Each spring brings with it all the annual rites of passage – cleaning out the closets, sprucing up the landscaping, and for a growing number of Americans, taking the Harley out for a ride. According to data from the Insurance Information Institute, 2005 sales of all types of two-wheeled motorbikes reached more than 1.1 million, a high-water mark not seen in almost thirty years.
Fueling the trend are Baby Boomers, along with a more disturbing one - motorcycle fatalities for riders age 40 and older. According to 2005 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data, riders age 40 and older accounted for almost half of all motorcycle deaths. The age-group death rate has roughly doubled in ten years, accounting for only 25 percent of total deaths in 1995. Fatalities for younger riders during this same period steadily declined.
Safety is important for all motorcycle riders, but experts suggest extra precautions for older riders due to the need for above-average balance, coordination and reflex that motorcycles demand and the subtle erosion of these skills that many boomers experience. The NHTSA recommends the following precautions:
- Never mix alcohol and motorcycles: in 2005, 41 percent of motorcycle fatalities involving a single vehicle (ex: rider hits a barrier), were suffered by drivers with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher. On the weekends, the percentage of single vehicle, alcohol-related fatalities climbed to 61 percent.
- Make yourself visible: Choose protective gear that will increase your visibility in addition to providing protection in the event of a crash. Wear bright colors that make you more visible and, if riding at night, wear clothing with retro-reflective materials.
- Ride where you can be seen: Remember that there is no one safe place to ride. Use lane positioning to your advantage to be seen and to provide extra space for emergency braking situations or avoidance maneuvers. Avoid the driver's blind spots. Make your lane moves gradually, and always signal your intentions.
- Wear a helmet: it is estimated that wearing a helmet improves your odds of surviving a crash by 37 percent.
- Clearly signal your intentions to other drivers: Signal before changing lanes and never weave between lanes.
Motorcycle owners should check with their local Allstate agent about the numerous discounts available for motorcycle insurance. Savings of up to 40% off the standard premium are possible if any or all of the scenarios below apply:
- Do you have a homeowners, condominium or auto policy with Allstate?
- Have you had motorcycle insurance with another company within the last 30 days?
- Are you a good rider (no accidents, no major violations, no comprehensive losses and no more than one minor violation in the last 60 months)?
- Are you a member of a motorcycle organization?
- Do you own more than one motorcycle?
- Have you completed a motorcycle safety foundation course?
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