Motorcycle Risk Management Focus on Riders

Rider Risk Management on MOTORESS
Rider Risk Management

Further in my research and experience as a motorcycle instructor, findings bring forth the need not only for good operational skills by motorcyclists but the management of the risks involved. Motorcycling for women riders or men today, is a hobby full of risks.  Motorcycle risk management focus for riders falls in line with other hazardous hobbies, such as mountain climbing, sky-diving and white water rafting the attraction is completely in the activity. Within motorcycling the motivation of the motorcyclist can be set into various groups distinguishable by how and/ or what they ride.

Rider’s Lust for the Sportier Field

Let’s call them “Group A”.

These motorcyclists can be characterised by their lust for the sportier field including such aspects as:

  • Desire to drive fast – want the full on speed effect
  •  Enjoy speed and cornering
  •  A ‘show-off’ in traffic
  •  Always wants to be better and faster than other bikers
  •  Seeks the thrills that riding at the limit provides.

The second “Group-B” is characterised by:

  •  The need for riding pleasure
  •  Riding for a strengthening of self-esteem
  •  Aspects such as joy and pleasure are taken in a riding role
  •  A desire to totally immerse in the activity of riding
  •  Want to forget the everyday concerns of life
  •  True enthusiast with the desire to be known as a buddy within a motorcycle group.

 “Group-C” an be considered the safety/skill enthusiasts:

  •  Personal goals such as demonstrating their own safe behaviour in the activity
  •  A manner of riding aimed at avoiding accident to themselves or the machine
  •  The aim for perfect control.
  •  Likely to take on an instructor role

Motorcyclists have long been reputed as a non-uniform group of people where individual motivations to go motorcycling are quite different.

This means there are also various types of motorcycles on the market such as:

  • Classic or standard motorcycle which features basic equipment for shorter journeys, generally upright riding style.
  • Sportbike, the sporty racer style; lighter weight bikes used for performance and racing on asphalt; slanted or leaned forward riding position.
  • Touring motorcycle with comprehensive ability and features to endure greater distances
  • Duo sport/enduro combining off-road riding or motorcycling over tougher terrains
  • Choppers for short distance riding and simply as a custom trophy bike.
  • Cruisers- for standard ‘cruising’ – long or short distance relaxed riding

Since there are various forms of motorcycles this brings different styles of riding personalities with each form.

Such As:

  • Defensive, easy-going
  • Carefree, happy, fun.
  • Moderate sport, enjoys performance but not overdone
  • Sporty (racing), competitive attitude

Personal riding style, though not entirely, has a lot to do with the type of engine the rider is controlling. This includes the behaviour of motorcyclist over her/himself and towards other road users. This can be explained on the basis of a decision-making process: drivers must be aware of negative consequences (in extreme cases, an accident) and the usefulness of risky behaviour weighed against each other in motorcycle risk management.

Danger Depends Largely on the Experience and Skill Set of the Motorcyclist

The assessment of negative consequences, in particular danger, depends largely on the experience and skill set of the motorcyclist. This assessment is primarily driven by the degree in which it is deemed ‘life’ threatening. The willingness to take risks increases with the degree in which it is level to the value of life and the (sometimes erroneous) judgement of danger to the situation. Lack of skills and the willingness to stay alive, believe it or not, in younger drivers represent the biggest risk factors! It’s this desperate panic without ability which is harmful. And even observing defensive rider training exercises you can see that these two factors also affect the behaviour of experienced motorcyclists.

Motorcycle Risk Management is About Behaviour Factors

There are several reasons to believe that these two factors affect the behaviour of motorcyclists on the road, including an analysis of the influences on the creation of various accidents. Therefore, you can understand that particularly in single vehicle accidents, these are a result of losing your appetite, so to speak, for safety and lacking in the practical experience.

I have furthermore observed that riders with a sportier engine or with a sport style of riding score higher in overall accident statistics. There are three reasons for this:

  1. Safe riding begins with the identification of the existence of risks. The bikers can then adjust their riding behaviour, in the sense that it allows for the fact that people and property are at stake.
  2. Estimate of the risk. This is a skill that must be learned. By experience you’ll be able to assess risk better. For example, by not wearing insufficient protective clothing while riding – you’ll have no idea of the risks this results until serious injury or when you have an accident – and if you survive it.
  3. Risk recognition. You cannot deal with risks if you don’t recognise them. There are two types of risks: subjective and objective. Subjective has to do with behaviour and attitude of a biker. Objective is determined by environmental factors, other vehicles and road conditions.

Risk management must be a logical consequence of your behaviour. There are many other factors, such as weather, condition/state of your motorcycle and its components, health, etc. Some motorcyclists manage risks instinctively. In principle it is something which is entrusted in each one of us – it’s our natural defences against undesirable situations.

Attitude and disposition of the motorcyclist may have an influence on how she/he deals with risk. A positive attitude and the grasp of how to avoid accidents from occurring and the ability to resolve problems will pretty much always score a good result when it comes to reducing and avoiding risks.

**The risk factors are categorised as human factors, vehicle factors and environment factors. Knowing risk factors, one can develop countermeasures to improve traffic safety for motorcyclists. In Belgium, like other European countries, legislation about certain countermeasures is a fact. But we find gaps in issues like alcohol use, licensing and training. The increased attention for the subject and the resulting efforts may lead to positive outcomes. Future studies about the motorcyclists profile and risk factors are promising.

Vicki Gray

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