Okay, have a seat. Mopeds and scooters are not as safe as motorcycles, because you can’t accelerate out of trouble when it happens. My opinion only.
No one rides a motorcycle because of safety. You are not safe, you are actually quite vulnerable. To everything. To the extent that it may help, you should take your son to a place where he can meet some experienced motorcyclists, and you should gently turn the conversation to personal near misses and lost friends. I’ll start.
My brother was killed at the age of 26. A driver had pulled into the intersection, realized he was lost, and had stopped mid intersection. By the time my brother figured out that the car was stationary, he was maybe 100 yards away and going 50 kmh. He braked hard, tried to turn right, dropped it onto its right side, skidded and was killed instantly when his wheels came in contact with the wheels of the car, flipping him and the bike up into the strut between the front and rear seats on the passenger side. I really miss him. That was his last of at least 3 accidents that we knew of.
My friend’s brother G. was killed when he crested the top of a hill on a back road doing 80 kmh. On the far side of the crest of the hill was a cow that had gotten through the fence and was wandering on the highway. No sign that he even had time to hit the brakes.
A friend, J., was stopped behind a van that was turning left into my driveway. This was about 100 yards past a major intersection with a stop light. A car gunned it to make it through the yellow light in time, and rear-ended the van with J. sandwiched in between. Again, I doubt he ever knew what hit him. Driver got off with a fine for manslaughter. My roommate at the time was totally freaked out - we had left an acting class at about the same time, him on his bicycle, me on my motorbike. When he came home to see the cops all over the place, the road shut down and an unidentifiable twisted motorbike lying in the street in front of our house, he reached the logical conclusion and came running up the stairs in a total panic.
An unidentified kid in Saskatoon. I was out for a run on a Sunday morning along Spadina Cres., and I heard some guys ripping along on their bikes. Just past the Bessborough Hotel, I heard a loud ‘Smack’, followed by a skid, followed by silence. I ran back toward the Broadway Bridge, just as the cops and the ambulance were getting there. One of the bikers had cut the corner too fine, leaned a little too hard and had hit his head on the bridge support. Took his head and his left shoulder off. His buddy was there, talking to the cops. I ran for a bit more, and came back that way, just in time to see his buddy finishing up with the cops. The look on that kid’s face as he straddled his bike and started it up was unforgettable. Half an hour ago, death was an abstract notion. Now, he knew who his constant passenger was.
My friend N., who teaches motorcycle safety in Winnipeg, was on the Perimiter Highway when his chain broke and wrapped itself around his leg. He lived because of his leathers - the leg was broken, and he’s got this awesome scar with the pattern of the chain around his right thigh, but he was picked up within 15 minutes and taken care of. If he’d been wearing shorts, it probably would’ve taken the leg clean off and he’d have bled to death.
I’m not out of them yet.
Any biker bunch will be able to add to the list. The point is, you are only in control of your own vehicle. There are two kinds of biker - those who have gone down hard, and those who haven’t yet. I love motorcycles dearly, and I miss those days when I used to ride ('93 - '96), but I got tired of the vandalism and the constant vigilance on the road. I learned to ride 13 years after my brother died - yes, it was how he was killed, but it was also how he had lived, and I had to make contact with it. That first summer, I also learned how incredibly easy it was to find yourself doing insanely dangerous things without having intended to. ('How fast does 6th gear go, anyway? Oh, I’m doing about 180 kmh; guess I’d better slow down.)
As long as you and your son know what you’re getting into, it’s a great way to get around. Just don’t pretend that it’s safe.