The Motorcycle Safety Foundation recently funded a Virginia Tech study on why motorcyclists crash. Hundreds of cameras were placed on bikes, recording a wide variety of riders every move.
We drop our bikes more than we'd like to admit.
The folks at Revzilla read the 20 page report and summed it up nicely.
We complain all the time about other people on the road trying to kill us, especially cars pulling into our paths. The VTTI study partially backs that up. Of the 99 crashes and near-crashes involving another vehicle, the three categories of other vehicles crossing the rider's path add up to 19.
Here's the surprise, however. What's the most common scenario? Riders hitting (or nearly hitting) another vehicle from behind. There were 35 of those incidents. Are we really almost twice as likely to plow into a stopped car in front of us as to have someone pull into our path? Or should we write this off as the result of a small sample size?
Maybe there are clues in the risk section. Researchers tried to break down rider behavior in crashes and near-crash incidents into two categories: aggressive riding or rider inattention or lack of skills. The cameras and other data helped determine, for example, if the rider ran the red light because of inattention or aggressive riding.
The study found that aggressive riding increased risk by a factor of 18 while inattention or lack of skill increased it by a factor of nine. Combine the two, and odds of an incident increased by 30.
Now here's one of the less dramatic findings, but an interesting one, just the same. It seems we drop our bikes a lot. Or at least the riders in the study did. More than half the crashes were incidents some riders wouldn't define as a crash — not a dramatic collision but an incident defined as a case where the "vehicle falls coincident with low or no speed (even if in gear)" not caused by another outside factor. Rider inattention or poor execution are to blame. The study finds "These low-speed 'crashes' appear to be relatively typical among everyday riding," but they are incidents that would never be included in a different kind of study of motorcycle crashes. The cameras, however, capture it all, even our mundane but embarrassing moments.