Dodging the RoadkillClarksville, Tn — One of the first realities of riding a motorcycle is that EVERYBODY you encounter in traffic is distracted.  I always knew that the cellphone was a dangerous thing when behind the wheel, but until I started riding and mixing with traffic it became evident that distracted driving is the reality that bikers deal with.

One of the first lessons I learned was that traveling on a motorcycle is physically and mentally challenging, and if you let the frustration of dealing with distracted motorists get to you, then your brain is “mush” by the end of the day. 

The reality is, that’s the way it is and if we ride with that understanding, then we can ensure that we’re being as safe as we can.  I approach every vehicle I see with the assumption that the driver is distracted.

Mixing with traffic, whether it’s on the interstate, or a back country road, depends on everybody being at their best and we know that’s not true.  Some drivers are under the influence, some drivers are talking on the phone, some drivers are texting and driving, and some are a combination of all of the above.  

That’s the reality!

I can’t afford to constantly get upset at every motorist I encounter because I have more important things to worry about, and at the end of my ride, I will be mentally “fried.”

I don’t think that spending endless amounts of money on AD campaigns to discourage distracted driving is working because if you look at all the money spent on “drinking and driving” campaigns over the years, you realize that it’s just futile.  We’re supposed to be intelligent adults, responsible drivers, who are qualified to operate a motor vehicle.  We KNOW that impaired driving is dangerous and deadly, but we do it anyway.

“It won’t happen to me” we believe.  

“I can do this and be in complete control of my vehicle” we think.

We all know that’s a bunch of BS, and it’s just a matter of time before we’re in an accident because of it.

The reality is that you ARE distracted.   You ARE putting other motorists, and bikers, at risk, and we’re not going to have anyone tell us what to do when it comes to operating our vehicle.

Especially when it comes to the cellphone.

There are laws on the books to make it illegal to text and drive, or to be distracted, but seriously people, cops don’t have the time to enforce those laws.  It’s like a noise ordinance for loud pipes, or other “minor” offenses, the police have to decide who and when they’re going to stop someone for that.  They could spend all day writing tickets for that.

Besides, it’s just a minor citation, so a lot of motorists consider it “the cost of doing business.”

Hank Motorcycle

Hank Bonecutter

I’ve accepted the reality that every vehicle I encounter is distracted or impaired.  I ride as if each car could cause me problems.  My senses are “peaked” and I am constantly scanning my surroundings to ensure my safety.  It’s made me a better rider and I don’t make stupid mistakes.  At any moment a texting driver could “drift” into my lane, or pull out in front of me. 

I’ve found that if I prepare myself for that fact, I enjoy my ride and hopefully, arrive safely.  I would like to think that someday, everybody will realize that it’s a bad idea to drink, text, talk or do anything that keeps them from being totally focused on operating their vehicle.  But for the moment, that’s not reality.