YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Freeway Is the Place to Be on a Motorcycle


Where's the safest place to ride a motorcycle? A quiet cul-de-sac, a one-way street or a remote country road?

None of the above.

According to motorcycling experts, the safest place to ride a street bike is on the freeway. Indeed, the most comprehensive motorcycle accident study ever undertaken validates that idea.

"It was a bit of a surprise," said David Thom, one of the authors of a federally sponsored 1981 USC study that is still considered the definitive report in the field.

"But when you think about the freeway, there's no cross traffic, no intersections, no one pulling out of a driveway. The key thing is that everybody is going in the same direction."

The study--whose findings on accident locales have been confirmed by more recent, less detailed reports--determined that the majority of multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles are the fault of a car or truck driver failing to yield.

This doesn't let motorcyclists off the hook, but it does help explain why two-thirds of motorcycle accidents occur in intersections.

"They are absolutely the most dangerous places," said Thom, now vice president of the Head Protection Research Laboratory in Paramount and a rider himself.

"On the freeway, you might be going 65 instead of 25, but there is no one suddenly making a 90-degree turn right in front of you."


David Colker's full Two-Wheel Ride column will return later this month with a review of the season's hot sportbikes.

Los Angeles Times Articles