Writer's Ramblings

Do Motorcycle Riders Make Better Drivers?

Written by  September 8, 2003

Being a rider myself; I may be a little biased, however, I truly believe that on average, experienced motorcycle riders make better drivers than your average Joe Cage Driver. The reason I feel this way is because when you ride a motorcycle, your senses must be much higher, and you must be much more alert and aware of your surroundings than when you're driving a car.

When you ride, it's critical that defensive riding techniques become second nature, and can easily mean the difference between life and death. Therefore, all good riders quickly learn that when riding a motorcycle, you must always pretend that every driver on the road is out to get you. As you well know, when a motorcycle is involved in a multi-vehicle accident, it's rarely just a fender bender, and more often than not, involves serious injuries or death.

When driving a car, I try to make the same general observations as when I'm riding my bike. I always watch for drivers turning left in front of me, I watch the front wheel of cars anxiously waiting to pull out from side streets, and I always try to avoid other driver's blind spots. While nobody's perfect, including yours truly, I have to believe I'm not the only rider who subconsciously uses their defensive riding techniques when driving a car. Then add a cell phone, coffee, kids screaming in the back seat, and you've got an accident just waiting to happen.

One thing that really drives me nuts, however, is to see a rider pull right up behind a car at a stop light or stop sign without leaving themselves an escape route in case the person pulling up behind them accidentally decides to make a motorcycle pancake. Then to add insult to injury, some riders actually take their bike out of gear, which at that point, wouldn't make any difference if they had an escape route or not! Please, if you do nothing else, always leave yourself an escape route, keep your bike in gear, and watch your rearview mirror to make sure the person pulling up behind you, and the people pulling up behind them, actually stop!

I also believe that in most multi-vehicle accidents, there is always more than one person responsible for the accident. You have the person who is legally at fault, and you have the other person who also failed to avoid the accident by using good defensive techniques.

We've all heard, and probably told a few of the stories about the idiot who pulled out in front of them, or the moron who swerved into their lane and side swiped them or ran them off the road. While the world definitely has its share of idiots and morons out driving around, it's also much easier to blame someone else than to take a little responsibility ourselves. I've had my share of accidents, both on a motorcycle and in a car, and I've always been able to look back and say to myself, 'If I'd have only done this,' or 'If I'd have only done that, I could have avoided the accident all together!' While hindsight is 20/20 we must always try to keep our foresight just as clear.

There are obvious times when accidents cannot be avoided, however, I truly believe that a great deal of them can be prevented or the severity greatly lessened if we just learn to use our heads, think ahead, and use good defensive techniques.

Well, that's all I've got to say about that, for now, so let's hear what you think!

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-Mike Schweder, Editor-in-Chief