January 2011 Archives

Should Arizonans Hate Motorcycles and Motorcycle Riders?

Many people in Arizona don't like motorcycles or motorcycle riders for a number of reasons. They think that motorcycles are loud, dangerous, and everyone who rides one is a criminal.  Many times, this perception is not just annoying, but it could affect a personal injury case.  All insurance companies are fully aware of this bias, and they reduce settlement offers as a result.  But as most, if not all Phoenix motorcycle riders know, the perception is simply not true. In fact, motorcycles are good for the environment.

How so? They are very very fuel efficient and the emissions output of a motorcycle, even a big, bad, loud Harley, is minuscule in comparison to a car.  Some of the statistics are dramatic.  For example, a Harley Davidson, which are typically bigger and heavier than other motorcycles, can get an astounding 60 miles per gallon.   That is quite a bit better than the third generation Toyota Prius, which is estimated around 50 mpg.  So the next you are on your motorcycle riding on the streets of Phoenix and the beautiful deserts of Arizona and some driver gives you a dirty look from the seat of his big, heavy, gas guzzilin' Cadillac, have the quiet satisfaction you are the one saving the world, one Hawg at a time.

Just as odious is the idea that all motorcycle riders are criminals or outlaws.  That is one perception I can refute from personal experience.  While there certainly are some motorcycle riders who are on the wrong side of the law more frequently than they ought to be, there are plenty of professional and law abiding motorcycle riders.  The recent upswing in professional Hawg riders is very well documented.  But even before some upscale consumers starting riding motorcycles, plenty of law abiding Americans, police officers, soldiers, blue collar workers, ... were riding motorcycles not just for the joy, but because of simple economics.   Motorcycles are not just more fuel efficient than cars, they are much cheaper all around.  They cost less to buy, run, and maintain than a car.

Eric Kral's Family Wants Arizonans to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet

Arizona's motorcycle helmet law is a issue that will not go away.  There are certainly good arguments on either side of the debate.  Proponents of the law argue that, quite simply, the law will save lives no less than the DUI laws or seat belt laws prevent fatalities. Opponents of the law say that if someone is a competent adult, they should not have the state dictate every aspect of their life.  If they are responsible and mature enough to ride a motorcycle, then they should decide on their own whether to wear a helmet.  Some motorcycle riders do not want to wear a helmet because the very last thing they want, even less than dying on the road, is ending up paralyzed or maimed because while their head was completely protected in a wreck, the rest of their body was severely injured.  There is no such thing as a "full body helmet".

Now, the family of critically injured Phoenix police officer Eric Kral is urging all those who ride motorcycles to wear helmets. Kral was in uniform on his personal motorcycle Monday morning driving to an off-duty job when he lost control of his bike, crashed into the rear of a car and was thrown onto Interstate 10 near 59th Avenue. Kral suffered severe head trauma.

Kral is a 12-year veteran of the force and is currently assigned to the Estrella Mountain Precinct. He previously worked out of the Squaw Peak Precinct. Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said Kral was wearing his Phoenix police uniform but driving his personal motorcycle eastbound on Interstate 10 to his off-duty job when he attempted to change lanes. Investigators said he applied his brakes to avoid traffic that had slowed ahead of him, skidded, slammed into the back of a vehicle and was thrown from his motorcycle, Graves said.

One of the difficult things about riding a motorcycle, as all motorcycle riders know, is that somethings are beyond the talent and skill of the motorcycle rider.  Even if you doing everything right, even if you are riding your motorcycle perfectly, a careless driver can hit you.  Another driver can simply become an obstacle that you swerve to avoid, which ends up being just as bad as a collision.   Whether or not you should wear a helmet is up to you, the rider, but just be careful when you ride.