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 Motorcycle Safety
 General Discussion
 The growing problem of trike deaths
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DataDan
Advanced Member
576 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 12/08/2017 :  2:30 PM                       Like
Two months ago, an elderly couple died on a trike in a single-vehicle crash here on the Central Coast. It happened on a Sunday morning on an unremarkable rural freeway with little traffic at the time. It caught my attention because I had seen quite a few trike crashes in my daily review of US motorcycle news over the past few years. So I dug into the US DOT's FARS database (Fatality Analysis Reporting System) to see if trike deaths were trending upward. This is what I found:

US Trike Fatalities.............2012..2013..2014..2015..2016..total

DEATHS BY PERSON TYPE
driver............................25....25....39....41....61....191
passenger..........................6.....6.....6.....9....13.....40
TOTAL.............................31....31....45....50....74....231

CRASHES BY RIDER AGE
< 30...............................4.....0.....2.....2.....2.....10
30-39..............................2.....2.....3.....4.....2.....13
40-49..............................3.....3.....2.....2.....6.....16
50-59..............................8.....4....10.....8....21.....51
60-69..............................9....13....17....24....32.....95
70-79..............................3.....7.....7.....7.....9.....33
80+................................0.....2.....2.....2.....2......8
TOTAL.............................29....31....43....49....74....226

CRASHES BY RIDER SEX
male..............................27....30....38....45....69....246
female.............................2.....1.....5.....4.....5.....24
TOTAL.............................29....31....43....49....74....270

CRASHES BY TRIKE MAKE
Can-Am.............................9.....6....10....16....16.....57
Harley-Davidson...................15....20....22....23....45....125
other..............................5.....5....11....10....13.....44
TOTAL.............................29....31....43....49....74....226

CRASHES BY CATEGORY
departed road.....................15....16....23....16....30....100
crossing vehicle...................2.....4.....4.....8....18.....36
other..............................2.....4.....2.....9.....7.....24
struck obstacle....................1.....3.....3.....4.....4.....15
hit vehicle ahead..................2.....1.....1.....2.....6.....12
head-on............................2.....1.....2.....3.....1......9
sideswipe same direction...........0.....0.....3.....2.....4......9
hit from behind....................2.....1.....2.....2.....0......7
no impact..........................0.....1.....1.....1.....1......4
rear end...........................1.....0.....2.....1.....0......4
merging vehicle....................2.....0.....0.....0.....1......3
sideswipe opp. direction...........0.....0.....0.....1.....2......3
TOTAL.............................29....31....43....49....74....226

A few comments:
  • Passenger deaths are much higher (17%) than for all motorcycle fatalities (6%). This is probably because passengers are more common on trikes.

  • Average rider age is much higher (62) than for all motorcycle fatalities (42).

  • Involvement of women riders is much higher (9%) than for all motorcycle fatalities (3.6%).

  • The growing involvement of Harleys merely reflects the number Tri-Glides on the road since the model was introduced in 2009. "Others" are mostly Gold Wing conversions and home-builts. A few Urals and one Boss Hoss are also included.

  • Roadway departure is more common in fatal trike crashes (44%) than in all motorcycle crashes (30%).

My only experience on a trike was a Can-Am Spyder test ride a few years ago. Compared to a motorcycle, I found it that it required considerable steering effort to change directions quickly. And, though I didn't attempt any hard cornering, I would expect it not to be very capable in that respect. On the plus side, the brakes were GREAT. Linked front-and-rear, with ABS. I don't know about Harley trike brakes.

While the trike percentage of all fatal US motorcycle crashes is tiny (< 2%), it's growing fast. Any thoughts about how trike riders might reduce their risk?

Any thoughts from regular trike riders about riding style?

scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6922 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, ID
USA

Honda

XR650L, 1090 Adv R

Posted - 12/08/2017 :  5:34 PM
Can't answer your questions directly, but...

Whenever I'm traveling and there is somebody at the motel I'm staying at with a trike, I'll ask them why they prefer three wheels over two. Most of the time it's because the wife feels unsafe on a two-wheeled motorcycle, but not on one with three wheels.

I'm still of the opinion that when I can't handle a two wheeled motorcycle, I'll just go with a convertible. I can't see a trike in my future. My wife doesn't like riding on the back of a motorcycle, but is generally okay in my Mustang convertible if the temperature is in a reasonable range.
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rkfire
Advanced Member
1715 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Posted - 12/13/2017 :  5:44 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I would guess that there's a high percentage of older riders that never or a very long time ago rode motorcycles.

I recall MCN performance list had a Harley, Goldwing, and Ural 3 wheeler listed on the page, and their 60 mph stopping distances were 143, 216, and 191 ft. respectively. They had no listing for Can Am or Polaris Slingshot. Those are some disturbing distances for that Goldwing conversion and the Ural and even the Harley not having stellar number compared to typical bikes and car distances.
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