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Bikers behaving badly: Tickling, texting, taking chances

By Posted : 07/24/2015

Motorcyclists doing stoppie (Photo: iStockPhoto)Bikers confessed to road-rash worthy antics such as texting and riding while standing on the seat, and said they are annoyed most by other motorists' and riders' reckless driving, according to a new survey.

Erie Insurance asked nearly 200 motorcycle riders which behaviors by their fellow bikers and motorists bother them most, and what they believe to be the most common mistakes rookie motorcyclists make.

Bikers also recounted outlandish things they'd done while riding, or seen others do:

  • Several riders said they had stood on the seat with their hands in the air while speeding down the highway, or had seen others doing it.
  • A couple of riders reported seeing others texting while riding. One said the texter was leaning onto his backseat and steering with his feet.
  • One rider saw an amorous couple riding their bike in a compromising position.
  • One rider said he cruised up behind a woman who had her bare feet sticking out the passenger seat window of a car and tickled her feet. He said, “She freaked…then burst out laughing.”

Aggressive motorcycle drivers and those who don't use safety gear irked motorcyclists the most, according to the survey. Here are riders' top five pet peeves about other riders:

  1. Riders who drive aggressively or recklessly (i.e., speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, doing wheelies, etc.) – 56%
  2. Riders who pass on the shoulder – 41%
  3. Riders who engage in “lane splitting” (riding in between lanes of stopped traffic) – 36%
  4. Riders who don’t wear protective gear (i.e., riders wearing shorts, sandals, tank tops, etc.) – 35%
  5. Riders who don't wear helmets – 28%

The same riders were asked about the mistakes most rookies make. They singled out:

  1. Assuming other drivers can see them – 38%
  2. Wanting to show off or impress others – 35%
  3. Buying a bike that’s more powerful than they can handle – 31%
  4. Not taking a riding or safety course (tie) – 30 %
  5. Riding on high-traffic roads too soon before they’re comfortable maneuvering their bike (tie) – 30 %
  6. Failure to check blind spots – 28%

Motorcyclists were also not pleased with the following behaviors by those driving cars and trucks:

  1. Failing to check blind spots before changing lanes – 55%
  2. Texting while driving – 53%
  3. Aggressive or reckless drivers (i.e., speeding, weaving in and out of traffic) – 50%
  4. Tailgaters – 43%
  5. Not using signals when turning or changing lanes – 42%

This is why you need motorcycle insurance

Many newer cars have systems that intervene if a driver has a lapse in judgment – stability control, collision avoidance, lane-departure warnings – and technology such as crumple zones and air bags to limit the damage from a crash.

Motorcyclists are comparatively naked.

Per mile driven, fatality rates for motorcyclists are 26 times those of people in passenger cars, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association.

 “Clearly some of the problem is recklessness by riders,” says Insurance.com Managing Editor Des Toups. “But a lot of it is simply that drivers don’t know a motorcycle is there.”

Carriers that sell motorcycle insurance try to influence their customers with discounts for those who take safety courses or choose anti-lock brakes, which may help riders avoid many accidents.

Yet riders should insure for worst-case scenarios, Toups says. Even full coverage (mandatory liability insurance plus comprehensive and collision) leaves a rider exposed for the costs of medical treatment if he’s at fault or the other driver is uninsured.

“Your catlike reflexes may keep you out of most trouble, but they can’t pay your hospital bills,” he says.

If you have health insurance, consider how you or your family would pay the deductible, which can be thousands of dollars. If you don’t have health insurance, some kind of medical payments coverage is a must, Toups says.

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