By Don Borkoski
Naval Safety Center
Riding a motorcycle is one of the most dangerous things you will do in your lifetime.
The drivers that pass us are reckless, and the ones who go slower in front of us are inconsiderate. Or so we say. Of course we motorcycle riders are the perfect operators on the road!
Drivers in cars and trucks often do not see you on a motorcycle. There are many reasons and you as a motorcyclist need to be aware of them and take countermeasures.
- Enclosed vehicles reduce visibility for the driver. The larger the vehicle, generally the more "blind spots" there are. Never assume the driver sees you!
- The safer cars become, the more complacent many drivers become. Driver complacency is dangerous for a motorcyclist because the drivers take chances with other vehicles on the road that they know they should not. Expect the unexpected.
- Drivers and riders are more distracted than ever before. Everything that goes on that is not involved in the driving process is a distraction. Radio, talk, cell phones, texting, eating, smoking, adjusting, fixating etc. No vehicle operator is immune, and to some extent everyone, even the most cautious driver, gets distracted. As a motorcyclist you have to be vigilant. Always have an escape route. Stay away from other vehicles, as much as possible.
- Since most vehicles on the road have four wheels or more, and present a larger profile, drivers unconsciously adjust their gaze on the larger vehicles and it is easy to miss a motorcycle. Ride "big"! Move around in your lane. If you see another bike, buddy up to him. If another bike buddies up, slide to a tire track and let him have the other. Generally riding in a group of two or three makes you more easily seen and safer.
- Motorcycles are more maneuverable. You as a rider have to assume full responsibility for lane changes, and passing, especially if you are moving at a substantially different speed then the rest of the traffic.
Some of the most dangerous "places" and times to ride include:
- Through intersections
- Passed entrance and exit ramps
- Passing lanes
- Heavy traffic
- Nights and Weekends
- Passing gas stations, fast food and store entrance and exits
Let's face it; if you ride and you want to live, you have to take significantly more responsibility for yourself than you would in a car. "It wasn't my fault" is not true on a bike. If you ride and you let yourself get in a position where you are hit or where you fall, you will always pay the consequences, so it is your fault for letting it happen. Ride like you play a video game. Always stay alert! Just remember, on a bike there is no RESET button.
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