This post may come across as a bit brash. I try to keep what I write somewhat "user friendly" with clean reading, information, tips, and stories. This is the first time I've stepped out of that box to focus on some strong feelings. I have lightly expressed myself on this subject in a portion of a post last year called "The Other Side of the Ride", but not nearly as hard as I am about to do. The following post will more than likely anger someone, probably a few someone, but drivers need to change.
The Signs Don't Work
One reason I decided to write this was that May was Motorcycle Awareness Month. In DFW the electronic message signs were showing: Motorcycle Awareness Month Look Twice for Motorcycles. I saw the signs, but how many motorists paid any attention to them? All of my coworkers at work know I ride. I ride nearly every day, hang my vest on my chair and put my helmet on my credenza. They will even ask how was the ride coming to work today? I asked some of them if they knew it was Motorcycle Awareness Month. Every one of them responded, "Really?" I asked them if they had seen the big electronic signs on the freeways that had various messages about motorcycle awareness. Their response, "Really? I hadn't seen that" I asked them how could they possibly miss them? Their response? Blank stares.
The Hate In Driver's Hearts
These responses came from people I see every day of my life that know I ride and are more prone to understand there are bikes on the road than the average driver. However, since they're not affected by driver distraction as riders are, they don't care. They were so completely inattentive while driving they didn't even notice the huge electronic signs all over the metroplex freeways. I had another worker tell me this week that if a bike happened to get in her way then too bad for the biker if she just happened to hit them. She said bikes didn't concern her because the biker would lose if it came to an accident situation. I truly believe most drivers feel the same way. So where does Motorcycle Awareness Month fit into the world these people live in? It doesn't, They don't care, never did care, and never will care.
A Close Encounter With A Cager
An ironic situation happened to me last week, I had just passed one of those awareness signs and an idiot woman in her SUV came into my lane after passing the sign without checking her blind spot. I had to swerve onto the shoulder of the freeway to avoid being hit. She did finally see me after my honking when she finally looked out her window. I saw the panic on her face as she quickly veered back into the other lane. It wasn't intentional, she was simply not practicing safe driving skills, even after just passing an awareness sign, which she obviously wasn't aware of.
Observation During Motorcycle Awareness Month
Not to say all drivers are irresponsible in their ability to propel their metallic weapon of destruction along the road. There are a handful of responsible drivers out there. Unfortunately for riders, there are not enough of them. During Motorcycle Awareness Month I began watching people in their cars more intently than normal and created this list of actions I saw idiot drivers performing. Yes, Idiots. When someone partakes in an avoidable distraction while driving they are idiots no matter how elevated their resume of education extends or what employment position they hold. There might be other actions that you have seen to add to this list that I didn't observe during the month of my survey.
These Actions By Drivers Are Completely Avoidable
Texting, reading, writing, using a laptop, eating, drinking, listening to music too loud, dancing. Taking eyes off the road to talk to passengers, putting on makeup, brushing hair, and leaning their seats too far back to drive safely. Road rage, violent driving, playing with their dog. Turning around to scream at kids, slapping their kids, cleaning spills, cleaning kids, changing diapers. Getting dressed, flirting with other drivers, kissing, hugging, playing around. Hanging too much dangling crap from their rearview mirror to see properly through the windshield. Wearing sunglasses at night to look cool, tinting windows too dark to see properly at night. Not checking blind spots, too overweight to turn head to check blind spots. Not having their hands on the wheel, watching TV, and surfing the web with a smartphone or IPAD.
Driving Is Simple
Driving an automobile is a relatively simple function. Auto manufacturers have recognized the average moron behind the wheel and made vast improvements in the ability to propel a car down the road with minimal skills. Any idiot now only needs one finger to wrap around the steering wheel and one foot to push the gas pedal and brake. That really is all you need to drive nowadays. With the engineering of autos today a lot of people even steer with their knees. This leaves the imbecile behind the wheel the freedom to stick one foot up their ass and both hands-free to perform the aforementioned actions.
Automotive Manufacturers Have Caused Problems
Another contribution that enhances unsafe driving was inadvertently created by automobile manufacturers. In their effort to simplify driving for the imbecilic masses, they began heavily soundproofing the driver from outside noise distractions. They wrongly assumed this would help the driver maintain focus on driving safely. Unfortunately, this also caused a reverse effect which caused people to become less aware of their surroundings while driving. This elimination of outside noise allows the inattentive driver to melt even deeper into their personal bubble of bliss.
First responders have also been victimized by this problem. Drivers don't hear the sirens to move out of the way and in their self-absorbed stupor. It's evident they are not even looking around for signs of an emergency. Do you think they're going to hear your nice loud pipes when they're not even moving out of the way for the emergency vehicle? Not likely.
There Is Some Hope
There is a bright side to this unfortunate negative fact about the average driver that you might be pleased to know. These drivers are not the ones targeted in this post.
- If an automobile operator is also a rider, or if they have ever ridden in the past they understand a biker's position on the road and are usually more aware and respectful of the rider
- If a driver has a family member, relative, or friend that rides, they too are usually more considerate of motorcyclists because of the awareness that the rider imparted to them.
- Big Rig drivers also have a better grasp of the dangers of driving. They are trained professionals that take their chosen trade seriously. Not to say I haven't had some close situations with Big Rigs, but the amount of "close calls" with Big Rigs by far underscores those with automobiles
- Motorists that have been in a serious accident, meaning near death, have become more responsible drivers. Because their own actions while driving or someone else's actions nearly cost them their lives. They have elevated their ownership of responsibility and awareness on the road. The prospect of death is a strong initiative for a person to re-evaluate their actions behind the wheel.
- Law enforcement officers, emergency vehicle personnel, and family of these people are also more aware due to the driving awareness training they go through.
Legal Actions Against Drivers Lack Severity
The bottom line is that riders have to take safety into their own hands. Cagers don't and won't care about your life. Legal actions taken against drivers that involve motorcycles are not severe enough to encourage them to care. Unless a state legislature official is also a rider that has experienced and deals with these issues daily they won't fight for harsher penalties against drivers? They are not affected and sure as hell are not going to start a political agenda that might affect their re-election.
Some Possible Repercussions To Driver Negligence
One certain way to make cagers care is to start ruining their lives by creating and enforcing mandatory prison sentences. These would be of varying lengths depending on the severity of the accident they cause. For example, hit a biker, do 10 years. Kill a biker, life in prison, possible death penalty, no exception. What's the difference between shooting someone to death, or killing a biker with your car? I suppose this thinking is too logical for our justice system to figure out.
If penalties at this level were issued against drivers that caused bike accidents and the sentences were broadcast on the evening news, drivers would begin to care. That CEO hauling ass in their pretty BMW or Volvo would rethink their condescending self-absorbed elitist attitude when they cut off or tail gate a bike with the knowledge that if something happened they would lose everything by being locked up for a few years to life.
The most popular excuse idiot drivers use when they destroy a rider's life is: "I didn't see him, he just came out of nowhere!" This is just a driver's pathetic attempt to excuse themselves from their own lack of personal responsibility.
This rider understands…