My Daddy Rides a Harley. Please Share the Road With Him.
Dear Motorists of the World,
Last month my daddy was riding his motorcycle home to me and was rear-ended by an SUV. The driver of the vehicle was distracted by her phone and didn't notice that daddy had slowed to make a turn.
This is the third time daddy has been struck by a car while riding his bike. In all three cases the drivers of the cars were violating traffic laws. Luckily he wasn't hurt this time.
Why am I writing this? To raise more awareness about sharing the roads safely with motorcyclists. Bikers are people too.
They are bankers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and dear friends.
One week after my daddy's accident, another biker was not so fortunate. He was struck from behind by an intoxicated driver, (also in an SUV). The rider was thrown almost 200 feet and was killed on impact.
This was only a few miles away from where my daddy was hit. The difference in this case was that both the car and the motorcycle were going at highway speed, whereas daddy was in town.
Even in town, at a slow speed, he could have lost control of his bike if he had been a few inches closer to making that turn. That's how close my daddy came to not coming home that day.
Motorcycles Are Here to Stay. Lets Keep the Riders Too
With gas prices soaring, more and more people are buying motorcycles. They aren't just for leisure or show. They are an economical alternative to driving automobiles.
In recent years, emissions standards and new design practices are increasingly making motorcycles eco-friendly as well. People of all age groups are ditching their gas guzzlers in favor of two ( and sometimes three ) wheels.
With every bike, there is at least one rider. There may be two. Automobile drivers may not like motorcycles, but that doesn't make it okay to endanger the humans on board. Motorcycles have been a common part of our world since the early 1900s. They may be a bigger part of our future. Hopefully, the riders will be too.
Motorcycles Are Still Taking the Rap
Even though motorcycles are becoming increasingly more popular, they still have a bad reputation when it comes to safety. When operated correctly, motorcycles can be just as safe as cars and trucks.
While there may be some ill-informed persons who still believe that motorcyclists are solely to blame for all accidents, studies from the National Highway Safety Administration (U.S.) do not concur with this assumption.
The only truly dangerous motorcyclist is an intoxicated rider or a distracted rider. This is true for any motorized vehicle or heavy equipment operator. The message is clear: If you drink, don't drive or ride!
Remember, in the time it takes you to read a text message, a motorcycle could have entered your blind spot. Texting and driving is just as dangerous as driving under the influence!
More Bike Accidents Caused By Automobiles
A leading cause of motorcycle-related crashes is negligent automobile operators. In most instances, these wrecks were caused by distracted drivers. Apparently, the most common types of accidents happen when drivers turn or drive across the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
Even though motorcycles can stop sooner than larger vehicles in some instances, a sudden stop or a swerve can cause a rider to lose control of the bike. If a group of motorcycles are close together, such as at an intersection, this can cause a series of accidents.
In 2010, 51% of all motorcycle accidents were caused by other vehicles. 39% of those accidents happened because the vehicle was crossing or turning into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.
Other causes are head-on collisions and rear-end collisions. It is crucial for drivers of automobiles to look at least twice before pulling through or turning at intersections or across traffic.
Motorcycles are equipped with the same safety features as four-wheeled vehicles. By law, motorcycles must be operated with the headlight on at all times to improve visibility. They must have brake lights, turn signals and horns. However these safe devices are useless unless the surrounding drivers of automobiles are aware and alert.
- Never Drink and Drive
- Don't text or read texts while driving
- Look twice or more before turning or crossing at intersections
- If you are listening to loud music, you may not hear a bike, so be sure to watch closely
- Always assume there may be a motorcycle nearby
- When passing cars, make sure you can see ahead of them. A large vehicle can obscure a motorcycle from your sight.
- Give plenty of warning when you make turns
- Try to avoid sudden stops
- Don't ride too close behind motorcycles
- Avoid crowding or otherwise forcing a bike into traffic or onto a the shoulder where they could easily flip
- Be extra vigilant at night, and on cloudy days
What You Should Know about Motorcycles On The Road
Along with the misconception that motorcycles can stop on a dime, here are some other assumptions drivers make about motorcyclists 'road behavior':
Weaving-Doesn't mean intoxication. They are gently weaving to avoid road hazards that you cannot see in your car. A small oil slick, a handful of loose gravel, a glass bottle, or an uneven piece of asphalt are all potential hazards to a biker. You may also see them weave closer to the inside of the lane or toward the outside. This is to avoid uneven or worn asphalt or to give them better visibility.
Ganging Up-Bikers don't ride in groups to be intimidating to other drivers. They ride in groups because they enjoy the companionship of other motorcycles. It is also safer, especially on long trips. Riding in a group makes the motorycles more noticeable by other drivers, and bikers can alert each other to hazards. Riding in groups has also become a way to deter people from hassling motorcyclists when they have to stop for breaks.
Bikers also travel in groups for events such as charity runs. In these cases, they are following a set course that has been cleared by all law officials along that route. Usually they will be in sets of ten or more, but not all bikes can travel at the same speed. Just because you think the entire group has passed, be on the look-out for more smaller groups or lone bikers following behind.
Goofing Around-You may have seen bikers doing some pretty interesting choreography on the road. They might be traveling side by side, only to switch places, fall back, or allow other bikers to go ahead of them. They aren't playing around. They may choose to return to a staggered or single file position due to wind gusts or traffic and construction in the neighboring lane.
They often fall back if a vehicle in front of them is emitting too much exhaust or throwing back debris. Don't just watch the motorcycles, watch the traffic beside or in front of the bike as well to determine how they might have to react on short notice. They may also be trying to stay in YOUR line of visibility.
Bad People - While it is true that some felonious biker gangs do exist, most motorcycle enthusiasts are simply people who like the freedom of riding in the open air. They come from all walks of life, income groups, and age groups. They organize charities and benefits, raise families, go to church, coach little league baseball or rescue homeless animals. Just like any other driver, they deserve the chance to travel the road in comfort and safety.
Before You Go
It only takes a view extra seconds of your life to look over your shoulder and check your mirrors. The same amount of seconds it takes to look at your phone, the radio dial or your reflection in the mirror.
Those seconds could be spent saving lives. Remember that the protective gear a biker wears cannot compete with the reinforced body of an automobile. A simple swipe that might only put a dent in your fender could kill a rider.
My daddy rides a motorcycle, and when I grow up, I want him to be here to teach me to ride too. Please make the roads safer not only for today's bikers, but for those of the future.
One month after my daughter and I wrote this, three of our friends were involved in a bad collision. A car used a right signal light, then turned left into the lane the motorcycles were using. The friend in front was able to swerve, but the couple behind him crashed into the car.
The guy suffered broken ribs, and his wife a broken wrist and a punctured leg. The police report in the paper cites that the lady driving the automobile knew her left signal light wasn't working, so used her right one, thinking that it wouldn't be a problem.
Please do not be this irresponsible. Maintain the safety features on your car as soon as possible, and in the meantime, use the proper hand signals! These bikers were very fortunate. Others are not.