May is National Motorcycle Awareness Month in Canada and the United States, and this is a Good Thing. Drivers are only just starting to see bikes back on the road up here after a long winter, and we all need a reminder to look twice for motorcycles, especially in these days of distracted driving.
We ran a crash video at Canada Moto Guide last week – which we don’t usually do – in which a rider in Manitoba was schmucked by a transport truck that ran a red light. Police say the truck driver was seen using his phone as he entered the junction and presumably was too distracted to notice the traffic light, let alone the motorcycle. He was charged with distracted driving and running the red light and charged $406.
Zac was incensed when he heard of this. The driver almost killed a rider but was fined only a few hundred dollars? Where’s the justice? He’s got a good point, but the fact is the rider set off into the intersection just assuming the truck would stop, and it was the rider who put himself into harm’s way. Other motorists can be seen in the video to be hanging back, giving the truck space to blow through the light, but the rider set off as soon as the light turned green because, hey, that’s the way it works, right?
Fortunately, the rider, a 50-year-old father of three, was really only bruised and sore and can be seen walking away from the wrecked bike. Like Hammy Moto a couple of months ago, if he’d been just a blink-of-an-eye farther ahead, he’d likely have been killed. But if he’d been watching out for himself properly, he’d have hung back like the other motorists and nothing would have happened. He’d have complained to somebody about the idiot on the phone who blew through the light, but it would have been just a story, not a near-death experience.
So it’s great that we have Motorcycle Awareness Month, and it’s great that drivers are being urged to look out for riders. Here in the GTA this month, the road signs above the major highways remind everyone to watch out for motorcycles. But the people who really need to watch out for motorcycles the most are the motorcyclists themselves, and yes, we’re rusty after a winter of lethargic driving.
Motorcycles are wonderful, but they can be dangerous. Stack the odds in your favour by taking responsibility for your riding and when other people screw up, be prepared for it.