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Motorcyclists: Safety gear helps protect you on the roads

California is an exciting place to ride. There are curving roadways, straightaways and open roads where you can get up to speed and enjoy the feeling of freedom.

There are also many problem areas, though, throughout California. Riding a motorcycle has always been, and likely always will be, more dangerous than using a passenger vehicle.

Motorcycle deaths are a growing concern in the United States

Motorcycle deaths declined in California between 2014 and 2015, dropping by 7 percent to 489 fatalities. Across the country, 4,976 people were killed in 2016.

Overall, the number of motorcycle crashes leading to fatalities has increased, which is partially a result of more motorcyclists being on the road and a result of people riding without helmets. In California, all riders are required to wear helmets, but that doesn't mean all people do.

Why are helmets so important to rider safety?

Helmets reduce the risk of dying from fatal injuries by around 37 percent. Those who do not wear helmets are approximately three times more likely to suffer from traumatic brain injuries as a result of a collision.

Traumatic brain injuries are a main cause of death after serious collisions. Since helmets reduce the severity of these injuries in most cases, people who are in collisions are less likely to pass away.

Motorcycles aren't one size fit all

It's also important to understand that motorcycles aren't one-size-fits-all. Certain motorcycles may be too heavy or large for certain riders. Supersport motorcycles, for example, have driver death rates that are much higher than cruisers. In fact, supersport motorcycles have a death rate around four times higher than standard or cruiser motorcycles.

Why is there such a discrepancy? This comes down to the high-horsepower engines and light weight of the frame. The motorcycles can reach upwards of 160 mph, which means that any crash has a significant possibility of becoming a fatal one.

If you plan to ride, make sure you understand the importance of wearing appropriate safety attire. Road conditions, weather conditions, traffic and other factors play a role in crashes. If you do your best to be prepared for a fall, there's a better chance that you'll walk away unharmed or with less-serious injuries. Motorcyclists have less protection than drivers, so it's always in your best interests to do everything you can to protect yourself and avoid a crash.

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