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With Motorcycles, One Size Does Not Fit All, and Not All Ages Are Created Equal

June 7th, 2021

In states like Oregon, where there are fewer months with dry road surfaces and warmer air, it’s hard not to notice an increase in news stories about personal injuries and fatalities due to motorcycle crashes during the summer months. Add to that the nearly steady increase in motorcycle registrations in the state over the past 10 years, often with a more than 5% increase from the previous year, and that means an onslaught of motorcycles on the roads for a limited amount of time. Increases in these motorcycle accidents could mean an increased need for motorcycle injury attorneys. But the numbers also reveal something else. In recent years, motorcycle deaths among people in their 40s to 60s have increased, likely due to the fact that there are larger numbers of older drivers, but also because as people age, the physical and mental functions needed for safe driving can deteriorate.

Between 1998 and 2008, the most recent data available from the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, fatality rates of motorcycle crashes increased steadily across the board, even as car crash fatalities decreased. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by 2008, car fatalities were at an all-time low while motorcycle fatalities were at an all-time high. Whether or not these motorcycle crash fatalities were a result of wrongful death, therefore requiring a wrongful death attorney, is unclear. Some of the crashes can be attributed to the fact that motorcycles are more likely than other vehicles to crash with a fixed object – opposed to another moving vehicle – according to the NHTSA. However, there’s another clear piece to the puzzle: Age.

The NHTSA and the CDC have conflicting data about the various ages of those fatalities, perhaps because of their different areas of focus. According to the CDC, the age group with the most motorcycle fatalities has long been riders in their 20s. The NHTSA tells a different story, though. According to their data, motorcycle fatalities in 1998 were more common for riders in their twenties. But by 2008, riders older than 40 were more likely to die in motorcycle crashes, and by a larger margin.

In Oregon, the numbers support those of the NHTSA. In 2011, motorcycle crash deaths disproportionally affected people between the ages of 45-64, according to the Oregon Department of Transportation, with more deaths in that age range than all other age ranges combined. Of all the motorcycle crashes in Oregon that year, nearly twice as many did not involve another vehicle. This category includes accidents caused by overturning, colliding with a fixed object, or others classified as “non-collision.” Fatalities in those categories were five times higher than fatalities of motorcycle crashes with other vehicles involved, and more motorcyclists died in collisions with fixed objects than any other kind of collision, according to ODOT. But why is there such an increase in fatalities with age?

It could be sheer numbers. According to The Insurance Journal, motorcyclists older than 50 accounted for just 10 percent of all bike owners in 1990. However, “[b]y 2003, the 50-and-older crowd represented 25 percent of motorcycle owners,” and “the average age of motorcycle owners rose from 33 to just older than 40.”

In addition to the increased numbers, factors of aging could play a role. In an article about aging vehicle drivers, the CDC noted that as people age, “declines in vision and cognitive functioning (ability to reason and remember), as well as physical changes, may affect some older adults’ driving abilities.”

Although this does not address motorcycle drivers specifically, the more physical and mental demands of riding a motorcycle could exaggerate those age factors. “It takes an estimated 2,500 tasks to ride a motorcycle and only 800 to drive a car,” making motorcycle driving more complex, according to ODOT and TEAM OREGON, Oregon’s official motorcycle safety program. As TEAM OREGON’s communications and outreach manager, Pat Hahn, said in a news story for KTVZ, “[m]otorcycling is different from driving a car – you need a higher level of skill and awareness than you do in a passenger vehicle.”

There is one more theory behind these increased deaths, though it cannot be proven one way or the other until there is a shift in data collection. In the article by The Insurance Journal, there are two trends of motorcycle fatalities that could be related. As previously discussed, one is age. The other is the size of the motorcycles. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, between 1985 and 2009 there were an increase in deaths on motorcycles with engines larger than 1400cc, and a decrease in deaths with motorcycles having engines smaller than 1400cc.

Although the NHTSA sees an increase in fatalities for people over 40 and for those driving larger motorcycles, there is no evident data that the two go together. If they do correlate, though, there would be ramifications. As motorcycle engine size increases, so does the weight of the motorcycle, making it harder to maneuver. If decreased strength and cognitive functions are in play with older drivers, an increased weight and necessary skill level could raise the number of motorcycle accidents and deaths.

As with many other types of accidents, it can be difficult to determine the cause of all motorcycle accidents. When personal injury or death is a factor in motorcycle crashes, motorcycle accident attorneys may be able to provide assistance.

Watch Out, The Depreciation On Your Motorcycle Can Affect Your Motorcycle Loan

April 7th, 2021

Like cars, many new motorcycles depreciate very quickly after they are driven out of the dealership. As a result, if you are a motorcycle buyer looking for a motorcycle loan or financing, it is important you understand that not getting the right type of motorcycle loan can put you in the position of owing more on your motorcycle than it is actually worth if you were to sell it. This occurs with some motorcycle loans because the value of your motorcycle depreciates faster than you are paying down the principal on the motorcycle loan. This makes it very difficult to sell or trade in your motorcycle if you have not paid off the loan.

Most motorcycle buyers feel that they will pay off their loan before they sell their motorcycle, but this is simply not the case. Many motorcycle buyers get loans for 60 months or greater to lower their monthly payments and then proceed to sell or trade in their motorcycle after a couple of years. The longer the term of your loan the higher your vulnerability is to owing more on your motorcycle loan than your bike is worth if you choose to sell or trade it in. This is especially true if you get a zero down payment motorcycle loan, 72 month motorcycle loan or an 84 month motorcycle loan.

In addition to the term on your motorcycle loan or financing, you should watch the type of interest calculation that is used by your motorcycle lender. There are primarily two types of interest calculation used by motorcycle lenders: pre-computed (combined with rule of 78) and simple interest.

A pre-computed interest calculation combined with Rule of 78 is by far the worst for motorcycle buyers. The reason for this is that in the first 24 months of the loan most of the monthly payment goes towards paying off interest and very little of the monthly payment goes to paying down the value of the motorcycle. Therefore, on a 60 month loan with a zero down payment a motorcycle buyer can easily find themselves owing more for the loan than the value of the motorcycle. This makes it nearly impossible to trade in the bike or sell it during the first 24 months of the motorcycle loan.

A simple interest calculation is therefore the best alternative for a motorcycle buyer because it contributes less to interest (than pre-computed interest) in the early years of the loan and more to paying down the value of the motorcycle. However, if you have a motorcycle type that traditionally depreciates quickly you can still be affected negatively with your motorcycle loan especially if you opt for a zero down motorcycle loan with terms of 48 month or more.

Here are 6 steps you can use to help you get the most from your motorcycle loan and to help you get prevent from owing more on your bike than it is worth if you decide to sell it or trade it in during the early years of your loan.

1. Try to avoid zero down payment motorcycle loans, especially if they extend for more than 36 months.

2. Find a lender that uses a simple interest calculation for your loan. Avoid lenders that use pre-computed – rule of 78 interest calculations.

3. Try to avoid motorcycle loans that extend past 36 months especially if you are purchasing a motorcycle brand that is going to depreciate quickly.

4. Always try to make extra payments on your loan towards the principal of your loan when extra money is available.

5. Opt for an installment motorcycle loan before a credit card loan. Installment loans typically provide better terms and conditions for motorcycle buyers.

6. Look for online motorcycle loans to ensure you get the most competitive interest rates available.