So many of the things we do in life carry unique benefits and dangers and motorcycle riding is certainly no exception. While we savor the freedom that comes with our motorcycles, we must be mindful of the risks we take every time we strap on our helmet. Consider these risks and then please consider the ways that are suggested to make the riding experience safer.
I. “I swear I didn’t see him”
What is it that makes motorcycles and their riders invisible? You’d think that they had the supernatural ability to pop in and out of the visible dimension, based on what some car drivers have said following accidents involving motorcycles. How is it possible that all of that chrome and metal is rendered suddenly transparent? Is this why so many motorcyclists wind up being injured because a car suddenly makes a left-hand turn in front of them?
II. No, we’re not invisible
There are many reasons that automobile drivers fail to see a motorcycle that they are sharing the road with. Consider that over 75% of the automobile and motorcycle related collisions are a result of the car impacting the motorcycle head-on; a pattern begins to emerge. It can be very dangerous to pass a car because that car may suddenly turn, and in a damage contest between a car and a bike it is the motorcyclist who is most likely to sustain grave injuries. There aren’t any air-bags on a motorcycle.
III. Who built this road?
It’s important to keep in mind that the roads we travel on are designed with automobiles and trucks in mind. Motorcyclists are travelling on a system that was built to accommodate cars, with bike-riders an afterthought. We also find that there can be fixed-object accidents that would be a mere inconvenience to a car, but disastrous to a motorcyclist. That pothole ahead may be a simple denture-rattler to the car driver, but a motorcycle rider may become airborne off his or her bike and sustain serious injuries. A patch of slick road can send a car into an embankment with the driver receiving only minor injuries while a cyclist in that situation may suffer life-endangering damage.
IV. A defensive strategy
For just a practical moment, set aside the fact that motorcycles have just as many rights to be on the road as cars and trucks. Motorcyclists, after all, pay taxes that build and maintain those roads. Motorcyclists have to pass mandated examinations to be licensed and they are required to keep their bike in safe operating condition. Yet none of those facts will protect a law-compliant rider from a distracted automobile driver.
This is why it is vital to employ a two-pronged defensive strategy when sharing the road with cars and trucks:
1. Slow down
2. Assume they can’t see you
By slowing down, even by 5-10%, you increase your reaction time. By slightly decreasing your speed you dramatically increase the amount of control you have if an unexpected situation arises. Second, while it seems particularly unfair to be doing a portion of their driving for them, you really have a better chance of reaching your destination if you do whatever you can to help out the cars on the road. Most automobile drivers are decent folk who are not looking for trouble, but the vast majority of them can be distracted or traveling in a hurry, usually to the detriment of the motorcyclist. Don’t let their lack of training or attentiveness interrupts you on your journey, either on the road or in life in general. Keep riding safely!
This article was provided by R. Swingle, blogger for Rue, Ziffra & Caldwell. He is an avid blogger who enjoys researching and writing on various topics.
Seasoned London commuter, doing my best to stay rubber side down and never stop moving forward.