Hold the Cheese

L.A. Magazine, February 1996

Next time someone starts ragging you about how much motorcycling costs the public at large in medical and other costs due to accidents, here are a few statistics to toss back at him, courtesy of the National Safety Council's (NSC) "Accident Facts, 1994 Edition":

Motorcycles represent just two (2) percent of the vehicles in the United States, with an estimated 4 million on the road out of a total vehicle population of almost 197 million. Out of that number, motorcycles account for less than one (1) percent of accidents and under six (6) percent of vehicle fatalities. Compared to the overall fatalities from all causes in the United States, motorcycles account for [only] 0.1 percent of the total.

Compare the 2,500 motorcycle fatalities with 720,862 from heart disease, and you could make a pretty good case that riding a Harley each day for 20 years is safer than eating a cheeseburger a day for the same amount of time. "...Hey, waiter, how about a tofu burger?"

Commentary by Steven Shmerler

OK...now to try to put this into further perspective, the NSC's 1995 Accident Facts also reveals ("Slips, Trips, & Falls" by Eric L. Van Fleet, Ph.D. Grand Valley State University):

"Slips, trips, and falls represent a major cause of accidental death and injury, in both the home and work environment. About one-seventh of all accidental deaths are due to injuries sustained because of a fall. Approximately 12,000 lives are lost annually." Research indicates that if the head of a human makes contact with a solid object, at a speed over 2 mph, the force generated is sufficient to crack the human skull open.

From the National Safety Belt Coalition:

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for every age from 5 through 32. In 1994, 40,676 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes and approximately 5 million were injured.
So, we lose 12,000 people to common "Slips, Trips, & Falls", 40,676 in auto wrecks and 2,500 in bike crashes annually. On a human level, 2,500 is a great loss. On a statistical level... well - you get the point. As you look around at other activities and the potential and realized risks, you have to ask the question: "just how big of a public burden are motorcyclists compared to auto wrecks and pedestrians?

If the government believes that helmets are so beneficial I wonder when we can expect to be forced to wear a helmet whenever we're not asleep in bed... Come to think of it, I probably travel 2 mph en route the bathroom where the most common accidents occur. Yikes!

The NSC 1995 Accident Facts can be had for $32 by calling 800-621-7619

Ride Safe, Ride Free

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