Ninety-five. That is how many people lost their lives in motorcycle crashes in Louisiana in 2017.
Here it is May 2018 and some experts are predicting that number will rise even higher this year. The year isn’t even half over and already so many of my fellow riders have been lost to impaired and inattentive drivers that I cannot accurately tell you how many have died. There is an official count, and I guess I could check it and report it to you, but right now I can tell you that it is too many.
I have been riding motorcycles since I was 13 years old. Over the years, I have lost many friends and acquaintances on the roadway. I know riding a motorcycle is dangerous. Many things that we do for fun and pleasure have risks associated with them. In choosing to ride I accept those risks. But what I do not accept is how some motorists behave when they get behind the wheel of a car or truck and get out on the highway.
Some drivers present risks that none of us should have to endure. I see it on the road nearly every time I ride.
First there are the distracted drivers. Drivers who are texting or carrying on animated conversations on their cell phones; people putting on makeup, eating, or steering with their knees; parents disciplining their children in the back seat. I have even seen people reading books and magazines while attempting to drive.
Next are the aggressive drivers, constantly changing lanes, tailgating, bullying and driving way too fast.
Finally, there are the criminal drivers who think there is nothing wrong with downing a six pack and jumping behind the wheel or self-medicating with pills or pot and attempting to make their way home after a night out on the town.
The first thing you will hear after a distracted, aggressive or drunken driver runs over one of us is “I never saw the motorcycle,” or “they came out of nowhere.”
The truth is, you cannot see what you are not looking for and you especially cannot be looking for anything very well if you are not paying attention, or worse yet, are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
May is Motorcycle Awareness Month. A time when we encourage drivers to be on the lookout for motorcycles. But really, every day of the year everyone behind the wheel should be on the alert for motorcycles.
Recently a friend told me of a game she and her husband play with their children when they are out riding. She says to keep the kids occupied she asks them to count motorcycles. I remember doing the same thing with cows on family trips when I was a little girl. Counting motorcycles however has an added benefit, it teaches young people to be looking for them when they are on the highway. Remember, you cannot see what you aren’t looking for.
To the drivers out there who do not ride, please pay more attention when you get behind the wheel of your car, truck or SUV. Slogans like “look twice and save a life” and “watch out for motorcycles,” should be second-nature to all who drive. Both are really good advice. Now I have a new one, “count motorcycles.”
And to my fellow riders, let’s do our part too and ride safely and responsibly. Make yourself visible, wear protective gear and by all means never ride while impaired, distracted or angry. We spend a lot of time asking the motoring public to watch for us so let’s make sure that when they see us we are acting responsibly. Finally, support organizations that promote and encourage motorcycle awareness and safety. Since 2005 I have been a member of MAC, the Motorcycle Awareness Campaign. MAC is a non-profit organization made up of fellow riders who are determined to make our highways and byways safer for motorcyclists. MAC is perhaps best known for the familiar yellow and black “Watch for Motorcycles” signs you see in yards, businesses and along roadways all over the south. Over the years they have printed and distributed hundreds of thousands of the signs. They also do much more, like organizing safety and awareness events and rallies and work with governmental agencies like the Legislature and the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to protect and preserve our rights and safety. During this special month, consider joining MAC. If we all join hands and work together, maybe, just maybe we will stop hearing the phrase, “I never saw the motorcycle.”
In recognition of National Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month in May, MAC reminds us that for motorcycle riding to become safer, the support of riders and other motor vehicles on the road is needed.
To learn more about MAC and to join us to help with our cause, you can now do so easily online!
WAYS TO HELP
There are a few ways to help our organization.
- Become a Member!
- Donate to our Organization and fund our cause
- Become a Sponsor and become featured on our website
- Spread the word with license plates, signs, and more
- Share your story if you or a loved one has been affected by a motorcycle crash