Motorcyclists count on safe drivers

Denys Nazarov

There are currently more than five million motorcycles registered in U.S. and this number is growing steadily every year. Unfortunately the number of motorcycle injuries and fatalities is also rising.

Riders chose this mode of transportation and the risks it entails for various reasons. Some enjoy it for the economic fuel consumption, others use it to navigate increasingly congested freeways, while others climb into the saddle out of passion for the kind of exhilaration and excitement that no other form of transportation can offer.

Regardless of why we ride, we share camaraderie and the inherent dangers of being exposed to many road hazards unknown to automobile drivers. Among the deadliest of these hazards are steel cages on wheels with ignorant drivers who fail to use their turn signals or check the blind spots, all while talking on a phone or eating a burger.

In 2005, careless drivers killed 819 motorcyclists in the U.S., usually by making a left turn at an intersection in front of the approaching motorcycle or by passing and overtaking a rider, data from the Traffic Safety Report compiled by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis stated.

Automobiles have crumple zones, multiple airbags and seatbelts while motorcycle riders have to rely on quick reflexes, a helmet and perhaps a jacket with some gloves to survive a crash.

Ignorance behind the wheel stems from the drivers’ feeling of security inside a steel box that weighs thousands of pounds. Even though motorcycles don’t have any of the safety devices a car has, our lives as riders depend to a large extent on how drivers operate their vehicles.

Some drivers stereotype riders as reckless maniacs who speed without any regard for anyone’s safety. Although there are some individuals who behave in such a manner, most riders are a lot more safety-conscious precisely because they have little protection.

Due to the constantly changing traffic and road conditions, most experienced riders are good at anticipating emergency situations, but erratic lane changes or unexpected stops by car drivers cannot always be accounted for.

Occasional signs of aggression on the part of motorcycle riders are usually a result of frustration with drivers who carelessly invade the riders’ space on the road and threaten their lives.

As the number of motorcycles continues to grow in our state, drivers should become more aware of how motorcycles operate and how riders navigate the traffic. Cars have enough safety features to prevent the drivers from injuries in collisions far exceeding what a motorcyclist’s body can withstand.

So as we share the road, be mindful of those around you. Someone’s life may depend on it.