Imagine if you went through your life constantly hearing how many people die while doing an activity. Not just any activity, but an activity that you love to do, that you are passionate about, that you look forward to doing every chance that you get. This is the life of a motorcycle rider.
I love motorcycles. I got my first one as an 18th birthday present to myself, it was my daily driver. I rode it to and from work no matter what the weather was: sleet, hail, cold, rain, cold rain, whatever. I have had my current bike for about a year now.
When I bought my bike, I had to endure countless horror stories of how this friend or that family member had died on a motorcycle. Seriously. This is the first thought relayed to you from many people upon buying a motorcycle. Thanks a lot, Debbie Downer! That’s quite an optimistic outlook you have on life, there! Pour me up a second round of that negativity, will ya?
I guess I imagine people mean well when they bring these things up. The only other thing I can imagine these people are looking for is a reaction of, “Oh my god! I need to get rid of this death machine right away!”
For the record: All motorcycle riders are aware of the inherent dangers of riding. This is why I took a motorcycle training course — which I fully suggest for anyone who rides — and wear protective gear. We have already heard many stories of bad bike accidents that resulted in fatalities. Some of us have had the unfortunate happen to a close friend or family member. There are several people who I think of often, who were close to me, who were victims of fatal motorcycle accidents. However, I also know people who have died in car accidents or by choking or drowning. Do I ever hear people list the horror stories before I drive to the grocery store? Before I eat dinner? Before I head to the beach? No.
According to the National Safety Council, falls around the home kill tens of thousands of people per year and are the leading cause of injury and death for people age 65 and older. Could you imagine if every time you climbed a flight of stairs you had a couple of people saying “don’t kill yourself on those things!” or reciting some story about how a loved one tumbled to their death on an escalator?
Again, I’m not saying that motorcycles aren’t dangerous. They can be. But many things in life are dangerous, especially when there are vehicles involved. Motorcycle riders have to pay extra special attention to everything: kids or animals that may dart out into the road, road hazards (potholes, etc.) and especially other drivers.
The amount of people not paying attention to the road is astounding. Despite all the texting-while-driving rhetoric, there are still far too many people who do it. There are many things in our car that distract us from the road: eating in the car, reaching for something in the back seat or looking for a CD. It only takes a split second of that distraction to result in disaster.
Motorcycle riders can’t afford that split second, so we have to pay attention to everybody else in addition to ourselves all the time. In fact, I believe it’s made me a better, more aware driver overall. You’ve no doubt seen the bumper stickers that say “Look Twice, Save a Life.” That’s the perfect way to put it. Look out for us. We’re looking out for you, too.
I do know that I am not immune to having accidents in my car or on my bike. In fact, the wife told me that if anything happens to me after writing this, she’ll kill me twice. I think that’s fair enough. However, that’s not really what makes me so careful about riding. I’m extra careful because I know that if I got into an accident on my bike and survived, she would never let me ride again! Side note: if something were to happen to me after writing this, I fully understand the irony of it and you have my full permission to laugh.
The bottom line is, there are risks with everything we do, every day. Some activities have more risk than others. But this is life, man! We’re here to enjoy it. I’d rather die enjoying life than live without truly living.