Just A Second You Wish You Could Have Back….
I lost a very special cousin a few weeks ago. He was a cousin by marriage, not that it mattered, who took me in as a part of his family with open arms, and despite his tough guy façade allowed me to see a side of him that not many outside his immediate family saw. He was truly a great guy who reached out immediately for those in need, whether that need was driven by personal hardship or just knowing that no matter what, he had your back.
You know the type, hardnosed, hardheaded, and with a heart as big as a mountain. If it is true what they say that “The bigger they are, the harder they fall” shock waves not only went through his family, but also the thousands of mourners who visited him both at the funeral home and his final resting place after he died.
Dean was just a carefree guy. Had a gorgeous wife and three beautiful daughters who he adored every minute of every day. Yes, he worked. Worked hard too, with a perfect safety record of which he was damn proud. The most important thing though was family. Everything was about family. Birthdays, Communions, Bat Mitzvahs, family gatherings, graduation parties, you name it. Any reason to be with family was a great reason.
A close second was his Harleys. The man loved his Harleys and he loved to ride.
Dean didn’t die of Cancer or a brain tumor. He didn’t die of a heart attack or some rare blood disease. He wasn’t murdered by gun shot or knife nor did he die in some natural disaster.
He was killed by someone who didn’t take the time to look. The other guy.
I am not by any means against motorcyclists. I myself rode dirt bikes for years as a kid and loved it. I was terrified about ever riding on main roads and never did get my license to do so. The thing is, I never trusted the other guy. Dean was killed by the other guy.
He rode for over 30 years and was a trusted rider who was careful, proactive and didn’t believe in showboating. He respected the rules of the road and the bigger and larger vehicles around him. He always remained in control; Dean just couldn’t control the other guy.
Now, two families are destroyed.
Here are some statistics that may shock you:
• According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there are 7.1 million motorcycles on the road in the United States, and over one million new motorcycles and dirt bikes are purchased every year.
• In 2008 5,290 people died in motorcycle accidents across the country – the highest number ever recorded. More recent statistics are not yet available.
• The number of motorcycle accidents and fatalities has increased every year for the last decade.
• More and more riders over 40 years of age are being killed in motorcycle crashes – a trend that reflects the aging baby boomers.
• According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you are 37 times more likely to die in a motorcycle accident than a car accident – and nine times more likely to become injured while riding a motorcycle than while driving a car.
• Last year, 14 percent of all traffic accident deaths involved motorcycles.
• There were 114,000 serious motorcycle accidents last year that involved injuries or property damage.
One major study done on this subject in the United States was the Hurt Report, which was published a number of years back. The Hurt Report concluded with a list of 55 findings, as well as several major recommendations for law enforcement and legislation.
Notable findings in the Hurt report included:
• 75% of motorcycle accidents were found to involve both a motorcycle and a passenger vehicle.
• In these accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.
• “The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents…
Careless driving has to stop. Respect for bikers is mandatory. Motorcycles are not going away and as such, your attention to them is not only requested, but demanded. Eliminating texting while driving was a good first step in protecting all vehicle passengers; now for our friends on bikes let’s stop:
• Tailgating riders
• Changing lanes without checking blind spots
• Racing them to intersections or cutting them off
• Disregarding traffic signs because at first glance we don’t see any traffic
The funny thing people, is that it is as simple as what you learned when you got your license, combined with just a little plain common decency and courtesy. Traits I know we all have.
If you think I am passionate about this subject, well I am. My daughter’s future father-in-law was critically injured a few years ago when a woman ran a traffic sign and slammed into him on his bike. After years of healing, and a subsequent stroke from the accident he is now legally blind and was forced to give up a thriving dental practice.
My future son-in law rides as well and on occasion is accompanied by my daughter. I will be honest with you; it scares the very hell out of me. While I know that he is a very responsible rider, I’m worried about the other guy.
Please watch for them on the road, I hold their safety in your hands.