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Just Say Ahh…

Just Say Ahh…

Ahhh, May…A beautiful season in North Texas to be on the road. The bluebonnets are blooming, the big Texas sky is clear and bright, and the roads are, for the most part, dry. Even for the daily commuter, it’s a nice drive to and from work.

But suddenly there’s the sound of squealing tires, breaking glass, crashing metal…and as the dust and engine steam clears, you’re stunned by the sight of the mangled mess of a motorcycle strewn across the road…and where’s the rider? A nightmare scenario, repeated too often on our Texas highways. A moment’s inattention, and a rider is injured or even killed, and the repercussions are horrific for everyone involved. Every biker is someone’s coworker or neighbor, and every hurt biker has a family, friends, and loved ones who suffer with them.

The same is true for drivers; the injuries and physical suffering may be less, but the emotional toll is great for the motorist and his family. Being the unintentional cause of injury or death to a fellow human being is devastating to a moral person’s conscience, and is an often overlooked side effect of traffic accidents. Here’s what you as a driver can do to avoid that tragic situation:

PAY ATTENTION. Talking on the cell phone distracts you more than you think, and in the second or two that your eyes are off the road while you answer calls or change radio stations, anything can happen.

LOOK TWICE. Because of its small size, a motorcycle can easily be hidden by objects inside or outside the vehicle, and may look farther away than it is. Also, bikers adjust position within lanes to be seen more easily, to adjust for wind and passing vehicles, and to avoid road hazards. It only takes a couple of seconds to look each way twice.

MAKE ALLOWANCES. If it’s raining or dark, the single lights can blend in with other traffic, so watch out. If traffic is slow or stopped, let that biker with his signal on over in front of you or to the shoulder; motorcycle engines are air-cooled, so they need to stay moving.

STAY BACK. You know how you hate it when another vehicle is tailgating you right on your bumper? Imagine how it feels to someone out in the open with no metal cage around them. Remember that motorcycles often slow down by downshifting, thus not activating the brake light, so give us extra following distance. If two people are on a bike, balance is more difficult, stopping distance increases, and maneuverability is reduced, so back off even further.

Bikers, YOU must do your own part to stay safe. Take (or re-take) a Riders Safety Course. Wear protective gear. Don’t ride impaired. Pay attention. Ride Like You Are Invisible. And to everybody: Let’s be careful out there.

Motorcyclists groups across the country have joined in a “Share the Road” campaign. May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month, and the nation’s 7,000,000 motorcyclists remind drivers to watch out for them on the road. This columnist is one of them.

One Response to “Just Say Ahh…”

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