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Thread: Let's Talk Motorcycle Safety

  1. #21
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    Dominican Motorcycle safety = Oxymoron...

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  3. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADV Moto View Post
    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:


    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.
    Your mention of Persig's book brought back a lot of memories. Read it years ago and it help me lay the mental groundwork for years of safe riding. Thanks for that. Great post too!

  4. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by zoomzx11 View Post
    Great thread. I rode all my life and my first bike was a BSA 650. I have owned nearly every fast bike made. Always liked being king of the hill. Only one Hardly Davidson as they are too big too heavy and too slow. Favorite was zx1100, fastest was Hayabusa. Rode in Ca., NY and Fl. Lots of miles, lots of close calls. Took the safety courses and became intetested in safety. I invested in full protective gear and the best full fsce helmets. Majority of misses for me with cars not seeinge and turning left in my path. Riding a motorcycle safely is very difficult in the US and impossible in the DR. Its like the wild west on the roads here. Add in alcohol, no 911 system, very poor hospital care and its near suicidal. In the US I always changed out my headlight for one of those ilegal super bright bulbs. If I left it on hi beam for very long it would melt the plastic lens. Ditto for tail light and they blinked. I feel lucky to have survived riding in the US. From time to time I get the itch but common sense kicks in and saves me. These days its a big vehicle, ice cold ac, and dark tinted windows with an icy Presidente jumbo. Besides its hard to drink beer on a bike, especially, if you are being dafe and wearing a helmet. Just my two cents. Dont let me stop you from having fun on Dominican highways and good luck.
    After 9 years and over 50,000 miles riding here all over, I will state clearly and without equivocation that after adapting to Dominican road culture I feel safer here than I ever did in the states.

    And there are specific reasons for this, some of which you outline.
    • Because, in general, sidestreets are not paved, the probability of a vehicle entering the road in front of you is greatly reduced. Vehicles have to creep forward until their tires touch the raised pavement on the main road, preventing a sudden dash in front of you.
    • We don't have the soccer mom in the minivan texting, putting on make-up while tossing Burger Doodles to the screaming spawn in the back seat. Inattention can be a killer, even for a few seconds.
    • You are seen. This is a motorcycle culture. Everyone either owns a moto, their family owns a moto, they grew up on a moto, or everyone they know has one. The entire driving culture centers around motorcycles and everyone sees them on the streets. Certainly, some drivers just don't care and represent a hazard, but that's a different topic altogether. But being seen is 75% of the safety game.

    Let me add some comments about being seen, specifically regarding your comments. That's one of the most important risk mitigators one can assume vis-a-vis safety. I'm sure I'm not the only person in the DR that's had a close call smashing into a moto because it was dark, the bike had no lights, and the rider was wearing dark clothing. I've had several "Oh Sh!t---where did HE come?" from moments. Why? I couldn't see him even though I was aware such a situation can happen anytime. The ONLY solutions to this, as a rider who embraces safety, is to employ tools that help you be seen, including:
    • Making sure the lights on your bike are always on. Bikes destined for most markets have the headlights on by default, and you can't turn them off. This is a good thing. In fact, when an approaching vehicle flashes their light at you, telling you "your lights are on", consider that a WIN!, because he just told you you're seen. That's the point.
    • Wear hi-vis gear. Numerous studies show that hi-vis gear reduces accidents where the rider is not at fault. When I see a fat cruiser guy all dressed up in his black Pirate costume, I just SMDH. It's just screaming "Image is more important than my life." Study after study shows certain hi-vis colors stand out and attract the eyes in a reflective response for the brain to sort out what it is. Seems hi-vis yellow is top on the list, followed by hi-vis light green, then orange and red. There is science behind this, but I can't remember what iit all is; fact is hi-vis gear is seen. In my case, my helmet id hi-vis yellow and can be literally be easily seen over a mile away, whereas other riders are more difficult to deterimine. But it accomplishes what is intended: getting seen. It's very rare, post crash, for a driver to say "I didn't see him" with a rider wearing hi-vis, but much too common for those in Pirate costumes. And frankly, I could care less what folks think of hi-vis; peer pressure is waaay down the list when it comes to pain avoidance.
    • In the states, put a headlight & taillight modulator on your bike. You alluded to this. On the headlight modulators switch between low and high beams every half second or so, drawing attention from oncoming traffic, and taillight modulators flash the brakelights, slower to fast, when brakes are applied, drawing the attention of vehicles behind you; a serious risk is being hit from behind by a vehicle not paying attention.


    BTW: you ARE aware that drinking and driving in the DR is illegal, right? You're OK at putting others at risk? Note that 75% of motorcycle accidents involve alcohol, and not just the rider.

    One more note: I avoid riding in urban areas if possible. And when I have to, added precautions are necessary for safe navigation. It's just no fun on a larger motorcycle.

  5. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuillermoRamon View Post
    Dominican Motorcycle safety = Oxymoron...
    Certainly opinions vary.

    There is a difference between opinions developed through many years of experience and those of casual observers.

  6. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADV Moto View Post
    Certainly opinions vary.

    There is a difference between opinions developed through many years of experience and those of casual observers.
    Excessive speeds, drunk driving, no helmets, no headlights at night, and doing all that while going the wrong way on a one way street. You can be the best motorcycle driver on the planet, with an arsenal of the previous noted drivers making up the bulk of whats on the roads, your stats are good for getting hit in the good 'ole R.D.

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  8. #26
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    I get asked a lot: "What brand helmet should I buy?"

    Let's begin with this: all helmets are not the same in design, style, fit & finish, weight and certification.

    First and foremost, you need, at minimum, a DOT helmet, and you need to see the DOT certificate. There are manufacturers in Asia that put a DOT sticker on a helmet when it's not DOT certified. So ask for the DOT certificate. A helmet with ECE and/or Snell is preferred, but it should be DOT at minimum.

    Then comes the hard part: finding the right *shape* of helmet, since every manufacturer is different, and a helmet that doesn't fit your head properly is distracting...and distractions can kill you. A great article on helmet fit is on one of my go-to objective motorcycle product review websited, webBikeWorld.com. They developed a list of helmets of different shapes (may be somewhat outdated) based on the Hohenstein Institute Head Shape Study The full article: wBW Motorcycle Helmet Reviews Sorted by Internal Shape

    Additionally, one of my ATF online retailers, Revzilla does a fine job of describing the helmet buying process in this video:


    Revzilla has an excellent article on buying a helmet here: Revzilla Motorcycle Helmet Buying Guide

    So now we've determined the certification and proper internal fit and size. Now one needs to determine what features they want and at what cost. Note: you don't have to buy a $900 Arai helmet to get great head protection. There are numerous brands who offer a fine product at a much more modest cost.

    Since this thread focuses on safety, IMO there is only one choice: full face. Anything less is a serious risk based on actual statistics of head injuries in an accident. I recognize this may not please the Pirate riders out there, but it is what it is.

    Within the full-face group, there are fixed face and and flip-face (modular.) Each has it's own plusses and minuses.

    Fixed face: (+) solid unit, no-compromise safety, quite, light; (-) poor ventilation, can be difficult putting on and taking off, difficult to communicate when wearing.
    Modular: (+) well ventilated, easy on and off, flexiblility, cooler when open, easy to communicate; (-) low possibility of compromised safety in a crash---although no statistics bear this out, heavier, more wind noise, numerous moving parts.

    There are numerous features one may choose in a helmet with some safety considerations:
    • Ventilation: some helmets ventilate better than others. A helmet with great ventilation is important is a warm climate like the DR, but could be extremely uncomfortable in a colder climate. Vice versa for poor ventilation. Keep in mind: any equipment that is a distraction reduces safety.
    • Strap mechanism: some have D-rings and a snap, others have a quick clip.
    • Faceshield: there are different colors and varying degrees of opacity. All are compromises-a dark shield woks well in bright sunlight, but reduces vision in shade and darker days, and seriously compromise safety at night. Clear can be blinding in sunlight without sunglasses.
    • Integral flip sunshield: this is a newer feature that has really become popular. I will state that I'll never have a helmet without it. It allows me to have a clear faceshield and when I ride into bright sunlight a quick flip of a slider on the left side of my helmet (for my left/clutch hand) drops "sunglasses" over my eyes. Great feature.
    • Graphics: many helmets come with cool multi-colored graphics, and arw available in hi-vis colors.
    • Air support: some helmets have a small air bladder in the lining with a small rubber bulb bulb pump that allows customization in fit around the lower areas of the helmet, a nice feature some find not really that necessary.
    • Weight: depending on the design and materials, helmets can vary in weight. A heavy helmet on a rider that smaller may increase fatigue and compromise safety. That is not as much a consideration on a larger, stronger rider. Additionally, there seems to be some link to fatigue based on the weight of a helmet and proper fit. Seems with a properly fitted helmet helmet the weight is a non-starter, but your results may vary as usual.
    • Bluetooth adapter: Bluetooth communicators & internal speakers for music are becoming more popular, and helmet manufacturers are adding plugs that fit most models. Most medium to higher cost helmets have them. Nice but not necessary

    So it's all about preference, really, and how you ride. If I ride a sports bike or raced, I'd use a fixed face helmet. If I ride as a cruiser or ADV rides, I'd use a modular. But that's just me. My current (3 yr. old) helmet that fit my needs here in the DR for my riding missions and style is a Scorpion EXO900 Transformer in hi-vis yellow, around $300. If you see a large human on a large motorcycle with a bright yellow helmet on the roads of the DR, it's probably me:


    Since helmet styles and features change so often, I don't know what my next hat will be, although I've had excellent results with Scorpion. It will be hi-vis without a doubt.

  9. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by GuillermoRamon View Post
    Excessive speeds, drunk driving, no helmets, no headlights at night, and doing all that while going the wrong way on a one way street. You can be the best motorcycle driver on the planet, with an arsenal of the previous noted drivers making up the bulk of whats on the roads, your stats are good for getting hit in the good 'ole R.D.
    It's clear you aren't a motorcyclist.

    The reason for the existence of this thread is to offer thoughts and skills to mitigate the risks of what many enjoy as a fantastic lifestyle, and to offer safety strategies to DR1ers who are considering joining the ranks of Motorcyclists.

    I've got over 50,000 miles on motorcycles riding all over the island with few incidents that were out of my control.

    It is indeed a long journey to change the current riding culture as you describe, but that journey, as a wise man once opined, begins with a single step. In the meantime, focusing on safety in this one small island on the internet may save a DR1er some future pain, and this thread will be a success.

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  11. #28
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    My advice for anyone looking for motorcycle safety on these roads? Avoid riding them.

  12. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by CristoRey View Post
    My advice for anyone looking for motorcycle safety on these roads? Avoid riding them.
    Doctor, I concur.

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  14. #30
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    I have not had any accidents on my ATV or Moto here but would I ever want anyone I cared about riding one here???!! NO WAY!!

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