Alcohol Use Remains a Problem for Bikers
It’s commonly perceived as part of the culture—the “biker bar” and the huge motorcycle gatherings where alcohol and drugs are omnipresent. Statistics indicate, too, that the problem is real—an NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) study shows that bikers who are involved in deadly accidents are nearly three times as likely to have a blood alcohol content that exceeds the legal limit.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), a national nonprofit organization that promotes research and public awareness to reduce motorcycle accidents, has worked aggressively for the last decade to dispel perceptions that there’s a safe amount of alcohol a person can consume before getting on a motorcycle. MSF officials say that even small quantities of alcohol, far less than the legal limit, lead to a five-fold increase in the likelihood of a crash. A study out of the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation found that a BAC of .05 had a cognizable impact on a biker’s ability to drive. For bikers who exceed .08 (the legal limit in most states), the risk of accidents goes up 40 fold. MSF advocates a “zero BAC” policy.
NHTSA researchers say that the vast majority of biker accidents involving alcohol abuse occur at night and on the weekends. Nearly six out of every ten alcohol-related motorcycle fatalities happen on Saturday or Sunday, and the bulk of the weekend deaths are between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.
The study also showed that men are far and away at greater risk of dying in an alcohol-related motorcycle accident than women. The NHTSA study found 83% of biker traffic fatalities involve males.
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