“Biker bars” are a phenomenon of the motorcycle subculture. For many bikers, consuming alcohol and the thrill of riding go hand in hand. Despite this trend, statistics show that drinking and riding don’t mix well-at all. Motorcyclists who drink and ride not only risk the possibility of getting pulled over for a DUI, they also face a greater danger than passenger vehicle drivers of being involved in a fatal crash. Motorcyclists should be aware of the special risks that come with drinking and riding.
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, about 46 percent of riders killed in accidents have alcohol in their system at the time of their death. Their data suggests that even a small amount of alcohol increases a rider’s chance of crashing up to 5 times. A legal BAC of 0.05 (about 2 standard drinks for most males) increases the chances of crashing 40-fold.
While these statistics may seem exaggerated, a study performed by the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies produced similar results. The study confirmed that a BAC within the legal limit of 0.05 affected rider performance negatively. Riders experienced measurably decreased riding abilities after only one or two drinks.
These results have led Ken Glaser, Director of Special Projects at the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, to advice a “zero” BAC limit. According to Glaser, there is really no “safe” limit when it comes to drinking and riding.
However, attitudes among motorcyclists seem to suggest that most riders are unaware of how dangerous drinking and riding can be. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explains that a certain laxness about alcohol pervades the attitude of many members of the biker community.
In an interview conducted by the NHTSA, one biker went on record saying “If they’re totally wasted, then you worry about their safety. If they’re just a little bit wasted then it’s ‘watch out for the cops’.” Another biker said “If you don’t fall down within the first few feet, you’re going to be okay. I’ve seen guys do that.”
While more studies are needed to reach a complete and proper conclusion, it seems apparent that culturally held attitudes like these ones are problematic for the biker subculture. Driving under the influence is a serious charge that many people, including motorcyclists, do not take seriously. Being aware of the risks and consequences of getting a DUI is an important step for all motorists to take before hitting the open road.
Source: www.motorcycle.com, “The Truth about Drinking and Riding,” Jeff Cobb, May 19, 2009.