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The Motorcycle Crash of Chris Young

This is the story of Chris Young who suffered a really bad crash and survived. I think it is a good example of a lesson learned, although a painful one at that. Enough description, on to Chris' crash!

"My name is Chris Young and I live in Auburn, Alabama. I have been riding motorcycles for almost 19 years. Sport bikes for just over 10 years, I have been on the track at Roebling Road, GA. with both of my bikes, CBR900rr and the TL-R. I consider myself a good rider with a good head on my shoulders. I have wrecked many times, well maybe three or four, two times with full gear and two times without. 

The time I went down in 1992, and I was new to sport bikes and had no gear and someone wrecked me then took off to leave me. Luckily, many people stopped and took me home with a broken ankle and a little road rash, no hospital. Now for my new wreck and story that will hopefully make many of you think before going for a ride. I had been to talk with a friend briefly after midnight that evening. I was getting gas in my Montero-Sport. And after filling up, I had realized that I left my money at home. So I exchanged my cell phone to the cashier for minutes for me to leave and go home to get some money for the store. While at home, I thought about how nice the evening was and figured I would ride the bike to pay the gas station. (In shorts and t-shirt!!!) I made it to pay the lady but never made it home. Well, not until 26 days later. The cause of the wreck is still a blur to me, but not the crash and the aftermath.

The Crash

I think I was traveling around 100 mph on the interstate, because I told the police I was doing 70 - 90 mph to make it sound better, but you know how us "BAD SPORT BIKER'S" are, and had only passed two vehicles, one car and one trucker. The trucker did notice my high rate of speed, according to the police report and he was also the one who saved me. He was the one who stopped and pulled over to help, actually, he stopped his rig in the middle of the interstate.

Most people get run over on the interstate late at night while lying on the dotted white line. Like I said, I remember sliding and rolling and tumbling and flipping down the highway on my SKIN!!! But not the cause, I slid 300 feet, while the bike kept going to the 600-foot mark. I joke about Bo Jackson, (I am in Auburn, War Eagle!) running the 100 yard dash and lots of other track stars running the 100 yards in just a matter of seconds, but I SPANKED all of them on my back. Believe me, I do not take any of this lightly. This experience has changed my life.

While I was in the ER, My blood pressure got down to 60/30, average is 120/80, and I was put on lots of pain meds that night and they continued for almost 3 weeks. I shook like crazy all the time for three weeks, some from pain of my skin and some because coming off the pain meds towards the end. I had 600 cubic centimeters of skin grafts, taken from my left thigh and a broken collarbone. 25 days in the hospital and 7 surgeries. Most of the surgeries were to change the dressings on my arms and legs.

Due to the pain of the cleaning of my skin, I had to be put to sleep. One surgery was to cut away the dead skin, and one more was to graft and the last one was too take all the staples out of the grafted skin. My collarbone was never really looked at, it is healing ok, I guess. They wanted to fix my skin before they could do anything to my collarbone.

I know what I did wrong that night. It is not the motorcycle's fault!!! I got complacent and "IRRESPONSIBLE". Never ride with out leathers, especially while trying to break some kind of speed record at night on the "PUBLIC HIGHWAYS". Hospital bill has been totaled to $45,892.66, (Maybe More) I did have insurance, but wearing leathers would have been a lot better and cheaper.

Keep my accident in your mind so everyone will wear their protective gear, and save the big speed for the track. Many people all over the world have emailed me and told me that I have helped them change their mind about leathers, that's my main goal, always ride prepared, we never know what may happen to us, even if I was the one acting irresponsible."


Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I am a mom of a 25 year old son. Since he was 2 years old, he has loved cars, first toys and then real ones. He got his learner's permit at age 15 1/2 and after 60 hours of parental co-piloting, at age 16 he got his driver's license. He has been remarkably responsible and has only had one speeding ticket (to our knowledge). His dad and I bought him a used Honda Accord during his second year of college and a brand new Acura RSX for his 21st birthday. Now he tells us that gas is too expensive (he has a good job) and he wants to commute to work and around town (the Boston suburbs) on a motorcycle. He has approached this new lunacy with remarkable responsibility, i.e. taking riding lessons, buying the safest gear and swearing to use it always (ATGATT) but I am still frantic. My argument is that no matter what precautions are taken, if the car or truck near you plows into you, or even side swipes you, you may be in trouble with the possibility of serious injury or even death. Why would anyone want to take this increased risk when driving in a car is less dangerous because of the metal cage surrounding you?????? I am afraid that only an accident will deter him from motorcycle riding and hope with all my heart it is not his last thought before dying to have listened to his mom.
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
Everything you said is true, if a suburban decides to change lanes into your son and he doesn't have time to react he could crash and he could die. When you are on a motorcycle you are hands down more likely to get killed than if you were to drive in a car, thats just the facts. All the best gear in the world isn't going to protect you when you slam into a telephone pole at 60mph. Hell, I've even seen videos of people who lost limbs after crashing into a guardrail on a motorcycle. Riding a motorcycle is DANGEROUS. That being said, a lot of things in life are dangerous. Driving in a car is dangerous, 42,636 died in car accidents in 2005, and thats even with that 'protective metal cage'. What do you think of horseback riding? Pretty tame hobby in general, but did you know that it is statistically more dangerous than motorcycle riding? One thing that riding a motorcycle has taught me is how dangerous even mundane things can be. When you get in your car to go to work do you think, "Man I have to be really alert, and I'm aware that I could die on my way to work and I am going to do everything in my power to avoid that." It might sound silly, but thats what I do whenever I get on my motorcycle or get in a car. One of my favorite quotes is from a successory that I have hanging on my wall, on it is a picture of a ship surrounded by glaciers and the caption below it reads, "A ship in the harbor is safe... but thats not what ships were made for." You can live your life in fear and not take any risks, but what type of life is that? It sounds like your son is approaching this hobby in the safest way possible and he will probably enjoy riding for a very long time. Most of the motorcycle deaths I hear about are people that are doing crazy stunts on the freeway, not wearing any gear (and sometimes no helmets!), and generally being unsafe. Granted every now and then there is the occasional super safe veteren rider that dies, but those are much more unlikely. To give you some perspective I have never known anyone personally that has died while riding a motorcycle, but I did have a friend a few years ago die in a car accident. Does that mean I'm going to stop riding in cars? Nope, I'm just going to be as safe as possible in every activity I do. I hope all of that helps. Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

Doug's picture

Submitted by Doug (not verified) on
My wife and I are looking to get into riding as something to do together. We are going to take a motorcycle safety course and then get our licenses. I have the worries that you talk about fairly often. Today I cringe at the things that I did while young. But I think your post puts things in excellent perspective. We are going to get proper training, buy all the proper safety gear, and then, enjoy life :)
Kickprivate's picture

Submitted by Kickprivate on
Hello! First off let me say that I completely understand where you're coming from. I can very well understand your fear for your childs life and would like to offer some tips that may help you understand where your son is coming from. I myself do not ride because of the risk. I on the other hand enjoy the freedom on the mental level. However I also enjoy putting a lot of my time into training and tactics; learning ways to stay safe and enjoy being educated and educating. I believe that riding a motorcycle is a form of art and I am the artist. I take satisfaction is finding my fear in riding and having the ability and will power to gain my confidence to over take the fear and replace it with faith in my riding skills through practice. I fully understand where the fear comes from when your child or lover talks about getting a motorcycle and I know first hand the heartache of trying to educate people who do not understand. People have it in their head that they are death machines and often times think that anytime a motorcycle is in a accident that it was the riders fault. You say that your son is taking the proper steps to begin his riding. Have you? Here are somethings you may find useful and reassuring. Have your son sit down with you and talk to you about riding. You want him to educate you! You during this time need to keep a open mind. After all he has taken the first steps and told you that he is getting a motorcycle hasn't he? Your goal is to get him to tell you all about the wonderful of riding. Your goal is also to get him to tell you all about the wonderful dark side of riding. By doing this you are going to open his mind up to a new way of thinking. You want to remove the "I am against it:" attitude and replace it with a open mind. You want to look at the good side of riding and the bad side of riding with him. Help him find new ways of riding that will increase his skill. As mentioned before, you want him to educate you. Why though? Because rider education goes beyond knowing the skills of the rider. There is another level of riding that the rider has no control over until he takes control over it. Care to take a guess? If you guessed rider awareness then you are golden my love. Rider awareness is not just seeing a motorcycle and knowing its their. However this does play a large part. It's about understanding the actions that the rider may take in situations. Have your son educate you about this! The more you learn from your son the more you know he is taking the education approach. What if I told you that as I was passing you on the highway or driving behind you I could see your face? Can you guess how I can see your face and can you tell me why I would want to see your face? I hope this helps you. Constructive conversation is better then deconstructive put downs. Kickprivate

~Not your average hairless monkey

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Well, mom, I can understand why you would fear for your son's life when it comes to a motorcycle... but he's going to have to make the call on this one. And although I despise cliches, I'll throw this in - , "You could die while falling during your morning shower"; it's not to demean your concern or to generalize your son's life, but it's the truth. And I doubt that your son's interest in a motorcycle is strictly for "economical reasons'. :) I'm 25 years old and I could honestly care less if I had to pay MORE in gas to ride a bike. And yes, my parent's and family are concerned for my safety, but they respect my decision (as high risk as it is) to ride. From my perspective, it boils down to: The greater the risk - the greater the reward. I'd rather be six feet under because I followed a passion/ a dream than be six feet above as an old man that ponders his "could have's & should have's". The day I have children is the day that I'll sit back and think about self-preservation for the benefit of others.
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
I feel a braveheart speach coming on... ;) "I am William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny! You have come to fight as free men. And free man you are! What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?" "Two thousand against ten?" - the veteran shouted. "No! We will run - and live!" "Yes!" Wallace shouted back. "Fight and you may die. Run and you will live... at least awhile. And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our


Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Hey. My mom worries about me as well. There are two things that I feel are most important when riding a motorcycle. They are very simple: A: Wear as much(and the best) gear as you possibly can, always, with no exceptions ever for any reason. B: Keep your eyes open. Always look around you and EXPECT every car you pass to not see you and to do something wrong that would endanger your life. For example: When I ride past a car, I expect them to suddenly pull over into my line without seeing me, so I am consantly ready to grab my brakes or swereve.

Give your son this advice, and suggest to him that he look up some "motorcycle crash" videos on youtube(it helps you to be aware of what happens in these events...). Oh yes one other thing, tell him to be even more careful when traveling in an area he is unfamiliar with. If you do all these things, you are still at a fairly significant risk of injury, but the risk of death will be GREATLY reduced. I've been in a couple of accidents, it's part of the learning process when you ride. When you ride a bike, its not IF you crash, its WHEN you crash. I don't think I know anyone that has been riding for more than a year that has never crashed at all. Each of my crashes has taught me something that I was doing wrong, and I don't do those things anymore. Some things can only be learned through bad experiences, this is life.

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I feel the comparison to horseback riding may be misleading. It seems as if you're implying that horseback riding is as dangerous or more dangerous than motorcycle riding, which I'm sure you aren't. The article only quotes trips to the hospital and not the extent to those injuries. Falling off a horse and breaking a wrist would warrant a trip to the hospital. On the other hand, motorcycle accidents are far more serious as you're more likely to lose a limb or result in a fatality. Also, there's no need for euphemisms. People need to recognize exactly how dangerous motorcycle riding is in order to truly appreciate it for what it is. The mother is completely right in some respects. You say that driving a car is a dangerous act, which it is. However, you're 37 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than a car accident. Nonetheless, driving a car is very different from riding a motorcycle as you pointed out. Many who drive are careless because of the added safety the metal cage affords them and those who ride are likely to be much more aware because of the dangers they face.
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
I only know what the article I linked you to said, and they didn't mention the type of injuries, they just said that: "Hospital admission rate associated with equestrian activity is .49/1000 hours of riding. The rate when motorcycle riding is merely .14/1000 hours." Like I said, you are statistically more likely to become injured by riding a horse, than riding a motorcycle. I think you are overexagerating when you say "On the other hand, motorcycle accidents are far more serious as you are more likely to lose a limb or result in a fatality." Although that may be true compared to horseback riding, you make it sound that whenever you crash on a motorcycle your arms and legs are going to be chopped off if you aren't killed first. 90% of the riders I know personally have crashed at least once, sometimes at low speeds like myself and sometimes at higher speeds. If we are just talking about odds and statistics then I'm sure everyone knows that Heart Disease is the number one killer, but cheeseburgers look rather harmless to most people. "More than 910,000 Americans still die of heart disease annually, according to the American Heart Association. And more than 70 million Americans live every day with some form of heart disease, which can include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, angina (chest pain), heart attack and congenital heart defects." The fact is, motorcycle are dangerous, but so is getting out of bed in the morning (You have a 1-in-246 chance of dying by falling down). Everyone has to assess their own level of risk. Some people are comfortable parachuting, bungie jumping, and rock climbing but would freak out if they were forced to drink milk a day past the expiration date. A virologist working in a Level 4 Biosafety environement on Marburg virus, Hantaviruses, or any number of horrible diseases might think that riding a motorcycle is much too dangerous an activity to participate. The point is I know motorcycles are more dangerous than cars, but they are also much more fun than cars and in my opinion are worth the risk. With this website I have to walk the line of informing people about the dangers of riding without giving them the false impression that as soon as you swing a leg over a bike you will die. That's why I post articles like the one above and why I am consantly reminding people to start on the proper bike and wear all their gear, all the time.
"A ship in the harbor is safe...but that's not what ships were made for." Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

Roman's picture

Submitted by Roman (not verified) on
Ben, I'm a pilot (too). Years ago, everyone tried to 'sell' the story of how safe it was to fly and how dangereous it was to drive to the airport. While there is an element of truth in that, the industry (led by John and Martha King) have started to acknowledge that flying is dangerous - and it's all about managing the risks. The same applies for motorcycles, riding horses, and driving while talking on a cell phones...I appreciate your poster with the ship and it's a good message. We tend to like to keep things very simple, and that isn't always possible. 'Dogs are good, cats are bad, vegetables are good, meat is bad, etc.' A lot of things in life are complicated; risk can be managed, but not eliminated. Most things can be made dangerous (cross the street without looking...) People get accustomed to the risks they take as the management of those risks becomes part of their routine. If cars were just invented today, in our risk-averse society, they'd be so frightfully regulated that it would resemble airline travel....but we are comfortable riding at high speeds in vehicles fueled by highly volatile, carcenogenic chemicals, separated from head on collisions by mere inches of free space, operated by under-trained, frequently distracted, people of only moderate intellectual capacity (at best), poorly maintained, generally unmonitored, in all weather conditions. But it's familar to us all, so we don't even think about it.... And, as you poster implies, if we spend our life seeking security and safety at the expense of all experience. have we really lived? Of course, it would be reckless to ignore the dangers, but isn't it equally wasteful to miss the adventure?
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
I hope to get flying lessons sometime in the next year or two! The only thing holding me back is the moola involved. Ben ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

Zee, 31's picture

Submitted by Zee, 31 (not verified) on
IMHO - Your son is getting a bike - no questions. It looks like he's an independent mature enough man of making his own decisions - and if he can afford it he will get one. I would suggest that instead of disapproving of it you show support - it will make him more responsible. An MSF course is a must but I have him take advance courses as well (if money is an issue pay for it yourself) - this will help not only to improve the skills but also to become even more aware of the risk and responsibility.
Squid's picture

Submitted by Squid on
They're jusy tools that can only do what we make them do. It needs to be said, and beaten into the skulls of those who would think otherwise. Bikes aren't dangerous. Stupid people are dangerous. Just like guns, and knives, and cars, and any number of millions of things aren't dangerous until... can anyone guess? Yea, that's right. Until a stupid person gets their grubby little paws on them. Lay blame where it belongs. Now to go make some food, on my stove. Which can burn me or my house down, unless I'm not stupid.
Peng's picture

Submitted by Peng (not verified) on
Hi, first of all i want to say a couple of things for who i am and why i am writing this. I'm a 28 year old guy from Australia. I've so far embraced every opportunity to gain knowledge on different aspects of life. And so far i've been able to do everthing i wanted to accomplish. Whether it was getting a good education or making good money. I have EVERYTHING in life a guy can ask for. Except the one thing that i have wanted since i was 4 years old. A motorbike. I haven't been able to buy a motorbike due to my parents, mmmhh how to put it, restrictions? I think they were quite like the mom in this forum. I wanted to buy my own motorbike, i even bought all the gear for a motorbike to get them used to the idea of me on a motorbike. That wasn't quite successful though. However it is them and parents have to let go of their children when they become adults. Ofcourse i understand a child will always be a child to parents even when they r 40. But that doesn't mean you should interfere with their choices and stop them from doing what they will be pleased most. Instead as parents, make sure your most loved kids are aware of the consequences of their choices. Rest should be up to them and as parents, you would make your kids happier if you support them. I am telling this from 1st hand experience. Since i am living in Australia and my parents are in another country, i am relatively more free. I will be buying my first motorbike next month. However i am not able to share the joy of fulfilling the dream of a lifetime with my parents due to their parental behaviour. Telling them i am getting a bike will just worry them more. And if i get into an accident and die(i hope not :) they'll know it anyways. I really don't like lying to them but i have no other choice. But this is my life and i want to ride a bike. So this is what i am going to do. I suggest you back up your kid on the decision they take. Now to Ben... Dude, you are an admin of this website. You should be making objective comments. Horse riding is more dangerous due to statistics, or people who died from car accidents are more than motorbike accidents... This is totally nonsense! NONSENSE! Someone who gets on the bike, knows the risks and takes the risks granted. About people dying from car accidents being more than bike accidents. Do you know the number of people driving cars compared to number of people riding motorbikes? I personally don't but it must be something like 1 to 100. Riding a motorbike is fun but a dangerous hobby. Do not try to persuade people to believe blind logic. Yes it is true we can die while taking a shower or riding a car. Not riding a motorbike is reducing the risk factor... And fyi, they ask if you are riding a motorbike when you go to get a private health insurance. Guess why...
Ben's picture

Submitted by Ben on
Hey Peng, Why should I be objective with my comments? If I am passionate enough about motorcycles and safety to spend hundreds of hours building and running a website like this doesn't it make sense that I am going to be more for motorcycles than I would be against them? I stand by what I said before: "You are statistically more likely to become injured by riding a horse, than riding a motorcycle." That is a statistical fact, you cannot argue it. It's just math. I also realize that more people drive in cars than they ride motorcycles, so therefore there is obviously going to be more car accidents than motorcycle accidents. I would have to say that most people do not think driving a car is dangerous, and that is the point I was trying to illustrate. In fact, if you would have read a few sentences before that then you would have seen me say this: "When you are on a motorcycle you are hands down more likely to get killed than if you were to drive in a car, thats just the facts." One of the reasons people think motorcycle riding is MORE dangerous than riding a horse is because of the stigma attached to both sports. Motorcycles are fast paced and typically ridden by young men while horseback riding is elegant and 'classy'. Allow me to make a correlation: A lot of people would say that guns are very dangerous, especially when it comes to children and guns. Pools on the other hand are fun, and a great way for the whole family to relax in the summer. But statistically speaking a residential pool is 100x more likely to kill a child than a gun would. What’s more dangerous: a swimming pool or a gun? When it comes to children, there is no comparison: a swimming pool is 100 times more deadly. In 1997 alone (the last year for which data are available), 742 children under the age of 10 drowned in the United States last year alone. Approximately 550 of those drownings — about 75 percent of the total — occurred in residential swimming pools. According to the most recent statistics, there are about six million residential pools, meaning that one young child drowns annually for every 11,000 pools. About 175 children under the age of 10 died in 1998 as a result of guns. About two-thirds of those deaths were homicides. There are an estimated 200 million guns in the United States. Doing the math, there is roughly one child killed by guns for every one million guns. Thus, on average, if you both own a gun and have a swimming pool in the backyard, the swimming pool is about 100 times more likely to kill a child than the gun is. There are a lot of people that are anti-gun, or anti-motorcycle, but where are the people that are anti-horse back riding or anti-pools? Anyway, I digress. Motorcycles are dangerous, I never said they weren't, but in my opinion there are a lot more dangerous things out there. My question is, do you honestly think that I'm trying to convince people to 'believe blind logic' and not think through their decisions? Do you think that I don't take motorcycles, and motorcycle safety seriously? ~Best Beginner Motorcycles Admin


Ben - Editor and Owner of BBM

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Hi Ben, I'm sorry if i've offended you but i am still behind what i said before. To clarify it i'll put it this way. We both share the same passion. I've been going to motorcycle shops just to sit on the bikes and dream that i was riding them when i was a kid. Cutting bike pictures from magazines, checking bike prices on papers even though i knew i was not going to buy... It is like the dream of a life time. And so you have the same passion and i can see that clearly with the way you defend riding motorbikes or making this website or helping other people on their decision for starting riding motorbike. However i do not believe it is comparable with horse riding statistics, car accidents or guns. And at the case of kids drowning in pools, this is more likely to be parents fault not watching their kids instead of the kid. It is the irresponsibility of the person shooting the gun or leaving the gun in an unsafe place which results with a kids' death. In the case of riding a motorbike however, it is a risk avoidable that the person chooses not to by getting on the motorbike. You can justify your point of view with all the statistical facts in the world and i will still be behind my opinions. We just have similar ideas from different points of view. Thanks for the reviews on gt250r & sv650 btw. They helped big time
Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
wait wait wait a second here.... "in the case of a riding motorbike however, it is a risk avoidable that the person chooses not to by gettin on the motorbike".... Well, isn't a pool also a "risk avoidable" situation (dont' get a house with a pool ... don't let the kids get near the pool) Isn't gun deaths also a "risk avoidable" situation (outlaw guns... don't buy guns... don't allow others to own a gun) It is a bit subjective and misleading when you say that these comparisons or analogies are incorrect by applying rules unequally. Although I don't agree with quite a few things that are said here, I will back him up on this one: Statistics are straight math. You can not argue against math. You can not say "they are not the same" when it's the same math being applied to each statistic. The only thing you, or I, can really do is assess what these statistics really mean to us (as some previous repliers correctly did). But let's not pretend that gun deaths, and pool deaths are somehow "more acceptable and cleaner" deaths or more honorable deaths than motorcycling deaths. Death is death. ANY death is "risk avoidable". And i would most certainly argue that you can not tell me that motorcycle riding is more "risk avoidable" than putting a gun on the premises. Just my 2 cents. Richey
Mike B.'s picture

Submitted by Mike B. (not verified) on

I disagree with the notion that statics are simply math and that's that. Yes Statistics are a mathematical calculation, however they are very subjective in the way they are gathered. In Ben's own arguement you can poke holes in in his stats. First off where did he get them? How were they gathered? But even easier his Gun stats have qualifiers. X amount of children were killed, but of that amount X amount were homecides. A) how do we know that? B) what other non "accidental" gun death is thrown into that number? What accidental death is heald back? I don't know, but without researching how a statistic is gathered they can only be taken as suggestions, and not as gossple.

That being said I agree with what many of the reasonable posts on here have said. The are risks everyday. I think the issue with bikes, just like guns, is they can ellicit behavior that is dangerous because of what they are. A pool is dangerous, but a pool doesn't neccessarily ellicit dangerous behavior. Even if it does possibly not to the degree of a gun or motorcycle. Speed and power are very fun and very addictive. It's that lure that gives them their stigma.

I can understand the Mom's concerns. I'm 33 and looking to get my first bike. I'm petrified to tell my Mom because I know she will react the exact same way as the Mom posting here.

To the Mom, I don't think you should try and guilt trip your son into not riding because ultimately he will do it behind your back anyway. I think you should trust you raised him right and he will ride in a safe manor. Also don't be afraid to remind him about safe riding(a helmet or riding jacket for christmas!).

Kevin Lam's picture

Hey man, This is my first time on your website. I've been sitting here for quite a while and reading through your articles and posts and responses, because I'm interested in getting a bike. Besides that, I'm actually more intrigued by your responses. I agree that it is difficult to be unbiased when you're the admin, but you've pointed out a lot of good points. Regardless of being objective or not, it wouldn't make sense to me if you agreed with the mother and said 'yeah, no one should ride a motor cycle because of the dangers of riding a bike.' So how is being "objective" going to help the situation? Ben was merely pointing out statistics to help the mother feel better about the situation. He did not belittle her or try to make her feel as if she's in the wrong. I think his responses are very helpful. Yes, the dangers are there, but by being safe and responsible, anyone can minimize the risks and could quite possibly go through life without any serious injuries. Heck, being in the military is dangerous. Working on a US carrier is dangerous. I don't see anyone crying about that. Of course, everyone in my life (that matters) is telling me not to get a bike. My wife is totally against it and even went as far as to say that it is irresponsible just to be on one. I don't think that's a very fair call and as a grown man. I will argue my points and get a motorcycle in a few years. Sincerely, Kevin
Amoryl's picture

Submitted by Amoryl on

you know, the same arguments I get about the dangers of motorcycles vs suv's are the same arguments by the same people against smart cars, and subcompact cars "those SUV's are so huge they'll just run right over me! I must therefore have an even bigger SUV to be safe!" the cycle won't end till we're either all driving tanks, or gas is like $20 a gallon. rather than bother to learn to drive defensively or encourage intelligent driving, they respond by buying bigger and bigger monstrosities, and THEN they argue that it's less safe to drive a compact/motorcycle because of the number huge cars that they themselves have also bought. take a look at india, or bankok, or a lot of those big asian cities, (they pop up on youtube a lot) where theres NO traffic control, no logical order whatsoever to flow, and no one pays the slightest attention to being in a lane. yet none of these videos show what would be inevitable here in the states, there's no 200 person deadly pileup. 70% of them are driving small motorcycles or sub compact cars, and everyone's weaving around everyone else. the big difference? no huge SUV's, no soccer mom's with a jumbo coffee in one hand and cell phone in the other, none of the "I own the entire road, you need to get out of my way" mentality that seems to predominate the suburban SUV world.

personally I think the only way that motorcycling will become safer is by more people riding motorcycles.more people getting smaller vehicles and giving up this "I own the road" mentality. in general you don't see motorcyclists forcing themselves into the lane, or cutting people off, or refusing to surrender right of way. In general you don't see a smart car, metro, or prius doing that either. but every single day I see dozens and dozens of SUV's doing exactly that, forcing their way into my lane, making me slam on my brakes to keep from hitting them, seeing them change lanes illegally, run red lights, make a left turn long after the lights turned, general rule has always been if you're in the intersection when the light turns yellow, you get to go, this means generally a max of 2 cars'll scrape through the red, but nowadays I'm seeing 3, 4, sometimes even 5 force their way through. I've seen so many people turn left on reds that the oncomming traffic's green turn arrow ends before the first car can make their turn. and I blame the larger heavier "safer" vehicles for this mentality, that because they're bigger and stronger, they don't have to pay attention to the road, that they don't have to follow the rules of the road (let alone driver's courtesy...does ANYONE remember that?)

wow, I didn't mean to start ranting. let me say though that I drive a cargo van as part of my job, so I'm on the road a LOT. and in my years of doing this job, I've never cut off, crowded, or otherwise threatened the welfare of a motorcyclist. of course my van's my livelyhood, if I wreak it, I can't work, if I can't work, I can't afford the repair, if I can't repair, I can't work...etc... so I always do the silly unnessisary task of looking where the heck I'm going! and I assume every single car is actively trying to kill me. because they'll cut me off almost as easily as they will a cycle.

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Heh, some of those countries you mention have some of the deadliest roads around. All that lack of rules does lead to horrible accidents. You just don't see them unless you live there. Trust me, it's much much worse than what you are thinking. I would rather drive on American highways surrounded by hundreds of SUV's than on any city road in a country where they have no traffic control or ignore the regulations as a general rule. It looks like it's working when you see those videos but that is just a small sample, the reality is that it's incredibly more dangerous than US roads.

Horseback riding is more likely to cause an injury per hour of riding versus a motorcycle but I hate using that as a justification. You're much more likely to die on a motorcycle than horseback riding (much more likely, statistically speaking). I would worry more about the death part than the injury part! As far as car versus motorcycles deaths, per mile of ridden/driven road you're much more likely to die on a motorcycle. That's only part of the story though (see below).

With that said, I look at statistics in an advisory capacity but I don't for one minute think they tell the whole story. All the time you hear about how flying is safer than riding in a car but I think that's a load of BS. You know why? Well, when I'm flying I have no control whatsoever over my fate. I didn't check the plane mechanically. I'm not flying the plane. I'm not doing anything at all other than going along for the ride and if the pilot(s) or mechanic(s) are idiots then I'm going to suffer . When I'm driving a car it's a completely different story. I can't count how many accidents I have avoided because of the quality of my machine and my awareness or skill as a driver. These are accidents other people may have surely gotten into and become part of those statistics which I am happily not a part of.

Same goes for anything. Sure I could slip and fall in the shower but you know what? I take steps to make sure that doesn't happen. I'm relatively more physically abled than most people, I recognize when I make the shower slippery, and if something is broken in a dangerous way I fix it. Most people are more lazy/sloppy than that and they are the ones that become the statistics. Yes, I do realize there are some things you can't control and anything could happen to anyone but I like to think I better my chances by being smart about things.

Regarding motorcycle deaths versus cars. What you don't see in the statistics is exactly what happened. Was the motorcyclist doing something stupid? What kind of safety gear were they wearing? Did they have any formal training? You just don't know. Even if it's the car's fault you don't really know what happened and if the situation could have been avoided by a better rider or mitigated by something else within the rider's control (like safety gear). A huge percentage of motorcycle accidents involve intoxication of the rider!

Brian's picture

Submitted by Brian (not verified) on
I've been considering a motorcycle for quite some time, and with gas prices where they are and where they are likely headed it makes it an even more compelling argument over the "I've always wanted one." I grew up riding ATVs and dirt bikes, but have never ridden a street bike. I actually stumbled across this site in my search for a good beginner bike and I like the idea of the dual sport bikes. My commute is about 20 miles each way, but it is all on a single lane road that would be fun to ride on and safer than the multi-lane/freeway commutes. I'm sure I would be fine riding this route on a bike everyday, but what concerns me is not me, but rather the other idiots on the road. Just today a big rig was blocking this road as he tried to back into a parking lot and some idiot plowed right into and under him. Clearly this person wasn't paying attention...if it wasn't a big rig but rather a motorcycle stopped at a light, the rider could be dead. That's what concerns me.
Amoryl's picture

Submitted by Amoryl on

I drive a cargo van, and I know no one sees me on the road, despite it being a big bright white van with blue and red lettering all over it. sometimes I've got to back out of parking lots or driveways and I know that thats where I'm most likely to get hit. fortunately I'm still more nimble than a big rig, and I constantly look for that idiot driver thats not paying the slightest attention so that I can pull back into the lot quickly if they come screaming down the road. I think the big difference between you on a bike, and the big rig, is that you'd not be in the situation of blocking the street. a lot of bigger trucks and SUV drivers have the "I'd rather be the hammer than the nail" mentality, as the "nail" you've got to make sure you're not in the path of the hammer, that means common sense tactics like not stopping in the middle of the road and blocking traffic, keeping yourself in a position where if the idiot behind you somehow doesn't see you stopped at the red light (or heck, even seeing the red light itself) that you can (hopefully) get out of his way, etc.. every time my van's stopped I'm constantly looking out all my windows, and checking all my mirrors searching for that idiot who's trying to kill me. the difference is, that while I'm more likely to survive in the van, I'm less likely to be able to get out of the way.

sbrambo's picture

Submitted by sbrambo on
I don't have a bike yet, just investigating the possiblity. I'm not worried about having what happened to Chris happening to me. I'm 45 and not really the sort of guy that's gonna do 100 mph in a t-shirt and shorts on the interstate. The thing that scares me is everybody else. I've been commuting about 65 miles total daily for over 20 years now. I've seen enough on the roads to force me to seriously consider the risks in commuting on a bike. I worry a lot more about somebody in their big safe SUV yappin on their phone or putting on their makeup or shaving than I do me really screwing up big. We had our son do the Driver's Edge training a couple of years ago (Great free program and I highly recommend it for anyone with a young driver in the house if you get the chance - and some of the questions the parents started coming up with were frightening in their lack of understanding of what goes on when a person is driving. This is a great site for someone like me that might be getting into it. Do keep up the great work. Maybe I'll be joining you on the roads soon!
ventouxbob's picture

Submitted by ventouxbob (not verified) on
I just bought my 4th motorbike. a bmwF650 1999. I am also an avid cyclist race bicycles tours you name it. my 2 cents. you should drive very defensivly. I have cars cut me off and take my right away from me weekly on the bicycle. I Yield!! even when in the right. You have to take responsability to make you self safe motorcycles too. I once read that in 50% of all motocycle deaths the rider was drunk or at least buzzed. so i dont drink when im on my motorcycle. not ever. GO out and buy a construction worker vest. bright green or orange. with lots of reflective material. they come in polyester. I cannot even tell I have it on. cost me 18 bucks. It can be seen from a long way of. maybe it aint cool. but from my experince crashes involving motorcycles and cars the same thing is always said they did not see the bike. SO get visable. put an extra set of lights on you bike or a pulsing light. my bmw has the black cases I have ordered a big reflective sticker for rear and sides. I am quite sure if they see me well they are much less likely to cut me off. Bye the way I ride full leathers. armored in forarm,back,elbow,shoulder. gloves with gauntlets. full face helmet. DOT and snell approved. I have a KBC and plan to upgrade to a shoei or arei. they exceed saftey standard. Case in point. my wife has a open face helmet from the old vespa we had. she wanted to go for a quick spin on my new bmw. I one have had it for a week. I said that helmet wont cut it. I bought her a full face shoei. 400 bucks. I alway say i can tell the jackass riders by what they wear. t shirt, jacket only etc etc. and ill tell you another thing the cops respect you more if you have full gear. I love putting on my gear. boots also. I sold my old sidi look to get a touring type boot soon. I love going to starbucks with the full leather out fit. Here is a true story. I had a friend i rode a suzuki sv650s great bike he had a Katana 600. i had more experiance riding years and was always a little more carful. we were going to a christmas party and Jerry my friend had no gloves and no boots (he normaly did) I say he man where are your boots and gloves? he said "if i crash I will die anyway so who cares" he did have a nice cordura jacket. 45 min later we are leaving from a mutual friend to go to the cristmas party on a 25 mph residential street he is revving his engine like mad shoing off i had a bad feeling and let him go ahead of me. well he tryed to pull a wheelie of a skid at 10mph by revving it out and dropping the clutch big time he got bucked of the bike fell bike skidded 100 feet at hit a parked car. the only parts he hurt was hands (no gloves) feet (no boots) the bike was basicly totaled and we never road again. TRICKS ARE FOR KIDS!!! man no wheelies, stoppies what ever for this rider. bob.
Dale's picture

I have rode motorcycles from 10 years old to 53 years old and stil riding. To cut on your risk factor always fully check your motorcycle out and everything is working and never ride above your skill level ! I have always rode as if Iam not seen because 9 times out of 10 they dont see you. Please wear proper clothing i dont care if your riding across the street. Making it a habit of wearing of proper clothing . Sure will save a lot of skin if you lay a motorcycle down. Trust me I know! Never pull in the middle of parking stall. because oil leaks from other vehichles will be in middle of the parking stall,making your tires slippery. Never Ride without a helmet! Most motorcycle deaths are caused by brain injury.Don't ever say it will never happen to me.In all the years I have rode my two accidents were on the street. I used to ride dirt bikes and never had accident in the dirt. If you ever get caught in a rain storm ride just to the left of center part of lane because roads are crowned all the water and oil mix be on the right hand side of lane. Main rule I live by, Dont ever get comfortable while riding expect the unexpected it can save your life! Well That is few things Ihave picked up with years of riding . These my opinions only hope they will help. P/S I say a prayer before I ride because I need all the help Ican get HAPPY RIDING
John's picture

Submitted by John (not verified) on

This is mainly to the 1st two comments. I've always loved rideing bikes. I started on my bros 600 Bandit....that was when i was 17. Im now 21 and have moved to a ninja 500r just for the gas prices. but the main reason im writing thing. about 3yrs ago i was going to work at 1a.m. I worked at a local police department at the front desk. Well i checked and and started doing my paper work when i noticed a accident report on the top of the stack. Now going back for a sec, i usualy watch the news before i head to work, just so i know if anything was going on. Well i missed it that day. So i start sorting my paperwork and i got to reading this report, it was a fatal accident involving a motorcycle. The crash had taken place at about 9pm. So, i got to looking at the names........and the one that cought my eye.....was a good friend of mine. I about lost it when i saw his name. I later found out that my phone had been off all day and no one could reach me. But, to make a long story short. He was traveling in down the highway and someone in a large SUV had turned into him from the turning lane and hit him head on at about 25mph. He was traveling about 60mph so total. So total speed was aprox. 85mph. After the colission ems was called and he was transported to the hospital. Just as a side note a friend of our was an EMT and he was the EMT that picked him up and transported him to the hospital. But, he ended up dieing in a O.R. about an hour after the accident. This hit me hard and kept me off of the bikes for a year or so. My friend was a responsible rider. Always wore his gear and rode safe. And he didnt do anything to cause the accident. But the driver of teh SUV said he didnt see him. As i said this kept me off the bike for a while but not forever. As a rider you can never know what someone is going to do. A good friend told me "Everyone on the road in a car is out to kill you" and after riding for a bit it kinda seems true. I always ride with my gear and in a group if i can help it. What im trying to say is you can never be 100% safe in anything, expecialy a motorcycle but you gota weigh your options. The bike is a good stress reliever for me the 2nd reason i got one. and i know this isnt gona change your mind, b/c it didnt change my mom's mind eather. Im writing thing just to show you a diffrent perspective on ride bikes. Hope this helps

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

There is no right or wrong answers when it comes to motorcycle riding. The mom and riders are right, and at the same time they are wrong. Riding is a matter of choice, and education is the best tool against accidents. Just doing a quick look on Wikipedia, which listed some statistics – they show riding far more dangerous than riding in a car. But one thing to remember is statistics are statistics, and they can be presented in way that the researcher desires. I was looking about getting a bike, but I think this blog has convinced me otherwise. Riding is about choices, and the risk associated with it. For me, I’m almost 32, with kids already, and twins on the way in a few months. Right now the risk is not worth it. I’ve always been afraid of riding, and if I were to ride, I would probably only want it on slow country roads with little traffic (maybe top speeds of 35-40 mph). Back to the statistics – Here’s how I look at it, and I will compare them to lotto. When I play, I only buy one ticket. If I’m going to win and get lucky, all I need is one. I do not need to buy 100 tickets to win. I know the odds are better if you buy more, but that’s just me. I feel that it’s the person that wins and the deciding factor, not the ticket. The only thing that matters is the way the numbers come out of that machine. In regards to biking – if you are going to have an accident, then you are going to have one. Maybe fatal, maybe not, but it all depends on the situation in hand. I know this is a crappy answer and comparison, but life is about risks, and some will crash, others will not. Smoking is the same way. Look at George Burns – liked to like a million, and heavily smoked, never had a problem. Others die early. It just depends on the life you have been dealt. One more statistic, and I don’t have them, but forget the car/motorcycle statistics for a second and break that down even further. How many of those fatal car crashes involved people not wearing their seatbelts? Last time I checked motorcycles did not come with standard seatbelts…. I would love to ride right now, but having a family right now is my priority, so I will sacrifice the bike because they are more important to me than the open road. To the mom… you did your best in educating your kid, raising them to make intelligence choices, but maybe you can work out a compromise by only riding during daylight and stay off the busy roads at high speeds, and riding with groups.

ilnam's picture

Submitted by ilnam on

just wondering if there are any details of Chris Young's crash. It doesn't sound like a collision, so did he just lose control? I've never ridden before, but I hope to take a class and get my license later this month or next. One thing that stands out from what I've read on this site is that crashes are expected and that sounds like a good enough reason for ATGATT. But am I so ignorant to think that an accident is avoidable in a rider's lifetime? I'm not talking about accidents that are caused by other drivers, but I've read here a couple times that it's not "if", but "when" you're going to crash. I know Ben has taken a couple minor spills, yet are these certain. I'd rather not drop myself or my bike to the pavement even once, so please tell me if I take a lesson, start off slow, and am a fundamentally sound rider I can avoid this. no? okay, then I'm for sure buying used and ATGATT!

Joseph M's picture

Submitted by Joseph M (not verified) on

Ok, not to beat a dead horse! HAHA! Sorry, couldn't resist.

I just wanted to add a little about horse riding injuries. As an Orthopedic Physiotherapist I have treated a few horse riding injuries. I think in everyones mind they are picturing someone trotting through a field and tipping off or losing their balance while jumping at relatively slow speed. The fact is, the danger associated with horse riding is the horse! Horses are tall and, unlike a motorcycle, they can behave on their own, independent of what the rider wants. I have treated people who have had concussions from falling off, fractured vertebrae in their neck from landing on their head, and I'm presently treating a lady who has a broken fibula, torn MCL, severely sprained ankle and bruised ribs. She was not going too fast but the horse got spooked, she tipped off the side, got her foot caught in the stirrups was dragged a bit and when she finally hit the ground the horse stomped on her knee and her chest. The only reason I bring this up is just to point out that there is some validity behind the stats and that at least on a motorcycle you are in complete control of what you are doing and where you have gotten yourself.

When I took the motorcycle training course they used this DVD for us where we were sitting behind the handle bars of a virtual motorcycle, driving in different situations. The scene would pause and we would be asked to identify all the potential hazards up ahead and how we plan to react to them. The scene would resume and we would get to see the action play out. It was very eye opening to realize how often hazards and dangerous situations could be avoided. Things that, yes would be someone elses fault, could be avoided if you were looking for them yourself. I am still shopping around for my first bike but I must say that just taking the motorcycle training course has made my car driving so much safer.

Keith_Indy's picture

There's a flip side of the argument. Even when you are managing the risks, you can still get hurt. Whether you're in a car, on a motorcycle, or getting out of the tub, you can have an accident. All of those could lead to death or severe injury.

You can read about my latest accident here

Full gear except for motorcycle pants (had jeans on) and I came out with friction burns on my knees, and a couple of bruises. I was scared witless from the numbing pain while I waited to be taken to the hospital. But, 2 weeks on and I've healed up fine. As soon as I get my ride back, I'll be back out on the road. Going to pick up my new helmet, jacket and m/c pants today after work.

My previous m/c accident had the same results, a couple of scrapes on both the m/c and me. That was the result of hitting a very small patch of gravel while leaning into a curve. Same situation there to, full gear, and a reasonable speed for the conditions.

The point, life isn't safe, preparation and managing your risks can only make you safer.

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

I've been planning to get a bike because my dad has cancer i don't want him to work, I'm 17 by the way, and i have been reading about motorcycles and everything and trying to keep an open mind about everything so that if you i do get a bike that way i'm well aware of the amount of risk, which from what i've read is pretty high, and i'm the kinda guy who will wear his protective gear without second thought but i still feel like i don't know everything so anything you could tell me would be great, I know i would go everywhere with my safety gear but if there any other suggestions could you inform me? thanks

Anonymous's picture

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on

Hey all,

must say i totally disagree with this particular post, and it makes me wonder whether you have riden a horse or spent any time around them. they are in short an extremely powerful, and yet ultimatly stupid animal that is easilly spooked (i do, and have riden horses and am a big fan just realistic about it) riding a horse and riding a bike are very similar in many respects, if you come off either you are highly likely to get injured and many times on both fatally, one only has to look at the guy that used to play Superman, was a paraplegic for the remainder of his life because he was thrown. people get thrown off, land on thing, get dragged along behing horses because their foot is caught in a styrup, get trampled, bitten any number of serious injuries. so i agree that statistically horse riding IS UNEQUIVICALLY more dangerous.

atleast on a motorbike your not worried about it getting spooked by an odd looking stick and going carreering across a field before being thrown onto a fence post. so i hope you can see where im coming from. i have been injured riding horses so im in a very good position to refute your point. that said i dont ride a motor bike, but i am thinking about learning. what i think is important is that you know the risks. Ben hasnt shyed away from that point that there is a lower margin for error on a bike, but has merely proved that to live life is to accept risks, the only difference is how much risk you are willing to take on.. for me i ride horses, i snow ski, snowboard, drive cars, 4wd's, and am looking at taking up kiteboarding.

the important thing is to understand that some things are inherantly more dangerous than others, and try to educate yourself well enough to avoid the common errors, and train so you know what to do in the event of a problem to as to minimise damage to you and others.


pred556's picture

Submitted by pred556 on


dhotipersad's picture

Submitted by dhotipersad on

Motorcycles are dangerous; so are knives, forks, spoons,toothbrushes, pens; riding anything is dangerous. Stats are for politicians. When they need your vote, they will trot out the stats and make their point. However, we all know stats, and also use them to stress a point here and there. In life, however, stats mean squat, when your number is up, does it matter to you if it is 1 in 1,000 or 1 in 1000000. Did your 1 come into play at number 1 or 657 or 444444444. None of that matters.
So, ride, with all the wisdom you can accumulate any which way you can. Everyone has a good point. None is any worthier than anyone else's. Settle down and take it all in. It will serve you well when you are on the road. Demonstrate your maturity to the people who are dear to you, show them that you are prepared and up to the task of taking your life in your own hands. That's what hunter gatherers still do everyday, whether on bikes or in their cars, or snowplows, with or without guns, knives, armoured or naked.
MSF courses teach you the basics, you teach yourself the rest. It's up to you to risk what you want to learn more.
I am not a biker yet, just gathering as much info as possible. Hoping to take my test soon, and jump (WHAT!) on a 250.
Good job to the moderator, you are doing it well when you can stimulate so much discussion.

ipodslinger's picture

Submitted by ipodslinger on

Well I feel for you and it sounds like a terrible crash. But dude you were going 100mph with no gear. Complacent is definitely an understatement.
Even between 70-90 is to fast for the conditions. At Night with Shorts and a T-Shirt.
If someone reads your article and gets past the first line without questioning your speed, they shouldn't be riding a bike.
Safety is everything on the street and hwy.
Please, if you read this and say, awww what a pussy! Go directly outside and put a padlock on your Garage Door. Because you shouldn't be on the bike anyway.
Good Luck All

kevinanchi's picture

Submitted by kevinanchi on

I'll be honest and admit that I am going to be looking for answers that highlight how overblown these concerns are, but I want to know the truth either way. I know I will regret not getting a bike for the rest of my life. Hard facts to prove that they are irrefutably not worth the risk is the only thing that will change my mind.

Geoffrey's picture

Submitted by Geoffrey (not verified) on

My Son rides a Honda 250 Reflex at college. He is a very skilled and attentive rider but I tell him constantly to not lose the "edge". Think all the time, no matter what. As riders of motorcycles we are all "prey" to the drivers.


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