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Facing the Reality of

Higher Risk

I have been working in the motorcycle safety world for over 20 years. I can very often be seen wearing a shirt or jacket with a motorcycle safety or rider training brand on it. I happened to look at my jacket the other day and noticed that right next to the STAR Program logo (see picture), I have a pin encouraging people to become organ and tissue donors. At first, I thought this was an odd mix of messages (motorcycle safety and organ donation); but then it started to make more sense …

We don’t often talk about it, but the reality is that for those of us who ride, we are FAR more likely to be injured or killed in a traffic crash than car drivers are. I don’t know of anyone who disputes that. The fact that we all know this, and we all ride anyway says that we accept this increased level of risk. We can pretend that the risk isn’t there, but that doesn’t serve us very well (and it isn’t respectful to the spouses, children, parents, and friends that we may leave behind). The question for each of us is: what do we choose to do to help mitigate that risk and/or prepare for the potential consequences of that risk?

Seatbelt billboard from OHS ITDThe Idaho Transportation Department recently launched a seatbelt campaign that helps remind us that our choices affect more than just ourselves.

Decisions like this are about as personal as they get, and I don’t have any intention of telling anyone else what they should decide. But I will STRONGLY suggest that we all give it some serious thought and actually make a choice.

Here are a few of the topics that I have given some serious thought to and what I have chosen to do for my wife … for my son … for my parents … and for myself.

• Life and Disability InsuranceWe have policies in place that ensure my wife and son will have a home and enough to live on if I am gone, or if I am injured to the point of not being able to work.

• Medical InsuranceWe have a policy that will provide pretty good medical/hospital coverage if I am seriously injured.

• Organ and Tissue DonorIf I am killed (riding or otherwise), I have decided that anything ‘I am no longer using’ can be used to help someone in need.

• Riding SoberAlcohol is involved in a very large number of motorcycle crashes. So I have a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for myself when it comes to drinking and riding. If I drink, I ride zero miles; if I’m riding, I have zero drinks. Simple (no math involved!).

• Riding SkillsMany crashes can be avoided with good braking, cornering, swerving, and low-speed control skills. I practice all of these regularly and take on-going rider training. How many times does it have to save your life to be ‘worth it?’

• Riding GearIf a crash does happen (and I’ll be honest hereI’ve been down a few times and my riding gear did its job each time), I want to increase my odds of walking away (and not being carried away). I always wear gear that protects my body, hands, feet/ankles, head/face, and is highly visible. The visibility and protection of my eyes and ears can help prevent a crash, and the rest helps if/when there is a crash. Since I have no idea which ride may end up in a crash, I am always prepared. Againhow many times does it have to save your life to be ‘worth it?’

We all know that choosing to ride is choosing to accept risk. For some of us, that’s a big part of the appeal. I encourage all of us to think about that risk and make some choices about how we will deal with itfor our families … for our friends … for ourselves.

-Ax


Stacey Axmaker heads up the Idaho Star Motorcycle Safety Program. for more information visit http://idahostar.org/


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