You might think this is another study telling us what we already know, but it’s interesting, nevertheless. In a Virginia Tech Transportation Institute study covering the driving habits of 241 drivers for more than a year, distractions contributed to 80% of accidents. Think about that, bad weather, other motorists, bad roads and everything else contributed to less than 20%.
So what were the big offenders doing? Before everyone says talking on their cell phone, that itself had no particular effect, but DIALING the cell phone increased the likelihood of an accident by 3 times, the same as applying makeup. Reaching for a moving object increased the accident danger by 9 times! Digging around for a CD or putting it in the stereo doubles the risk.
So what’s so interesting to motorcyclists about an auto driver accident study? First, is drivers really are distracted and adding to a motorcyclist’s lack of visibility to begin with, these drivers hit trees and telephone poles because they’re daydreaming, if we don’t watch out for ourselves, we’re roadkill. But even more interesting is that the type of distraction most likely to cause an accident is precisely the type of thing a motorcyclist doesn’t do simply because, for the most part, we can’t. We don’t have coffee mugs rolling around the floor while we try to retrieve them and I haven’t seen any women motorcyclists putting on makeup while they were riding.
Motorcycle riding requires more attention by the nature of the vehicle. We’re engaged in the process, we have to be. Certainly careless and reckless riders and those with lower skill levels can pile themselves up but the “I’m safe in my steel cocoon” feeling is missing. Bikers know if they go down or hit something, there are real consequences and that’s a point often missed by those who take shots at how dangerous riding a motorcycle is supposed to be. The higher level of potential danger keeps us much more on guard while drivers wander carefree down the highway which is something to think about the next time you see the driver in the car next to you reading the newspaper at 70mph.
Links: Detroit News