Originally Posted by Bobnoxous
That's the million $ question. How do you balance freedom with safety? How much cost and force of law is justified to save a life? No life has infinite value, and no life is completely worthless (although I think a few people get close).
But I find this utilitarian approach a moot point. It's not just a question of what the results are. There are individual liberties people should have, and they shouldn't be taken away, through the violence of law, for their own or someone else's good. There has to be a better way.
Are you saying that as a society, we shouldn't have rules that require people to be trained before they engage in an activity that could injure or kill others? If they want to kill themselves, that's their business, but others?
Just like standard driver training for an automobile is not adequate for driving a Tractor-trailer rig, it's not adequate for a motorcycle. That's why there are different endorsements on your driver license. Different vehicles require different training.
With any activity there is risk. If a person is aware of the risk and decides to perform the activity anyway, I believe that the individual made an informed decision. However, if an individual has no idea of the risk, while it may be Darwin in action, it is not an informed decision. Part of knowing what the risk can be is knowing what your skill level is while on a motorcycle.
How many new riders know how to corner properly? How many know how to swerve? Brake without locking up the rear brake? (I know...BMWs don't have to worry about that!) What to do if they DO lock the rear brake? If they are trained properly, they know the basics of accident avoidance. Granted, newly trained riders aren't perfect, but at least they have the basic knowledge and can put it into practice to minimize their, and other peoples risk.
I understand the growing pains of inadequate infrastructure. But it is possible. I've only coached 3 classes here in the Detroit Metro area this year, but I've trained over 200 students. We have an average of 72 students for a one weekend BRC. We'll run two ranges and have 24 students per range. We split them into two groups of 12. We run exercises 1-5 on the first group...switch...run 1-5 on the second group...switch again....etc. It makes for some LONG days, but we do it all the time. For a 2 weekend BRC, we can have as many as 144 students with 4 ranges and 3 groups. And we have more than 8 community colleges where we train.
The Detroit-Metro Regional Consortium Motorcycle Safety Education Program trains several thousand students every year. The cost is $25.00. That's not a typo. $25.00. The State of Michigan subsidizes the classes. The money comes from motorcycle license fees and grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Now, I've said this before on this board, and I'll more than likely say it again. I have been an undertaker for 10+ years, and an avid motorcyclist for over 30. Reviewing my personal records, in the decade that I have been caring for the dead, I have had 21 motorcycle related fatalities. Each and every one is a tragedy for the family and friends they leave behind. And each one left a mark on me as well.
So let me share with all of you my totally unscientific observations of these 21 deaths.
According to the death certificates:
17 had been drinking
8 were under the age of 25
9 were over 40
4 were between 25 and 40
According to what I learned from family and friends:
7 of 8 that were under 25 were on sport bikes, 1 on a dirt bike.
15 were single vehicle accidents....just the bike. No car, truck or van. Just trees, guard rails, and 2 were deer collisions. Most common cause of the crash: Failure to negotiate a curve.
Of the 7 crashes that DID involve another vehicle, it was the classic case of “they just didn’t see the bike,” and in 4 of those cases the driver of the other vehicle was on a cell phone.
The 4 that were between 25 and 40 were all on Harleys.
6 of the 9 that were over 40 were on some kind of touring bike.
But the most important “statistic” of all: 15 out of 21 did not have an endorsement on their license (which implies that they didn't have formal training), and out of the 6 that did have an endorsement, no one....not one person had taken any kind of formal training.
Just food for thought. I'll get off my soapbox now.