Accidents Involving Large Motorcycles Increases: Why Middle-aged and Elderly Riders Can’t Turn the Corner Completely?

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Recently, accidents involving middle-aged and older riders have become noticeable again.

On the afternoon of the 2nd, a man in his 50s was killed when his large motorcycle crashed on a prefectural road in Ishikawa Prefecture. The scene was a gentle curve and he was touring with a friend. The police are investigating the cause of the accident, believing that the man was unable to complete the curve and fell over.

In the afternoon of the same day 2, there was an accident involving two large motorcycles on a prefectural road in Komagane City, Nagano Prefecture. At the scene of the accident, a 66-year-old man crashed into a guardrail on a left-hand curve and ran off the road, dying. A 50-year-old man riding behind him also fell and was seriously injured. According to the police, the man was touring with more than a dozen of his friends and is believed to have been unable to complete the curve and crashed.

Accidents increase after age 55.

According to the "2019 Motorcycle Market Trend Survey" compiled by JAMA, the average age of new motorcycle buyers in 2019 will reach 54.7 years old, and the population is getting older every year. There seems to be a connection between motorcycle accidents and the aging of the population.

There is some interesting data on the number of accidents by age in the United States*1. According to this report, the accident rate peaks once in the early twenties and then bottoms out around the age of 55, but accidents increase at an accelerated rate after the age of 60. The same trend is seen among bus drivers, who are also occupational drivers.

We can see a composition in which young people have many accidents due to inexperience and overconfidence in their driving skills, and then as they gain experience, the number of accidents decreases, but as the decline due to aging becomes greater, the number of accidents increases. Although these are based on a survey of four-wheeled vehicles, it can be said that they are also useful for two-wheeled vehicles in terms of the relationship between accidents and age.

* Note 1 Source: "Traffic Psychology" by Kazumi Renge/Nozomi Mukai

You don't need to force yourself to get into a bigger motorcycle.

Age-related decline. This is an inevitable physiological phenomenon that comes to all of us. The day when you can no longer do the things you could do yesterday will come for everyone. Therefore, we have no choice but to accept it. It is important to have a proper understanding of one's declining self and to make efforts to continue riding safely and happily.

If a corner you used to be able to negotiate normally suddenly becomes uncomfortable, it could be a sign of weakness. For example, changing to a motorcycle that's easier to ride could be a good idea. If you've been riding a high-performance 1000cc-class large-displacement motorcycle, you might want to downsize to a 600cc-class motorcycle, or rediscover the joy of riding a lightweight, compact 250cc-class motorcycle.

As you get older, you eat less. There's no need to force yourself to keep riding a large motorcycle.

Make it a habit to look at the center of the circle.

There is a scene that I often see at the school that I lead. On the other hand, middle-aged and older riders, even experienced ones, tend to be unable to look ahead. I think this is due to the fact that their bodies are less flexible and they are less able to turn their heads.

There is an unwritten rule that says "the motorcycle goes where you look," but especially in a corner, you need to keep your eyes on the end of the turn or you won't be able to turn it. This is especially true when the speed increases. It is natural to say, "Reduce your speed," but what should you do to look ahead? It's hard to get people to understand just "look ahead!", so I advise them to "look at the center of the circle" as a specific method in the school.

The training is to have the rider circle around the pylon at low speed, always looking at the center of the circle. When you do this, the rider will be looking directly at the side of the road, which means that you will be looking 90 degrees ahead. If the corner is a tight turn, you can exaggerate to the point of looking at the exit.

By learning with your body, you will naturally develop the habit of looking beyond the corner. The older you get, the less you learn, which is why you should do it over and over again.

I beg to refuse faster is better.

In addition, looking at examples of accidents, it is noticeable that they occur in a touring destination with friends. If you're riding alone, you're not going to push yourself too hard, but if you're riding in a group, you're going to get caught up in the pace of the people around you, or you're going to try to keep up with them at a speed you wouldn't normally go at in order to keep up with them. Motorcycling is supposed to be a hobby, not a game, and touring is supposed to be fun, not competitive. Riders' self-control is always being tested.

The responsibility of the touring leader is also heavy. I have participated in several touring events organized by motorcycle shops, but unfortunately, there were many cases where the staff leading the touring events were too aggressive. They are motorcycle professionals, and their mission is to get everyone home safely, but what do they do when they cause accidents themselves?

I would like everyone who participates to carefully assess the qualifications of the touring leader. If there is an atmosphere of "faster is better", you can clearly say "please go ahead". If you see people bragging about their speed, give them a gentle warning. Let's enjoy the scenery a little more leisurely.

So, I know many of you are making touring plans for this summer vacation, and I hope you will spend it safely and with a smile on your face.

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