As a motorcyclist in Michigan, I spend the winters looking forward to the warmer weather so that I can break out the bike and enjoy the outdoors freedom sensation of the cycling experience. It is not long before I am reminded of the risks involved with motorcycling. It only takes one or two outings before encountering my first seasonal close call encounter.
Obviously, due to the Michigan climate, motorcyclist only have four or five months of good weather that they can enjoy this hobby. The problem with motorists that do not ride, is that they only see us motorcyclists during this limited riding period, making it especially hazardous in the spring when motorcyclists begin to emerge onto the roadways. Texting and driving have become one of the leading causes of distracted driving accidents.
In my riding experience, at least 30% of oncoming traffic looks like this as they zoom by me in the opposing lane while hugging or crossing the yellow line.
This is especially, common among the younger motorists. There is nothing more terrifying to a motorcyclist than imagining themselves as a hood ornament on somebody’s car because a selfish motorist cannot wait until they get to their destination or pull over to answer a text or update their status on social media.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey found 20% of drivers age 18-20 said texting does not affect their driving, and nearly 30% of drivers ages 21-34 said texting has no impact. What…really? I am sure that the perspective of those polled is probably much different sitting within a 4000-pound automobile compared to sitting on top of a 350 – 800-pound motorcycle don't you think? How tragic would it be that a family member of one of these polled was killed by a motorist that shared their text and drive philosophy?
Texting and driving is not the only distraction motorist experience. With today’s technology, drivers shift their attention from the road in other ways as well. Whether they're adjusting the radio, entering GPS destinations, eating behind the wheel, putting on makeup, or simply not paying attention to their surroundings. Regardless of what those polled said, these behaviors put motorcycle riders at risk.
The unfortunate truth is that motorcyclists stand less of a chance of being seen by other motorists. While most drivers see cars approaching, they might miss a motorcyclist especially when a motorcyclist is mixed in with other traffic. Motorcyclist can also get lost behind the A, B and C cabin pillars of an automobile or truck. Therefore, a motorist needs to look twice while approaching an intersection, changing lanes or exiting a driveway. Without performing this checklist of safe driving tactics, devastating crashes and severe injuries will likely occur. This is not a matter of IF and accident will occur, but a matter of WHEN!
Facts taken from www.nsc.org conclude that in 2017, 5,172 motorcycle riders and passengers died in crashes.
Fatalities among motorcycle riders and passengers have more than doubled in number since 1997 and make up a multitude of reasons.
Motorcycles make up 3% of all registered vehicles and only .6% of all vehicle miles traveled in the U.S.
- Motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities in 2017
- 28% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2017 were alcohol-impaired
- 91% of riders who died in a motorcycle crash in 2017 were male
Motorcyclist awareness should not come from fatality statistics nor is it the responsibility of law enforcement or government to implement more laws protecting vulnerable motorist from irresponsible motorist like the person shown here. Ultimately, the responsibility falls on all of us to share the road with each other as if our own relatives and loved ones were at risk and their lives depended on it!