The roar of spring
March 20, 2012
Some of us will celebrate the first day of spring with a glance at the purple crocuses in our gardens, others may stroll by a pond where the spring peepers are croaking.
And there are some for whom spring means the guttural roar of tailpipes. Those folks are dusting off the motorcycle in the garage for some warm-weather riding, on open highways and down quiet back roads where the scenery flashes by on all sides.
Motorcycle ownership has mushroomed in the last decade, with at least 7.1 million now registered for road use. According to this site which takes its information from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the bikes are bigger, faster – and are driven by ever-older riders. “The median age of owners increased from 27.1 years in 1985 to 41.0 years in 2003. From 1985 to 2003, the percentage of owners 40–49 years old increased from 13.2 to 27.9 percent, and the percentage of owners 50+ years old increased from 8.1 to 25.1 percent,” the report says.
Sadly, those riders are contributing to a rise in the accidental death rate across the country. While the riders aren't always at fault, this source says the most common accident is one in which a vehicle (car or truck) turns left in front of the motorcyclist. Helmets reduce the mortality of motorcycle accidents, but there are frequent attempts to loosen that requirement, including a proposal before the state Legislature right now.
Riding less frequently isn't really a way to avoid accidents: this source says that the most dangerous days for motorcyclists are weekends, just the time that most are likely to be out on the road enjoying the scenery.
For some fascinating facts on motorcycle use, helmet laws and death rates across the country, check out this interactive map. It shows that Massachusetts has nearly 150,000 registered motorcycles and one of the lowest accidental death rates. Perhaps it's somewhat safer here because our roads are busier?