Attention Car Drivers — READ THIS

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Cell phones. Applying make-up. Texting. Reading. Reading and texting. Eating giant hoagies while talking on the phone. Shaving. Going through spreadsheets. Is there anything a car driver can’t do while driving? Oh yeah, pay attention. I’ve seen all of the above while cruising down the freeway and it makes me insane.

According to the February 2008 issue of Brain Research, even if a driver is using a hands-free cell phone, there’s a 37 percent drop in activity in the region of the brain used for navigation (Thanks MSF for that tidbit.)

With May being Motorcycle Awareness Month, I’d like to share these tips for drivers from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Yes, I know there are some ayehole motorcyclists out there, but the majority of us aren’t. And most of us have families and jobs and lives that we’re pretty fond of and we don’t want to end up the losers in an “Oh my god, I didn’t see him,” situation.

1. Look for Motorcyclists – Use your eyes and mirrors to see what’s around, and check the blind spots when you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections. Look, and look again.
2. Focus on Driving – Hang up the phone, put down the MP3 player, settle the passengers, and drive. And NO texting.
3. Use Your Turn Signals – Signal your intentions for everyone’s safety.
4. Give Two-Wheelers Some Room – Don’t tailgate or pass too closely.
5. Take Your Time – Nothing is as important as the safety of your loved ones, yourself, and the others with whom you share the road.

Now that you’ve read those tips and committed them to memory, here are 10 things all drivers should know about motorcycles. Really, this is serious stuff here.

1. Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Most of the time, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault. There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don’t “recognize” a motorcycle – they ignore it (usually unintentionally).

2. Because of its small size, a motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots (door/roof pillars) or masked by objects or backgrounds outside a car (bushes, fences, bridges, etc). Take an extra moment to look for motorcycles, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.

3. A motorcycle may look farther away than it is. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, predict a motorcycle is closer than it looks.

4. Motorcyclists often slow by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Allow more following distance, say three or four seconds. At intersections, predict a motorcyclist may slow down without visual warning.

5. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily and to minimize the effects of road debris, passing vehicles, and wind. Understand that motorcyclists adjust lane position for a purpose, not to be reckless or show off or to allow you to share the lane with them.

6. Turn signals on a motorcycle usually are not self-canceling, thus some riders (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off after a turn or lane change. Make sure a motorcycle’s signal is for real.

7. Maneuverability is one of a motorcycle’s better characteristics, especially at slower speeds and with good road conditions, but don’t expect a motorcyclist to always be able to dodge out of the way.

8. Stopping distance for motorcycles is nearly the same as for cars, but slippery pavement makes stopping quickly difficult. Allow more following distance behind a motorcycle because it can’t always stop “on a dime.”

9. When a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle – see the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor, or relative.

10. If a driver crashes into a motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian and causes serious injury, the driver would likely never forgive himself/herself.

And finally, as if all this isn’t enough, here’s a great video showing the hazards of texting while driving. (Replace texting with any of the examples in the first paragraph and you can expect the same results.)

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