Slant: Be careful out there – really, really careful

Five motorcyclists died last weekend in Alberta. Five.

Yes, we see a lot of news pieces on motorcycle fatalities this time of year, but that’s the worst weekend I can remember since I started working at CMG.

It’s a sad time for the province’s riding community, and we offer our condolences to these riders’ family and friends who lost a loved one last weekend, but for the rest of us riding motorcycles out there, what can we learn from this tragedy?

The five riders who died were killed in four separate crashes. According to CBC, one woman was killed “after losing control of her bike on Yellowhead Trail and Anthony Henday Drive in Edmonton. The motorcycle went up on the embankment and crashed into the underside of the overpass.

The same article tells us “A man in his fifties was killed after colliding with a car near Beiseker, while another man was killed near Lethbridge.

According to a CTV piece, the Lethbridge fatality occurred when “An adult male on a motorcycle, facing north on Highway 23, came to a stop on the highway as he waited to make a left hand turn. An oncoming southbound pickup truck collided with the stationary motorcyclist.

By Saturday morning, three riders were dead. A few hours later, another rider and pillion were killed when “A motorcycle drove into an SUV crossing Highway 16 at Highway 830 just east of Edmonton at about 8:15 p.m. Sunday” (CBC link).

In these four fatal crashes, three were collisions between motorcyclists and vehicles. As every motorcyclist already knows, you have to be very wary of car drivers. As yesterday’s video showed us, they’ll even back right over you before stopping. That video was also filmed in Alberta, by the way …

But an equally important lesson is, we can’t necessarily trust ourselves either. Don’t get me wrong – you need self-confidence to ride safely, but at any time of the year — especially in the spring — you need to mentally check yourself.

Of course, there are some things you can never protect yourself from. But are you really paying attention? Are you riding faster than your skill level? Are you watching the road closely enough to avoid danger when it pops up?

As riders, we won’t reform car drivers to the point where they never hit us and many car drivers are incapable of driving well anyway; there are drivers on beginner’s licenses, there are senior citizens who can’t see well or react quickly, and there is always the wild card of an impaired driver.

I’m certainly not blaming the victims in these crashes, and I’m not telling you to slow it down and buy a scooter. However, we can mentally up our own game to reduce the dangers. Look twice at stops. Check your mirrors constantly. Leave yourself an escape route. Don’t trust loud pipes or a hi-viz jacket to save your butt – work on your own skills, stay focused on the ride.

We cannot control what other vehicles do around us but we can control how susceptible we are to the idiocy of others and hopefully avoid becoming another statistic a result. Your motorcycle has a clutch, a throttle and brakes. Master those controls, along with your thought processes, to keep yourself alive. Don’t just use them to have fun – use them in a way that helps your survive, so we can avoid another weekend like last weekend in Alberta.





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