It wasn’t that long ago that tragedy was something shared by everyone in the neighborhood or community; it had a face, a name, and we easily related to those who experienced a loss. We have become a much more mobile society, changing jobs, moving to a different city and losing that feeling of community. It seems we are now overwhelmed by tragedy through the mass media to the point where we have to sometimes tune it out to survive the daily grind of life. Yet we are all still well aware of the reality that whenever there is any loss of life people are impacted in the most personal way we can imagine. When it is sudden and unexpected it comes into focus and gives us a moment of pause even if we didn’t know the person. With any degree of commonality, if we can relate to the person killed in any way….there but for the grace of God go I, or someone I know.
The most recent fatal accidents involving motorcycle riders who were in no way responsible for the accident is a case in point and should make us all think. A casual observer may say, “I don’t know anyone who rides a motorcycle and don’t understand why anyone would want to ride a motorcycle because they are so dangerous.” I have a suggestion; ask anyone you work with or a neighbor, somebody at church, the person near you at a social function, do you know anyone who rides a motorcycle? There is a very good chance they will say yes. Every person on a motorcycle is somebody’s sibling, parent, spouse, friend, neighbor, etc. and the fastest growing group of motorcyclists is women riders. Even if you don’t know anyone who rides a motorcycle, somebody you know does. The number of people who ride motorcycles increases every year for various reasons. With the current economic situation a motorcycle is an economical alternative to cars and trucks. “In the past decade, motorcycle registrations in New York State have increased by 82 percent to a total of more than 300,000. In each of the past eight years, motorcycle registrations have increased by an average of 6 percent per year. By the end of 2008, there were more than 600,000 licensed motorcyclists in New York State.” The state strictly regulates the operation of motorcycles and the police diligently enforce those laws, rightfully so. Many people who ride motorcycles now have earned their license by successfully completing a New York State-approved three-day safety course.
Motorcyclists riding today are better educated, more informed and closely monitored. There are reasons to believe the people who drive cars and trucks are not when it comes to sharing the road with motorcycles. The two most common causes of motorcycle car accidents is a driver making a left hand turn in front of a motorcycle and vehicles entering the road in front of a motorcycle. Both of these occurrences are a failure on the part of the vehicle driver to yield the right of way to the motorcyclist. This is a violation of New York State, California, Arizona, Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, etc etc etc etc vehicle and traffic laws.
No one would argue that there are people who ride motorcycles in an unsafe manner but that applies to any type of motor vehicle. Police officers who respond to car motorcycle accident will likely tell you the driver said “I didn’t see the motorcycle”. They say this under distress with all honesty….of course they didn’t, that’s why they call it an accident but the consequences are the same. When you drive, look carefully for motorcycles because the life you save will be somebody’s neighbor….the guy on your volunteer fire department….a best friend’s cousin.
Some important info:
- Most crashes between cars and motorcycles involve the car turning left at an intersection in front of the motorcycle. Look twice for motorcycles before you turn.
- Motorcycles are easily hidden in traffic. Always take a second look over your shoulder-don’t rely solely on your mirrors.
- Rain and sun glare can make motorcycles difficult to see. Take an extra moment to make sure the road is clear.
- Use turn signals to indicate your next move. This allows the rider to anticipate traffic flow and find a safe lane position.
- Cars and trucks can conceal a motorcycle traveling behind it. Take an extra moment after a larger vehicle passes before you begin your turn behind it.
- Motorcyclists make eye contact often to feel confident that other drivers see them. Please give a nod back to acknowledge them.
- Motorcyclists prefer to use a large space cushion, allowing them more time to react. Do not cut in front of a motorcyclist and eliminate the safe following distance.
- Most motorcycle turn signals do not cancel automatically. If you see a motorcycle coming, and the signal is flashing, please wait a moment for it to pass.
This article was written by Steve Snook, New York Rider Magazine.
Thanks Steve and to all you out there – ride safe!