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Old 9th August 2014, 01:33   #1
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Default Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

There has been a lot of discussion about road safety on Team BHP and rightly so, India being the country with highest number of road fatalities in the world ,this is one topic automobiles enthusiasts can't ignore.
Dying is a very real possibility on Indian roads, much more than what we might be comfortable with. It is further aggravated by roads both badly design and poorly maintained , unregulated traffic, lack of proper road signs, scant regard for traffic rules , illiterate drivers , badly maintained vehicles and finally lack of ambulance and trauma facilities. It concerns us as motorcycle enthusiasts because most of us are fond of riding which means that we are spending more time on roads exposing ourselves to the “risk” for longer time period hence increasing our chances of an adverse outcome.

Why is it so important to know how people die in motorcycle accidents ? Well by knowing what type of accidents that are causing most deaths, the protective gear used and their effects on type of injury recorded , type of other vehicles involved, alcohol levels in blood, mode of transport to the hospital etc. can give us a clue what to watch out for, which riding gear to choose from and appreciate the benefits from a defensive strategy.
This one study by Behera et al which was carried out at AIIMS, New Delhi from April 2007 to March 2008 by Forensic Medicine department of AIIMS which conducts the post-mortem examination in all cases of unnatural deaths in South Delhi. Hence the study will record all death due to motorcycle accidents in South Delhi during the period.

The type of traffic in India is unique, commonly used types of motorcycles are different, the mind set, education levels and behavior patterns of drivers are also different from other countries. This makes a lot of studies conducted in developed countries inapplicable to our scenarios and conclusions drawn on their basis miss their mark by miles.



1. Ninety four cases of deaths in motorcycle accidents were recorded , which meant that 5.38 % of unnatural deaths were bieng caused by motorcycling accidents.

This is a very significant proportion.
A number of other studies attribute about 40 % of all road traffic fatalities to motorcycles. Pedestrians also form a significant proportion of fatalities.
Due care is warranted while riding a motorcycle .

2. More than 90 % victims were males.

Proportion of males using motorcycles is high, they are more likely to indulge in risky driving compared to women. So every one out there control you hormones !

3. More than 75 % dead were riding themselves.

This either means that the person riding the motorcycle is more prone for fatal injury than pillion or that many people were riding solo at the time of accident.

4. Only 54 % were wearing helmets

Inspite of law and its strict enforcement in Delhi nearly half of victims were not wearing helmet at all.
So please wear helmets

5. None of the pillion rider killed was wearing helmet.

This point highlights a peculiar situation in Delhi where female pillion riders usually do not wear helmets. Please insist that your pillion rider wears a helmet.

6. Most fatalities happened during morning rush hours followed by evening rush hours.

It is logical that incidence of road traffic accident rise during rush hours, people are also in a hurry to reach office or home at the earliest. Please be careful specially during peak traffic hours and remember that haste can kill you!

7. Nearly 40 % deaths were due to collision with other vehicles from behind followed by fall due to loss of balance.

This point is very important, we all should remember that the greatest danger is lurking from behind, situational awareness , good rear view mirrors, light colour clothing along with reflective strips can help.

8. Majority of times the offending vehicles was heavy vehicle followed by medium weight vehicle.

The greatest danger to motorcycle riders is from heavy vehicles like busses , trucks, light trucks etc.
It could be that these heavy vehicles are less agile , ill maintained, poor braking, big blind spots etc.
Be careful around a heavy vehicle specially when you see one in the rear view mirror.

9. About 38 % deaths occurred on the spot.

A lot victims died on spot before any medical help can reach them. This is important as safety gears, and other preventive strategy may be of great value.
In most scenarios prevention is the only solution.

10. Nearly 68 % victims were transported to the hospital by PCR vans , about 29 % by private vehicles and only about 2 % by ambulance.

It is a reality in India where PCR vans are the most common means of transport for trauma victims, police vehicles have wireless communication sets which can be co-ordinates from control room but these are ill equipped for patient transport and the policemen manning these vans have no medical training.
Other option is to appoint a para medical staff along with the police personnel.

11. Ring road and other interstate highways were most prone for fatal motorcycle accidents.


These roads are vital arterial roads used by most commuters in Delhi , but these also fast moving at times, full of buses and trucks. There is hardly any segregation of vehicles.
Please avoid these types of roads whenever possible.

12. Head and face was the most vulnerable area followed by limbs.

It reinforces the facts already known, need for good quality helmet ( full face ) along with protective riding gear.

13. Head and neck injuries were the cause of death in approximately 75 % of cases followed by 17 % visceral injuries.

We need to protect our head using good quality helmets along with riding jackets with some sort of amour at front and back. Neck protection is still most neglected and HANS ( head and neck protection system) widely used on circuit car racing is not available for road riding (at least I am unaware ).

14. No significant difference in patterns of injury in persons wearing helmets vs no helmet.

This was a postmortem study hence included victims of high threat accidents where helmets may not fully protect the head and neck region.
If the collision is of sufficiently high energy even a helmet will not prevent fatal head injury secondly lot of helmets are being sold which are of inferior quality thirdly the retention system is not good in most helmets and I hardly see any double D ring type retention system even in helmets priced at approximately Rs 5000 even among premium brands. A lot of times the helmet itself will fly off the head before contact during collision.

15. Approximately 6 % had alcohol in blood.

Not too bad actually as other vehicles involved in road traffic accidents have much higher incidence of alcohol intoxication.
Do not drink and drive.


Reference

Behera C, Rautji R, Lalwani S, Dogra TD. A comprehensive study of motorcycle fatalities in South Delhi. J Indian Acad Forensic Med. 2009;31:6–10.
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Old 9th August 2014, 12:55   #2
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Default re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

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Originally Posted by mustang 99 View Post
7. Nearly 40 % deaths were due to collision with other vehicles from behind followed by fall due to loss of balance.

This point is very important, we all should remember that the greatest danger is lurking from behind, situational awareness , good rear view mirrors, light colour clothing along with reflective strips can help.

8. Majority of times the offending vehicles was heavy vehicle followed by medium weight vehicle.

The greatest danger to motorcycle riders is from heavy vehicles like busses , trucks, light trucks etc.
It could be that these heavy vehicles are less agile , ill maintained, poor braking, big blind spots etc.
Be careful around a heavy vehicle specially when you see one in the rear view mirror.
I think that while impact could be recorded from behind the bike, that only tells half the story. Most bikes I see on the roads, swing out into the fast lane when entering a main road, or immediately cut in front of you from another direction. This means that while mirrors ought to be mandatory, license tests ought to be stricter to curb this behavior.

I have often caught myself cursing bikers and thinking what if I was some old person driving and didn't have the reflexes to avoid running this guy over

Last edited by IshaanIan : 9th August 2014 at 12:56.
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Old 9th August 2014, 17:53   #3
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

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Originally Posted by mustang 99 View Post
4. Only 54 % were wearing helmets

Inspite of law and its strict enforcement in Delhi nearly half of victims were not wearing helmet at all.
So please wear helmets
Hmm...Statistics

so 54% died even though they were wearing helmets. This is kinda surprising and doesn't favor the helmet wearing folks. Are you sure about this number?
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Old 9th August 2014, 18:41   #4
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renjith Rajan View Post
Hmm...Statistics

so 54% died even though they were wearing helmets. This is kinda surprising and doesn't favor the helmet wearing folks. Are you sure about this number?
Interpretation:
There are no statistics for the number of helmet-wearing riders vs. helmetless riders who were involved in accidents. The likelihood is that a higher number of riders wearing helmets were involved in accidents, than those without helmets (prosecution for helmet-less riding in Delhi is frequent, so people do use helmets, albeit improperly.

Delhi Traffic Police has been campaigning lately about strapping up helmets properly.

Name:  Helmet DTP.jpg
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More interesting is that all the pillion riders who died (20, 21.28%) did not wear helmets. No deaths were reported of pillion riders who were wearing helmets.

Also, a majority of riders (44.67%) were in the age group of 21-30 years - youth and 2-wheelers combine to make a deadly cocktail.
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Old 9th August 2014, 19:23   #5
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

Wearing helmet is no surety or insurance against death in road traffic accidents.
High energy accidents often produce injuries in the head even with the helmet on. Fatal injuries can also result from neck, chest abdominal as well as limb injury.So one should be cautious all the time.
What we are forgetting is that this study was carried out during postmortem examination of victims so a lot people wearing helmets may have survived the crash and have not landed on the postmortem table, so helmets do save life. Other thing with is very important is the retention system i.e straps , people commonly do not tighten these straps or they are weak / faulty which leads to helmet being flung away in event of a crash.
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Old 9th August 2014, 21:11   #6
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

Thanks for sharing this information.

Somehow in India we lack a proper education on the aspect of road manners,IMO.The sheer number of times that biker's has cut me off without even looking in his mirrors(If at all he had any).

Weird bit is that most of them expect to have the right of way!

With my own eyes I've seen riders misjudging gaps between vehicles in heavy traffic and end up knocking themselves over.

Yes most of the people end up using helmets improperly.Even the straps aren't locked in tight.Helmets are not a snug fit.

That being said in a lot of the cases 4 wheelers do not notice the bikers going about.Blind spots etc and end up causing an accident.In quite a few cases its not the direct fall rather than some one else running over the victims.

Being both an avid rider and a driver,I always take great care while riding and driving.While riding,I never squeeze myself between large vehicles or any other risky moves.I actually leave quite early such that I don't have to ride in such a reckless manner.

At the end of the day I think awareness at the basic level is what would help,the stage where youngsters are first obtaining their driving permits.If these basic ideas are properly drilled in.It should make a difference.

I ask people to wear a helmet if I see them without any.Quite a few of them did reply quite rudely.Another portion of them replied that they were going nearby so they felt that it was unnecessary to wear one(It only saves lives afterall).

Awareness matters.
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Old 9th August 2014, 21:42   #7
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

Quote:
Originally Posted by Renjith Rajan View Post
Hmm...Statistics

so 54% died even though they were wearing helmets. This is kinda surprising and doesn't favor the helmet wearing folks. Are you sure about this number?

Hi,

Just 3 points.

1. Helmets are not made of adamantium or vibranium, that they can save your 'head' against all injuries.

2. A head injury is the most probable way you can die in a motorcycle accident but not the only one. A strong blow to any of the vital organs can cause death. Helmets just reduce the probability of the most vulnerable part to be hit badly.

3. Any helmet wont save you. It has to be a good one and moreover has a shelf life. It needs to be maintained well and taken good care of. Needless to say, a major chunk of helmets on indian roads are neither certified, nor road worthy.
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Old 9th August 2014, 22:08   #8
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

Absolutely right sir,
You have put it in the most simple terms possible. Good to discuss about shelf life of helmets. The helmet has outer shell made up of high performance plastic or in more expensive ones carbon fiber . These stop penetration of foreign object and also distribute the force to a wider area. The inner lining is made up of a sponge like material which further absorbs the force thus reducing injuries. This inner lining has a self life like cushion seat or mattress. So effectively the helmet you buy no matter how expensive will need replacement after 3-4 years.
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Old 9th August 2014, 23:00   #9
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

My two cents:

1) On a road with divider especially highway, the enemy (attacking vehicle) comes from behind.
2) On a road without a divider most of the enemies will come from front like two Trucks overtaking each other.
3) A biker should always keep track of 360 degrees around him and fastly approaching vehicles from all directions.
4) One of the reason bike accidents happen because bikers do not follow lane discipline. In Indian context lane discipline means not leaving the 3 feet wide lane (width of motorcycle) without proper traffic check and giving proper directions. Driving straight especially on a highway is absolutely necessary for a two wheeler because most bigger vehicles assume that the biker will drive straight in only the 3 feet available lane for him.
5) Bikers should try to avoid getting trapped in uncomfortable situations caused by bullying Bigger Vehicles.
6) Especially the bikers should try to follow the rule that one should not make any other vehicle brake, because braking by the other vehicle is not guaranteed.
7) On Divider roads the slow moving vehicles stick to the right most lane and so most of the overtaking happens from the wrong side. If a biker is going parallel to a slow moving vehicle hugging the divider lane (right most lane) then some four wheeler person will try to squeeze between the two to overtake. This causes some of the accidents. (Your enemy comes from behind) So Ideally a biker should avoid driving parallel to any bigger vehicle and always think about the vehicle coming from behind which will squeeze in between.
8) Motrocycle riders need to be carefull when we touch a reserve on the road and suddenly the engine shuts down at high speed. Motorcycle with self starters are preferred here.
9) Motorcycle tyres should be given due care to ensure proper traction. Try to drive the bike well below the traction and braking limits.
10) Most importatnt do not forget the Safety gears at any cost.
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Old 10th August 2014, 05:41   #10
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

This is scare, are we saying almost 46% people riding motorbike in Delhi are still not wearing helmets? I am not sure what cops are doing by checking papers of bikes and not enforcing helmet related rules on roads of Delhi.
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Old 10th August 2014, 08:13   #11
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

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...are we saying almost 46% people riding motorbike in Delhi are still not wearing helmets?
No, the interpretation of the data in that manner would be incorrect.
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Old 10th August 2014, 13:50   #12
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

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This is scare, are we saying almost 46% people riding motorbike in Delhi are still not wearing helmets?
My reading of the post was that 46% of people who were part of the data (had an accident) were not wearing a helmet.

Statistics is a strange beast - -The above does NOT mean that since 54% of the persons were wearing helmets - wearing a helmet increases the possibility of an accident!!
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Old 10th August 2014, 15:54   #13
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

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Originally Posted by mustang 99 View Post
Reference

Behera C, Rautji R, Lalwani S, Dogra TD. A comprehensive study of motorcycle fatalities in South Delhi. J Indian Acad Forensic Med. 2009;31:6–10.
To summarize, while riding,
1) Wear helmets (both the riders)
2) Frequently check traffic behind with rear view mirrors
3) Keep to left on highways & ring roads
4) Ride normally (don't try to save 2 minutes by bad driving)
5) and no DUI
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Old 10th August 2014, 22:12   #14
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

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Originally Posted by vibbs View Post
Just 3 points.

1. Helmets are not made of adamantium or vibranium, that they can save your 'head' against all injuries.

2. A head injury is the most probable way you can die in a motorcycle accident but not the only one. A strong blow to any of the vital organs can cause death. Helmets just reduce the probability of the most vulnerable part to be hit badly.

3. Any helmet wont save you. It has to be a good one and moreover has a shelf life. It needs to be maintained well and taken good care of. Needless to say, a major chunk of helmets on indian roads are neither certified, nor road worthy.
This doesn't explain the above numbers. From my experience from falling down, any helmet is better than NO helmet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
Interpretation:
.............
The likelihood is that a higher number of riders wearing helmets were involved in accidents, than those without helmets (prosecution for helmet-less riding in Delhi is frequent, so people do use helmets, albeit improperly.
...........
Thanks, this makes sense and is the most likely explanation.
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Old 10th August 2014, 23:11   #15
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Default Re: Lessons learnt from motorcycle deaths in Delhi

The following discourse is quoted from motorcycling safety from Wikipedia.
Its a food for thought , I never thought of attitudes about risk in motorcycling . Please read through it. I have quoted and edited version for the purpose of discussion.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety

Attitudes about risk in motorcycling

Michel Foucault - inspired historian Jeremy Packer sees the approach to motorcycle safety found in mainstream sport and touring motorcycling media, generally consistent with the advice of transport agencies, such as the US National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety, as an ideology or discourse, and places it as only one among multiple ideologies one may hold about motorcycling risk.
Packer has suggested four categories to describe the different approaches to the risks of motorcycling. The first and fourth categories take opposite views of motorcycling, but share a fatalistic notion that to motorcycle is to tempt fate. The second and third categories differ in the degree of emphasis they place on measures to limit the risk of riding, but share the view that riders have some degree of control and are not victims of fate.

1. Quit riding

This is the belief that motorcycling is too dangerous. Some former motorcyclists due to an accident involving themselves or a person they know, which permanently upends their view of motorcycling. Some are adamant in their opposition to motorcycling, unwilling to consider the merits or pleasures of riding due to their horror at the danger and physical carnage of motorcycle accidents.Agony aunt Claire Rayner, in her review of Melissa Holbrook Pierson's motorcycling book The Perfect Vehicle, admits her prejudice that nothing Pierson writes could change her attitude about motorcycling because, "I used to be hospital casualty nurse and spent so much time dealing with bikers who were scraped off the road like so much raspberry jam after accidents that I became an implacable hater of the machine.The danger to which bikers constantly put themselves, however well-wrapped in their urban armour of studded leather, and however horrendously helmeted, seems to me a reason for banning the infernal machines. A smell of blood and smashed muscle and bone mixed with engine oil. That is what motor cycle means to me. And, I'm afraid, always will.

2. Hyper reflective self-disciplinary

This attitude to risk consists of self-criticism, constant vigilance, perpetual training and practice, and continual upgrading of safety equipment. It is sometimes a reaction to an epiphany. David Edwards of Cycle World wrote, "Here's the thing: motorcycles are not dangerous," saying that if a rider has a license, attends riding schools, wears all the gear all the time (ATGATT), and develops an accident avoidance sixth sense, motorcycling can become safe.Do all of these things, become really serious about your roadcraft, and you'll be so under-represented in accident statistics as to become almost bulletproof. There are many examples of riding advice which enumerate strategies for avoiding danger while riding, but they de-emphasize the rider accepting inherent risk as part of riding, instead emphasizing the rider's agency, based on his education and practice, in determining whether he will crash or not, and the utility of the correct safety gear in whether or not he will be injured in a crash.

3. Risk Valorization

This is the acceptance that risk is unavoidable but can be embraced by making certain choices, whereby motorcyclists, "re-appropriate risk and motorcycling as something which can't be measured only according to utility and efficiency.This discourse doesn't eschew safety in absolute terms, but neither does it maintain the validity of safety as the be-all and end-all for riding.Motorcycling advocate and writer Wendy Moon said that one of the reasons she relaxed her insistence on always wearing a helmet while riding was that she no longer considered it worth "the mental effort required to maintain that protective attitude. I am not free to live in the now because I’m enslaved to the future 'what if.' .So we gradually distance ourselves from experiencing a full and free life and we don’t even know it. As a society, we’re like kids so bundled up against the snow we cannot move at all.Embracing that risk rejuvenates the soul and empowers one to live the rest of her life as she wants.

4. Flaunting risk

Hunter S. Thompson's passages in his book Hell's Angels have been quoted by Packer and others as perhaps the best illustrations of the devil-may-care approach of a sizable group motorcyclists: "They shun even the minimum safety measures that most cyclists take for granted. You will never see a Hell's Angel wearing a crash helmet. Nor do they wear Brando-Dylan-style 'silver-studded phantom' leather jackets," and "anything safe, they want no part of", and "The Angels don't want anybody to think they're hedging their bets. In his essay Song of the Sausage Creature, Thompson wrote, "It is an atavistic mentality, a peculiar mix of low style, high speed, pure dumbness, and overweening commitment to the Cafe Life and all its dangerous pleasures.Packer calls it, "a fate driven sensibility.

BMW psychologist and researcher Bernt Spiegel has found that non-motorcyclists and novice motorcyclists usually share the fatalistic attitude described by Thompson, insofar as they think that high speed motorcycling is like a game of chicken or Russian roulette, where the rider tests his courage to see how close he can come to "the edge", or specifically the limit of traction while braking or cornering, without having any idea how close he is to exceeding that limit and crashing. In Thompson's words in Hell's Angels it is, 'The Edge' There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others — the living — are those who pushed their luck as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later.
Spiegel takes issue with the claim that only those who have "gone over", that is, crashed or died, know the location of the boundary line. He says that if motorcycle racers, or even non-professional advanced riders who make good use of the capabilities of a modern sport bike, were approaching the limits of traction blindly, they would be like a group of blind men wandering around the top of a building, and most of them would wander off the edge and fall. In fact, Spiegel says, crashes among skilled high speed riders are so infrequent that it must be the case that they can feel where the limit of traction is. Spiegel's physiological and psychological experiments helped explore how it is possible for a good rider to extend his perception beyond the controls of his motorcycle out to the interface between the contact patches of his motorcycle and the road surface. Whether or not one believes that the limits of traction are knowable can determine whether one falls into the second and third categories, those who try to minimize or accommodate the risks of motorcycling, as opposed to those who think the risks are beyond the rider's knowledge and control, categories one and four, either rejecting riding altogether or riding recklessly.
Motorcycle Consumer News Proficient Motorcycling columnist Ken Condon put it that, "The best riders are able to measure traction with a good amount of accuracy" even though that amount changes depending on the motorcycle, the tires and the tires' condition, and the varying qualities of the road surface.But Condon says the rider feels the limit of traction through his hand and foot interface with the handlebars and foot pegs, and the seat, rather than extending his perception out to the contact patch itself.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_safety
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