Motorcycles Do’s and Don’ts.
Whether most people realize it or not, a “new” holiday is in swing. Saint Patrick’s Day? No. This is a holiday season you may not expect: Motorcycle season. For most bikers, the season has just begun as temperatures have started to rise in North Carolina and all across the country. Motorcycles are seen as “dangerous” and “reckless,” but why? I wanted to discuss the do’s and don’ts around motorcycles and why they are seen as so dangerous.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2013, 4,668 motorcyclists were killed, and an additional 88,000 motorcyclist were injured. Furthermore, from 2004 to 2013 the fatality rate increased sixteen percent. These numbers are quite alarming, and after reading, one would wonder why people still ride motorcycles.
Kyle Bergene, an Apex High School alum (’16) rides a Suzuki DR200 because “it brings him joy and peace, and it is very fun.” I had the opportunity to sit down with Bergene and discuss some safety issues and concerns he has as a rider and how drivers can prevent causing accidents with motorcyclist.
Kyle said one of largest things is “drivers need to use their turn signals.” Videos all over YouTube show drivers not using their turn signals while changing lanes. Using your turn signals gives time for the motorcyclist to react and adjust depending on your next move. Another huge safety tip concern is “not getting to close behind a motorcyclist at lights and always looking when changing lanes.” Getting behind a motorcyclist too close at a light can be a recipe for disaster. The biker may feel enclosed or even get hit. It is important to look twice when changing lanes. Whether you’re blaring music or simply distracted, changing lines too fast could cost a motorcyclist’s life. It is important to give them space while driving and at lights.
Another crucial factor Bergene mentioned is turning, “Don’t swing left to turn right, or swing right to turn left. Only semi-trucks and long vehicles should have to do that.” When you’re turning, it is important to stay in your lane. When turning, you should not cross the line unless you must. If a motorcyclist is near, and you do this it, can cause them to think they may get hit or popped.
Alex McClure, Apex High School alum (‘16) who rides a 2000 Suzuki Katana 600 and Harley Sportster 1200, says he rides motorcycles because “it is fun and like nothing you have ever done. It is like a rollercoaster you are in control of.” He says it is “important to come to a complete stop at a light and stop signs,” as well as “keeping a constant speed and being vigilant.” These are all crucial factors to consider. I am sure we all have seen people run a red light or blow right there a stop sign. McClure also mentioned that “motorcycles like to weave in and out of traffic.” Most people think it is dangerous for motorcyclist to do this, but this is for their safety, to either view the traffic ahead or stay out of a dangerous situation. But what is the exact reason to consider motorcyclist safety?
To truly grasp why it is important why the safety of motorcyclist is considered, I asked Kyle and Alex each for one scary motorcycle story. I first asked Bergene what his scariest moment was. “I started going through a corner, and I was near the double yellow line. In the middle of the turn, a minivan crossed the line. I had to throw myself and barely missed getting hit. I then almost ended up running off the road, but I saved it.” This relates back to not turning wide on turns and staying in your lane. This encounter could have had deadly consequences. The next story was from McClure. “I was riding down South College road in Wilmington, NC. When I was riding, I saw the aftermath of a shattered motorcycle all over the road. I next saw pieces of skin on the ground. It really opened my eyes as to what could happen to me if I am not careful.” It is only seen as real when we hear true story’s from real riders.
It is very important to consider the life of these motorcyclists. A simple “fender-bender” could only jolt a person in a car but could cost the life of a motorcyclists. Motorcycles are fun to watch and ride. It is important this motorcycle season to keep the safety of our fellow drivers in mind. Let’s make this motorcycle season a safe and fun one to remember!