With reports of some bikers doing stunts on I-15 and a rash of recent motorcycle fatalities and accidents it appears that the Utah Legislature has some plans. KSL here in Salt Lake has some pretty spectacular videos of motorcyclists performing stunts at high speed.
Starting in July all people under 19 years will have to obtain a two month learners permit before earning your motorcycle endorsement. This goes for motorcycle riders and scooter riders alike. Another rule change states that you can only ride a bike with the same or smaller engine size than that on which you tested to get your license.
Safety is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. I ride a motorcycle almost every day to work. I ride it on weekends and practically every chance I get. In Utah there is a motorcycle accident every 9 hours and the large majority of deaths involve those not wearing helmets. Motorcycle crash data statistics are compiled by the Utah Department of Highway Safety.
Rob Nolan, a motorcycle safety instructor, says on KSL that laws are not always the answer. Instruction and just making motorcyclists aware of the consequences is what is needed he says. I do not totally agree. It is not one or the other – laws versus instruction. Look deeper into the statistics and you can determine that the majority of motorcycle accidents involve relatively novice riders. So what does that mean? Are they just more risk taking because they are young or do they lack training? Again I think the answer is not that easy.
With an analysis of the statistics and after writing many articles regarding motorcycle helmets and other motorcycle safety articles I have some observations.
- Most accidents happen near your home.
- The majority of motorcyclists do not wear helmets.
- Many motorcycle accidents are single vehicle.
- Most motorcyclists in accidents are novices.
- Most motorcyclists in accidents have not taken a motorcycle safety class.
- A lot of motorcyclists do not have licenses.
These observations tell me that the laws outlined above will do little to decrease motorcycle deaths and injuries in Utah. This is so because people will continue to drive what they want regardless of the need for license endorsement. A learners permit allows you to drive a motorcycle anyway.
What we need is a combination of law and instruction. I think every motorcyclist wannabe must complete a mandatory motorcycle safety rider class of instruction. I think all riders under the age of 21 must wear helmets. Under 21 because one has to become accustomed to wearing a helmet to persist in wearing a helmet for starters and secondly this age group accounts for the majority of accidents.
Will I be blasted for this? Probably. Do I wear a helmet? Yes – usually – about 95% of the time. Do not misunderstand me. I think it should be your choice to wear or not wear a helmet – I just choose to.