As riders, we often expect that others feel as passionately about riding and about riding safely as we do, however, that isn’t always the case.  There are measures riders could take to make their ride safer and there are measures government agencies could put into play to make the streets safer for motorcyclists.  So then, why doesn’t this happen?

For the most part, the people who work for state or federal agencies charged with creating and implementing public safety campaigns, that collect, use, and distribute statistics on accidents and fatalities involving motorcycles, and legislators who attempt to regulate riding through laws do not ride.  It is impossible for someone who does not get on a motorcycle and ride it regularly under various conditions – including but not limited to distance traveled, city vs. rural roads, variation in the time of day ridden, and a daily commute vs. recreational (long distance) riding – to have any clue how important motorcycle safety and awareness is.

In short, until you get on a bike and ride it you cannot adequately represent riders or institute measures for their protection. 

Statistics on motorcycle accidents and fatalities are lumped into long reports with every type of vehicle that is permitted to travel on the public roadways – including dump trucks, tractors, etc.  To collect data on motorcycles from those reports requires sitting down and wading through huge amounts of data to extract a very small amount of data. 

State government has received a mandate to educate the public on the presence of motorcycles because motorcycle-related fatalities continue to rise while automobile deaths decline.  Government employees charged with making the motoring public aware of motorcycles readily admit that motorcycles and motorcycle safety is but a very small part of their jobs.  I’m sure they’re model employees, but with a broad range of traffic issues to work with and no personal interest in riding can I expect them to have the same passion for safety and awareness I do? 

How effective a state’s “Share the Road” or “Watch for Motorcycles” campaign is depends on how effectively it is designed and implemented.  If a campaign is targeted to reach motorists throughout the month of May to coincide with Motorcycle Safety and Awareness month, but it doesn’t air until mid-month, has it been aggressively pursued in order to be as effective as possible, or has it met requirements for funding with the least acceptable effort? 

What does all this suggest?  It tells me that the person ultimately responsible for making my ride safer is me.

If we can’t expect the agencies to protect us, where do we stand as riders? 

We can write articles and plan events to educate on sharing the road with motorcycles, but unless law-makers enforce traffic laws and ticket those who violate a rider’s right of way, who drink and get behind the wheel of an automobile, who text and drive, chat on the phone, eat their lunch, or a hundred other things that take their attention away from their driving, all the publicity in the world is not going to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities.

We can promote the use of proper safety gear but every day I see riders in shorts, flip flops, deck shoes, etc., unconcerned with the dangers they are exposing themselves and their passengers to. 

We can lecture on the dangers of riding under the influence of drugs or alcohol, yet the percentage of motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes who have a blood alcohol level of 0.8 or higher hovers at about 29%.  I’ve been unable to show any improvement in the percentage over the last three years.  Even some groups concerned with safety hold meetings in bars.    

Rider training is important for new and returning riders, but how many riders support the implementation of laws requiring mandatory rider training?  Shouldn’t we look at the matter objectively and how it affects all riders?  Who stands to benefit the most if such a law is passed?  Is a rider coach working for an independent organization while lobbying, individually or through a group, for mandatory rider training a conflict of interest?  Will implementing mandatory rider training laws be any better received by the riding masses than the current helmet laws?

We’ve seen that as riders we must take an active role in our safety, yet when an opportunity is presented to turn out en masse to show support of motorcycle safety and awareness, we choose not to participate for one reason or another.  Are we helping or hurting ourselves in refusing to participate because we disagree with a single issue instead of looking at the big picture and turning out in numbers great enough to reach from the beginning to the end of the proposed route and shouting that we’re tired of being taken for granted?   

I couldn’t find a single rider willing to take part in a tri-state safety event because participating meant having to wear a helmet.  Heaven forbid.  Let’s sit home and complain because nothing gets accomplished.  I’m sure that’ll get more attention than a line of bikes stretching for miles along the freeway and riders having an opportunity to speak with reporters about what it’s like to ride with all the dangers and challenges we encounter on the highways. 

Ride safe and enjoy the road.  Vrumblesramblingbikerblog.  Material from this blog is copyrighted and may not be republished without consent from the author.

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