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The Effects of Alcohol On Motorcycle Riding

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) reports that an estimated 46% of motorcycle riders who lose their lives in crashes have alcohol in their system when they die. Riding and drinking has been a problem for decades. However, this dangerous combination has increased dramatically over the years, as motorcycle festivals, bar hopping and other alcohol-invested activities become more popular with riding clubs. While there are many safety-oriented, responsible riders on the road, statistics show that alcohol-related motorcycle accidents are still a serious problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in deadly crashes, motorcyclists are 2.5 times more likely than passenger vehicle drivers to have been drinking. Within the past decade, drinking and driving involving passenger vehicle drivers has declined by approximately 6%. Simultaneously, motorcyclist drinking and driving has increased by 10%.

Road Hazards

Structurally, motorcycles pose a much greater risk of crashing than cars due to their smaller size and lack of protection that automobile passenger compartments provide. Under the best conditions, the less stable nature of motorcycles makes them more susceptible to unexpected road hazards such as rough roads, slick or uneven surfaces, darting animals, and blind spots of other drivers. With the effects of alcohol on perception, balance, and reaction time, and the impaired judgement caused by alcohol consumption, drinking and riding substantially increases the risk of serious injury or death.

How Much is Too Much?

The legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit across the United States is 0.08% grams/deciliter. However, the MSF approximates that even the smallest amount of alcohol in a rider’s system multiplies the risk of a crash by five. MSF statistics also show that, at a BAC of 0.05%, a rider’s crash risk is forty times greater. The University of Minnesota’s Center for Transportation Studies examined motorcycle riders’ abilities on a controlled test course. Researchers found that, after only one or two drinks, riders exhibited decreased abilities and difficulty ‘self-regulating.’

Effects of Alcohol on Inhibition

As riders’ judgments become impaired with as little as a 0.01% BAC, inhibitions tend to diminish. The alcoholic buzz translates to a false sense of security and confidence that many motorcyclists have described as ‘thrilling.’ Sensory stimuli from alcohol’s effect on neurotransmitters adds to this feeling. This lack of inhibition can become habitual, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The group conducted a survey of DUI motorcycle offenders and discovered that first time offenders had ridden under the influence an average of 87 times before their initial arrest.

Ways to Stay Safe While Riding

To counteract the cultural view of motorcyclists as reckless, riders should follow safety guidelines to help keep everyone on the road safe. Here are some tips:

  • Maintain your motorcycle regularly by testing lights, breaks, and turn signals.
  • Consistently check oil and fuel levels, as well as for frayed cables.
  • Consider taking a motorcycle training course for a thorough skill set.
  • Wear a high quality helmet, and use a face shield, goggles, or safety lenses.
  • Safe clothing includes a leather jacket and pants, non-slip gloves, and boots that cover your ankles.
  • Never tailgate.
  • Follow the speed limit.
  • Know your bike’s limits.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Massachusetts’ Motorcycle Injury Attorneys

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, you may be struggling with mounting medical bills and lost wages. the Boston injury lawyers at Altman & Altman, LLP, have extensive experience with motorcycle accident injury cases. In your initial meeting, we will examine the circumstances of your accident to determine the best way to move forward. Our entire team believes that communication is vital to an effective attorney-client relationship. We will do everything possible to keep you informed and in control while we pursue the best legal strategy. Serving Boston and all of Massachusetts, Altman & Altman, LLP’s dedicated lawyers will fight aggressively to help you obtain the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.