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Thread: Let's Talk Motorcycle Safety

  1. #1
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    Default Let's Talk Motorcycle Safety

    They are everywhere, those damn motorcycles. Buzzing around like "nats" (sic), hated by foreigners but infused into the "Dominiculture" every bit as much as rice and beans.

    They are going nowhere. In fact, over time we'll see more of them. Yes, they can be annoying, no doubt. But for better or worse, they are a part of the Dominican street petrie dish. If one wants a successful life in the DR, one must achieve acceptance and peace with them.

    But the stratospheric issue well beyond mere annoyance is the human & societal damage motorcycle accidents are causing. According to the Ministry of Health, from data I have collected for myself, the economic cost of motorcycle accidents is enormous:

    83% of all traffic accidents involve motorcycles
    80% of those accidents happen at night
    65% of all motorcycle accidents involve alcohol
    Motorcycle accidents are the #1 cause of death for Dominican men 16-25
    Motorcycle accidents cost the Dominican health system over RD$1.3 BILLION a year

    And this list does not include the thousands of survivors with brain damage or permanent paralysis. We don't see them because his abuela, madre y hermana are taking care of him at home, unable to leave the casa.

    Expats and tourists are not immune from this carnage as we read about motorcycle accidents, injuries and deaths within that group regularly. This should come as no surprise because motorcycles and pasolas often become the preferred transportation for them.

    There are few places on earth with better motorcycling than the DR. The weather is great, we have some of the most awesome roads on the planet---especially being a smaller island--- and there just isn't anything quite like the feeling of freedom riding a motorcycle in Paradise provide.

    Robert Persig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, said it best:
    In a car you're always in a compartment, and because you're used to it you don't realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You're a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

    On a cycle the frame is gone. You're completely in contact with it all. You're in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.
    I advocate the awesomeness of riding here with one caveat: with the Ying of spectacular motorcycling comes the Yang of the simple fact you're on your own and are fully responsible for your personal safety, health and life.

    I post this with the goal of creating an ongoing "open thread" for the purpose of talking motorcycle safety. I hope experience riders and motorcycle safety advocates participate and share their experiences. My intent is for less experienced riders to gain knowledge, new riders to develop a solid safety base and to keep us all from becoming an unfortunate statistic.

    Motorcycling is a life-long passion, once infected you can never shake it. It's an epic activity but can be very unforgiving in an instant of inattention or lapse of good judgment.

    Crashing hurts---if you survive. Let's discuss the best ways to avoid that pain by controlling what we can with knowledge, debunking of myths, risk management and safety considerations. Let's control what we can control, and mitigate what we can't.

    Let's not be a statistic.

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  3. #2
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    Default Key Components of Motorcycle Safety

    Motorcycle safety is a multi-layered topic. Like discussing "what's the best oil for my bike", it's easy to get a discussion on motorcycle safety diluted and off-track with anecdotes, biases and myths.

    Certainly the best suggestion is to take a formal Motorcycle Safety course, but even some of those aren't comprehensive, and the reason for existence can be hidden. For instance the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, developed after the Hurt Report was published in 1981, is funded by motorcycle manufacturers who have a bias toward more people passing their state proficiency test for their motorcycle endorsement with the goal toward selling more motorcycles.

    Certainly the MSF courses are vastly superior to no training at all, and I've personally benefitted from their Basic and Advanced Courses. But recent personal conversation with the legendary Lee Parks, founder of Total Control Advanced Riding Clinic and former editor and chief test rider of Motorcycle Consumer News, offers a different take:
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Parks
    I don't care if any motorcycles are sold. I'm not disappointed when a rider fails our course. Our goal isn't to pass the state exam or give a waiver certificate. Our goal is to prevent crashes, period, and give riders real-world skills adaptable to the street. Everyone who pays attention and applies what we teach ups his odds of avoiding an accident."
    I asked Lee what kind of skills he preaches to prevent crashes. His response:
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Parks
    Among other skills we emphasize braking and not the kind with ABS, but rider controlled braking & reaction time in a panic situation. At 45mph, the average braking reaction and stopping time is 3.27 seconds and 128 feet. If we can shave that to 2.8 seconds and save 31 feet, that more than two car lengths. That could be the difference between being scared sh!tless and a visit by the EMT's. That's the goal.
    As it should be. We hope to bring Lee's Total Control Level 1 course to the Dominican Republic.

    In a nutshell, motorcycle safety can be broken down into four components:

    Training
    Skills
    Equipment
    Attitude

    All are equally important and we can discuss them separately.

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  5. #3
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    One of the greatest scourges in the DR is unregulated motorcycles. They are a menace and yet an economic form of mobility for many working people.
    A great source of income for the forces of order (Giggle,love the name-'Forces of Order'!), and an expression of youthful freedom to auto-annihilate and population control,thus helping the Darwinist balance,unless precocious breeding has already occurred.

    I hate them all,
    with a vengeance!

    But have to admit that a solution is not yet available and an alternative form of cheap public transport (and injury) is not easily foreseen.

    Loud pipes save lives!

    Yeah,right!
    Learning to drive a motorcycle properly would be preferable....

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    Default Motorcycle Hats

    Let's talk equipment. Equipment means the motorcycle itself, it's components, accessories and rider gear.

    How about we talk about rider safety gear. How about helmets first, not a discussion about helmet laws, but the why's and what's and types of wearing a bike hat.

    First of all, some physics: the head is the heaviest, most dense body part. Newton's First Law of Motion states:
    Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.
    His Second Law of Motion states:
    The relationship between an object's mass m, its acceleration a, and the applied force F is F=ma. Acceleration and force are vectors; in this law the direction of the force vector is the same as the acceleration vector.
    So what does this mean about helmets?

    Easy: in a crash the head, being heavy, will keep moving until acted on by an outside force. That force can be either the neck or some object with a greater mass. If it's the neck that stops the motion, damage can be anything from strain to paralysis. But if it's a hard object like the ground, a curb, a tree or a car...well the damage can be problematic to say the least.

    I know very few riders who have had a non-parking lot off where their head did not hit something. And fact is, sooner or later we'll all have a crash whether minor or major. I know in my 3 crashes, in each one my head hit the ground, and twice hard enough to cause helmet damage.

    From a safety perspective, I cannot imaging riding a motorcycle with wearing a helmet any more than I can imagine riding in a car without a seat belt.

    And without question the best protection possible for your noggin' is a full-face helmet with a minimum of DOT certification. I know many who don't wear a full-face with all manner of reasons, most just myths" "I can't hear, they are too hot, I don't like looking like a Power Ranger, a shorty is plenty of helmet, they aren't cool looking, etc. Heard the all.

    But consider this graphic generated by a compilation of actual head injuries based on the study by Dettmar Otte, MSc, et. al:


    Based on that graphic, 45.3% of all motorcycle head injuries happen to the face and jaw areas---"face plants"---while only 7.3% happen to the top crown area!

    So clearly, unless a rider is unaware of the actual statistics of head injuries in a motorcycle crash, not all helmets are created equally. So when you put on that peanut shell skull cap for a ride, you have a 92.7% probability of head damage in a crash. If you only wear a 3/4 helmet, that number drops to 54.7%.

    It's your head. What do you think YOUR odds are...and are they worth it?

    I personally wear a "modular" helmet, i.e. a helmet where the chin bar flips up from a locking mechanism also known as "flip-face.". I've seen no studies comparing potential injuries between a full-face and flip-face helmet, but it's a risk I'm willing to accept because when locked, it's a full-face helmet.

    Helmets come with different certifications regarding crash-worthiness. These are:

    Snell: the top certification allows an impact up to 300g's with an anvil-shaped hammer. Critical head injuries would occur at 250-275g's. Snell doesn't offer much allowance for shock absorbing helmets and focuses on the shell. This is a voluntary certification and can be most expensive to achieve, so it's usually only seen in expensive lines of helmets such as Arai and Shoei.

    ECE R22.05: the European standard and a top certification, tests helmets up to 275g's with allowances for shock absorption. Most major racing associations require ECE R22.05 certification, and it's mandatory for helmets sold in Europe.

    DOT: The Department of Transportation standard with tests up to 250-275g's that protect heads in 90% of accidents.

    There are numerous studies that show helmets with any of those certifications offer significant protection over no helmet and non-certified helmets, but no studies that show any difference between injuries between the expensive Snell and the ECE/DOT certifications.

    I personally wear a DOT/ECE modular helmet by Scorpion that cost approx $300 at discount retailers.

    One comment I hear are "A full face is too hot." But with modern materials, design and engineering most full-face helmets offer decent ventilation, and only seem warm in stopped urban traffic on a hot day, and then I just raise the face shield for more comfort.

    I hear "They are uncomfortable and a hassle to wear sun glasses." Good comment and one I can appreciate. But again with design and engineering, many helmets now have flip-down sun screens build in that mane you don't need to wear sun glasses. Mine does, and the flip-down sun shields are a feature that I will always have in future helmets, period. They are that good.

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    The first myth is that to learn how to ride them, you need to go fast!
    Big mistake!

    It just makes the spill nastier and more dangerous.
    One Dominican at a time please!


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    do you also sell helmets?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Derfish View Post
    do you also sell helmets?
    I've been in an accident (combination of slippery leaves on a curvy wet road while riding on new tires), and everything he said about helmets is true. All The Gear, All The Time. Period.
    Off-Topic Forum
    DR1 moderator


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    Quote Originally Posted by PICHARDO View Post
    The first myth is that to learn how to ride them, you need to go fast!
    Big mistake!

    It just makes the spill nastier and more dangerous.
    But you don't need to go slow either. Most Dominican motos ride along in the gutter just waiting to be forced off the road by another vehicle who wishes to overtake, but not leaving enough room.

    I would prefer to be riding at the same speed as the traffic in my own piece of the road, a quarter of the width from the centre line. Plus if you are in the middle of the road and a pothole is ahead, you have both left or right options to avoid. If you are in the gutter, you only have one option.

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    im a peanut shell vietnamese plastic for my small run to errands....and a full dot older for rides....

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    A couple of years ago I was in my Geo Tracker about halfway between Sosua and Cabarete at night and took a curve. Coming at me were a pair of trucks taking up the whole road, I jogged to the right and hit a motorcyclist who had no lights neither fore nor aft. He wobbled , but didn't go down. I flagged him down and gave him 1000 pesos and told him to buy a tail light or a coffin which ever he thought more appropriate, but I didn't wish to participate in his suicide.
    Der Fish

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