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How to convince your family to let you ride a motorcycle

You’ve seen motorcycles riding around town. They look like so much fun! Maybe your friends ride and you want to. There is just one thing standing in your way… your family.

Maybe it’s your parents who don’t want you to get a motorcycle as your first vehicle. Maybe it’s your wife or husband that fears for your safety and forbids you from getting one. Whoever it is, here are some solid arguments you can use to convince your loved ones that you should get a motorcycle.

Acknowledge how dangerous motorcycles are

Chances are the number one argument they have for not wanting you to ride is because they are so dangerous. The thing is, they are correct. According to the US National Highway and Safety Administrations data from 2012, “Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were more than 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash.”

Motorcycles are just more dangerous. On a motorcycle you aren’t surrounded by airbags, crumple zones, and safety restraints like you are when you ride in a car. However, if you dive a bit deeper into the data some interesting things pop up. There are great ways to increase your survivability and drastically lower your chance of getting into a motorcycle accident.

Action step: Don’t drink and ride!

“In fatal motorcycle crashes in 2012, 27% of the motorcycle riders had a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC’s) of .08 grams per deciliter or higher.”
 
“43% of the 2,030 motorcycle riders who died in single-vehicle crashes in 2012 had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher.” 

Let’s break that down. It means that drinking any alcohol before you ride dramatically increases your likelihood of dying by crashing into another vehicle, or just crashing by by yourself on a curvy road.

What you can do: Never drink and ride! I have a rule if I have even one drink I don’t get on a motorcycle. The risks aren’t worth it. 

cones.jpgAction step: Training & licensing

“24% percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2012 were riding their vehicles without valid motorcycle licenses at the time of the collisions”

If you don’t have a valid driver's license, chances are you don’t have very good training (or maybe no training at all!). It’s been shown that if you are trained by family and friends you are much more likely to be in an accident.

What you can do: Get REAL training from professional riders. A great training class is the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s basic rider course. There are local motorcycle training courses in many areas that don’t offer the MSF Basic course, such as the STAR course in Idaho. 
 

Action step: Engine size

“45% of motorcycle riders were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes while riding motorcycles with engine sizes of 1,001 cubic centimeters (cc) or higher in 2012”

That data point is in stark contrast to bikes 500cc’s or less that come in with only 6% of the motorcycle related fatalities. It makes sense, a larger bike can go faster and get you into trouble with just a flick of the wrist. A smaller bike is easier to maneuver and keep under control even if the rider makes a mistake.

That doesn’t meant that all ‘big’ bikes are death traps, they can actually be a lot of fun. By starting out on a smaller motorcycle you give yourself a great foundation of riding skills that can transfer to a higher CC motorcycle when you are ready. 

What you can do: Buy a bike that is 500cc’s or less such as the CBR 500, the Ninja 300, or even the TW200. Especially if this is your first motorcycle! 

Action step: Safety gear

“NHTSA estimates that helmets saved the lives of 1,699 motorcyclists in 2012. If all
motorcyclists had worn helmets, an additional 781 lives could have been saved.”

“Helmets are estimated to be 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle riders”

“In States without universal helmet laws, 62% of motorcyclists killed in 2012 were not wearing helmets, as compared to 9% in States with universal helmet laws”

Wow, the data really speaks for itself. Wearing a helmet drastically increases your survivability if you get in a motorcycle accident. I live in a state without universal helmet laws and I would say half the riders I see around town aren’t wearing any sort of helmet. That really freaks me out! 

What you can do: Wear a full face helmet every time you ride.

“But what about the kids!?”

An argument I’ve seen significant others use to prevent their partner from riding is children. If one of you were to die, it would really impact that child emotionally and financially. They might also say that riding a motorcycle sets a bad example of taking unnecessary risks.

Allow me to offer another point of view.

I would say that if you don’t do something you really enjoy because of fear, that is a horrible lesson to teach your children. 

A much stronger lesson would be that if there is something you REALLY want to do, take all the steps necessary to make it as safe as possible. Do your diligent research and take the proper training courses and start on the right motorcycle for you.

Everything in life is dangerous. Driving in a car is dangerous (I’ve known people who have died in car accidents, I’m sure you have too), participating in sports is dangerous (I’ve known people who have suffered serious injuries because of sports), the modern American diet is dangerous (don’t get me started on heart disease and cancer related to what we choose to put in our bodies!). 

The point is, living life is generally a pretty dangerous activity. You are going to die some day. Not only will you die, but so will every single person you know. Every family member, friend, celebrity, politician, and saint. We all die. We all know this, but we choose to ignore it. 

Sometimes by getting caught up in trying to live as long a life as possible, we can forget what it really means to live. It’s a bit of a cliche, but I love this quote:
 
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what a ship was built for."
ship_0.jpg

What if they still won’t budge?

Some people have such a visceral reaction to motorcycles that there is no amount of logical arguments that can convince them to be comfortable with the idea of you riding. In that case you really have to weigh a few different things. What is your relationship with that person and how will riding a motorcycle impact that relationship? Finally, if that person still needs to be in your life if they are so controlling?

Healthy personal relationships do not involve one person controlling another. Not through emotional blackmail, not through financial blackmail, and not through authoritative approaches. 

If a person in my life wasn’t comfortable with how I choose to live, then perhaps that person doesn’t need to be in my life anymore. That doesn’t mean to never take outside opinions, but to weigh all the evidence and come to your own conclusions. You are the one living your life, no one else is.

If that person that is against you riding happens to be a parent or significant other, you might examine the options and decide that the amount of happiness you gain from riding a motorcycle won’t outweigh the negative worries that person will experience. Then again, we often times fear things we don’t understand. Maybe that person would change their mind if they went and took the MSF course with you and saw how much thought you were putting into safety. If they aren’t willing to put in that effort for your relationship, that speaks volumes about the strength of their emotionally based argument.
 

Source: 

http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812035.pdf

Comments

Matt 's picture

Submitted by Matt (not verified) on

I was wondering what your opinion on the CB500F was.  This would be my first bike and I have done quite a bit of research and saw that the CB300 was a highly recommended bike.  The major complaint with that bike that I noticed was the look and the lack of power.  Since I would want something that I could enjoy for more than a year would the CB500F be a good starting bike?  

Geoffrey's picture

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on

My Son has been riding on and off road for over ten years. He nails all the safety steps in this article, even the cc limit (rides a 250 Honda Reflex)...but momma still hates the bike. I constantly mention to my son the mental aspect of riding...he really buys that, but Mom doesn't buy it at all.. I am so glad he started out on dirt bikes because there is just so much more to think about in the dirt. You really get no breaks mentally on a dirt-bike. In fact, I am much more concerned with complacency on his road bike.

Great article.

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