Motorcycle advocate Tim Buche: Tune up your bike — and your riding skills
As president of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the Motorcycle Industry Council, Tim Buche is engaged in a two-wheeled balancing act.
The nonprofit organizations have separate boards, missions and purposes, but Buche guides them both from an office in Irvine, Calif. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation develops the curriculum and the licensing tests that states use for 23 courses for motorcycle riders. Meanwhile, the Motorcycle Industry Council is a traditional trade association that works to ensure vehicles meet government standards.
InsuranceQuotes.com spoke with Buche to find out what both organizations are up to and to get his take on motorcycle insurance.
|Tim Buche is president of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and the Motorcycle Industry Council.|
InsuranceQuotes.com: What’s the main focus of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation now?
Tim Buche: We are focused right now on the world’s first large-scale “naturalistic” study. It’s about a $2 million investment. We’re outfitting 100 motorcycles with five cameras, GPS, radar, lane-position tracking equipment and other technology that will be on 100 motorcyclists’ personal motorcycles for the course of a year. We’ll capture probably in the neighborhood of 400,000 miles of exposure and we’ll get a chance to see how riders ride when they’re out on their own.
InsuranceQuotes.com: The Motorcycle Industry Council just developed a protocol for determining the range of electric motorcycles. What sort of timeline is there for electric motorcycles to make their way into the mainstream?
Buche: It’s hard to determine when we’ll shift from early adopter to mass availability, but what we are seeing is that some excellent companies are making some excellent products. People who are buying for certain reasons — the economics might not be the same as a traditional motorcycle because the purchase price is higher. But it seems like most technology — whether it’s the iPod, a smartphone or almost any other leading-edge technology — with the increase in value, the decrease in acquisition cost comes down dramatically. We’re kind of at that phase.
InsuranceQuotes.com: How does the Motorcycle Safety Foundation view the role of insurance companies?
Buche: The Motorcycle Safety Foundation seeks to create riders of good riding character – those that make good decisions. Insurance companies would be wise to reward that better behavior. Too often an insurance company says, “You take a course, you get a discount.” The Motorcycle Safety Foundation would say that that discount probably shouldn’t last a lifetime. It’s not an inoculation. You should earn your discount every couple years with safety renewal. That’s why we have 23 courses.
InsuranceQuotes.com: Have you had any feedback from the insurance industry on whether they would be receptive to that?
Buche: There are two sides to insurance. There’s the marketing side and the underwriting side. On the marketing side, we see that they want a discount for almost everything anybody does. The underwriting side would like to see discounts that are meaningful. If you take a basic (motorcycle) rider course, that’s a pretty big step. If you ride licensed and insured, that’s a pretty big deal. We do know that unlicensed, uninsured riders are over-represented in crash statistics. It makes sense that insurance companies reward good behavior. We say, “Be a lifelong learner.” You tune up your bike every year or so — you should tune up yourself.
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation would say that motorcycling is just as much about the eyes and the mind as it is about the hands and the feet – the hands and the feet being the skill part, and the eyes and the mind being the risk management. If we don’t change that issue, and we approve the skill, that’s where we get people figuring they can go 60 miles per hour through a turn instead of 30. That’s not good. You have to understand the risk associated with that.
InsuranceQuotes.com: What advice would you give consumers when shopping for motorcycle insurance?
Buche: Make sure you’re carrying adequate liability coverage. Get the right coverage for your type of bike, and the type of loan and financing you may have. I think people make the mistake of not protecting themselves.
Then, really do the research, asking the question of not just, “What do you want to sell me?” but “What should I have?” Ask that in a few places. Be an informed consumer.