peaks during the first month of riding, a period during which statistics show most riders being about four times more likely to suffer an accident than at any time during their second year of riding.

"It's most likely inexperience," says Highway Loss Data Institute vice president Matthew Moore.

The institute states that, over a recent five-year period, more than 20 percent of bike crashes involved a novice rider with an insurance policy less than one month old.

Again, many industry experts point to some training courses as the reason for that, especially when they are expedited and graduation from them confers an unconditional license.

A longer learning period under a preliminary and supervised period, followed by a road test or hands-on instruction through a course running several days, is a preferable strategy for increasing road safety, they note.

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

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