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Don’t Let Rider Attitude Contribute to a Wisconsin Motorcycle Accident

There’s an old rider proverb you may have heard: “Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.” That means there is a special bond between a motorcycle rider and his machine. It’s more than just a vehicle; it’s the embodiment of his ideals of freedom and mobility. It’s an endorsement of the rider attitude that prizes independence, self-determination, self-confidence, wanderlust, and maybe a little bit of recklessness and swagger.

That’s actually quite a nice set of ideals. The only problem is that, when you mix rider attitude with highway traffic, you can get a formula for trouble. In particular, psychologists — yes, psychologists study riders — suggest that there are at least two ways that rider attitudes can work against common-sense safety on the road.


Motorcycle riders don’t trust authority figures. “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do,” the rider growls, and takes off in a cloud of dust. That viewpoint explains why so many adult riders endorse the anti-helmet movement, despite repeated studies showing that helmets are critical to preventing injuries during a motorcycle collision. Indeed, many riders will deliberately go out of their way to reject taking safety precautions. One expert who has studied motorcycle culture says that riders can be described as “risk-takers with no tradition of risk-management.”


In psychological studies, riders also show a tendency to discount safety measures as undesirable. Accidents are fated to happen, some believe, and there’s no use arguing with destiny. A factor called ‘risk homeostasis” also can come into play here: when people take action to be safer in one aspect of their behavior, they tend to offset that by engaging in riskier behavior elsewhere in their lives. For riders, that may mean as they gain experience and skill controlling their vehicles, they unconsciously choose to ride at higher speeds, in poorer weather conditions, while intoxicated, or in other riskier situations.

Getting past the attitude

Of course, giving in to rider psychology to justify riding unsafely is childish. A rider can be independent, self-confident, and freedom-loving, and still take proper precautions to protect herself and other people on the road. As Wisconsin traffic accident lawyers, we have seen too many fatalities and serious motorcycle injuries caused by a foolish and stubborn refusal to focus on road safety.

If you do get into a motorcycle collision, a history of ignoring safety issues works against your legal case for compensation. For instance, the insurance company lawyer may argue that you must not have valued your life or health very much if you couldn’t bother to wear a helmet, or that your failure to follow safety procedures makes you partially responsible for the accident.

At the Hupy and Abraham law firm, we deal with imperfect clients and imperfect cases all the time. If you have been involved in a Wisconsin motorcycle accident, make an appointment for a free consultation with one of our Appleton motorcycle crash lawyers. We can work with you to aggressively seek the compensation you are due for your injuries. Call us at 920-882-8382 (local) or (800) 800-5678 (toll-free), and we would be glad to send you a FREE copy of our book, The Ultimate Guide for Motorcycle Accident Victims, even if you do not hire us as your legal team.
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