Opinion: Be aware of motorcyclists; they’re people, too

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Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I have been riding a motorcycle since July 2018. Thankfully, I have not had the experience of having a cigarette butt thrown from a car window land on me, or someone throwing out a can filled with coke and smacking me. I have, however, nearly been hit by drivers who don’t check their blind spots when changing lanes.

According to the United States Department of Transportation, motorcycle crashes involving another motor vehicle continue to account for nearly half of all motorcyclist fatalities in the United States.  Motorcyclists are inherently at more risk than motor vehicles because they lack many of the same safety features of automobiles.  From a statistical perspective, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in a crash than other motorists. 

Recently, on my way to a local council meeting, an older driver pulled out in front of me on U.S. Highway 31 South. She wouldn’t have pulled out if she would have looked closer and seen me as I was coming down the lane, but sometimes people look too late.

So, my fellow travelers, please take these few things I have to share with you to heart, because this advice can save a life.

For starters, look twice when checking your blind spots or pay extra attention when approaching intersections. Most accidents involving automobiles and motorcycles happen when a driver fails to see a motorcyclist approaching in the oncoming lane and turns left in front of the motorcyclist, cutting the rider off.

“Drivers must be aware,” said Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry in The Tribune’s article, “Motorcycles and sharing the road safely.” (http://bit.ly/2EcPZKH)

Another thing, please don’t text and drive or become distracted. Distracted driving is a factor in 40% of motorcycle accidents, according to a Wisconsin Department of Transportation estimate in 2017. (http://bit.ly/2JleF83)

It’s encouraged for motorcyclists to be defensive while riding, attentively watch other motorists, not to follow too closely, and ride like you’re invisible.

Even though motorcyclists must be defensive when riding at all times, there are even other hazards that come around again now that warm weather has arrived. For those tending to their yards, please do not blow or mow your grass clippings from your mower into the road. Hitting grass in the road is the equivalent of hitting black ice.

For those interested in learning how to ride, I encourage and implore you to take the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Riding Course (BRC). That’s the route I went down, since I didn’t have any experience with motorcycles. The course costs $200, and they provide the bike and helmet (if you don’t have one). Plus, if you pass the course, you will have a discount on your motorcycle insurance for recently completing a safety course. All they ask you to wear is a long-sleeve shirt, pants, and boots/shoes that cover the ankle. This course is for those who have little or no riding experience or for those who have been away from riding for a number of years. For more information, visit the University of Montevallo’s website at http://bit.ly/30lVNuZ.

May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, please be alert. Every motorcyclist is someone’s daughter, son, wife, husband, sister, brother, mother, father or friend.

Please stay safe.