The idea that motorcyclists “share” the road with cars is ridiculous. Drivers have little intention of sharing the road with anyone but other cars and even that’s a stretch at times. Motorcyclists, ya right. They’re fine with us being on the road as long as we stay the hell out of their path.
First, the typical driver gives little if any thought to the motorcyclist. Why should they? The typical driver rarely encounters a motorcycle and the sad truth is he or she is more likely watching for a deer or a dog running in front of them.
Lets look at the car it’s self. The average car is loaded with distractions to keep the driver occupied from the mundane task of watching the road and guiding the car. They have individual climate control, cruse control, seat heating, satellite radio, CD, MP3, ipod, GPS guidance and personal theater units that the driver can control. Let’s not forget cruise control. Oh, and laws or not, the driver will likely be talking, texting or accessing the Internet while fiddling with the other gadgets in the car. This gives the driver little time to look out the window, use turn signals or watch out for motorcycles.
There is a continual push to educate drivers and have them see and avoid hitting us and yet motorcyclists are still being hit. I’m all for making it safer for me to ride the highways and byways built for cars, however educating drivers to watch for us will do little, in my opinion. There are too many of them to educate and most already think they’re the best driver on the road.
Research into cause of motorcycle accidents is poor quality and it’s out of date, however some trends can be seen. Based on what has been studied, between 25% and 48% of motorcycle accidents involve just the motorcycle, with the motorcyclist either hitting a stationary object or going off the road. There are a few factors in these accidents, but the main ones are alcohol or drug impairment, excess speed and inexperience. In short, we can reduce our own risk of accident and injury by riding sober and clean, matching speed to the road conditions and by taking courses to become better riders.
The greatest number of accidents involving motorcycles is caused by a car and a motorcycle meeting at the same time in the same space. The numbers tell us it’s usually the car that’s in the wrong, with the car either turning in front of the oncoming motorcycle or failing to yield at an intersection. Here’s the scary statistic, in many of the accidents the driver of the car or the rider of the motorcycle was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This should be sobering and if it isn’t, well… it should be!
Sure, there are laws that tell people not to operate a car or motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, like there are laws in most areas that tell people not to text, talk or access the web on a device while driving. Those laws have FAILED! Why? Because there too few police to enforce those laws and more to the real point, people think they’re safe by doing those things. No one is more shocked then the driver when they do cause an accident. Thousands die each year as a result of drunk drivers and people still don’t get it.
Here’s how I see it. I’m in the best position to keep ME safe on the road and I would rather improve my riding, observation and avoidance skills then rely on the education of the car driver. By riding clean and sober I improve my chance of staying safe and alive significantly. Other riders have the same choice and power and this alone will reduce the number of accidents involving motorcycles. Remember any “interaction” between a car and motorcycle will end badly for the rider of the motorcycle, regardless of who’s at fault.
It’s me against them and I’m going to win!