Tuesday, November 29, 2011
The Joys of Learning to Ride - Distracted Driving
During my time learning to ride and making my way to becoming a motorcyclist, I've done a whole lot of catching up on what's going on in the motorcycle community. Reading blogs, magazines and articles daily, my education has hardly stopped since I passed my motorcycle riding class.
It seems like lately there are a whole lot of editorial articles in motorcycle magazines and websites about distracted driving. And there's no question about how much of an epidemic texting, tweeting and even eating or drinking has become. Drivers used to have their hands on ten and two and all the attention of the round and their surroundings. But now, drivers are more worried about who put what on Facebook ten to two minutes ago.
Still, this comes as no surprise to most motorcycle riders nor does it shock me. We all know how much more dangerous the use of handheld devices and their plethora of technology make the road for everyone, particularly two wheeled riders. In an attempt to curb the mayhem, some states have even thrown down huge fees for those who practice distracted driving.
But my question isn't whether or not there's an issue today with people texting and driving and the fact that it endangers the lives of riders. My question is why are we writing about it to other motorcyclists? I have never seen a motorcyclist texting while riding (ok except for in that one stunt video) and most riders who are forced to drive every now and then are typically more aware than perma-cagers as is. So why are we describing how addicted people are to their technology even behind the wheel to each other? I feel like we should be telling the people who are the problem.
So a little digging brought me to the American Motorcyclist Association's (AMA) website and their stance on distracted driving. Now, if you happen to have been living under a rock and don't know who the AMA is, they're a dedicated group put together to enforce safe riding and advance motorcycle and ATV friendly legislature. So of course they have a stance on distracted driving.
But they also propose a solution, something that many of the articles I read in motorcycle publications don't do. Instead of just ranting and raving about how today's society is so addicted to technology that they can't put it down long enough for the drive home from work, they take a legal position that could help stop this epidemic. "Because roadway users such as motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians pay a disproportionally higher price for motor vehicle operator distraction and inattention," states the AMA, "(We) support legislation that includes enhanced penalty options to be determined by the courts."
Long story short? If a driver causes an accident while paying attention to something other than their driving, the courts can slam them with a punishment equal to something such as driving under the influence. Comparing distracted driving to drunk driving may get the point across to our technology loving car drivers on how dangerous it really is. And if that still doesn't do the trick, chances are the risk of severe punishment will at least sway them from doing it.
In my opinion, for whatever it's worth, it's not the fault of technology that people just can't put down their phones, GPS or iPod's long enough to drive, it's the fault of a lack of awareness to the issue. Sure, we, as motorcyclists, may be aware that distracted driving is extremely dangerous because it affects us so much more dramatically, but the people actually partaking in distracted driving don't really understand the full depth of the issue.
Want to fix the problem? Stop talking to other riders about it and start talking to DRIVERS about it. Go check out the AMA's stance on the legislature that they believe should be passed to help decrease the amount of riders who's lives are forever changed by a driver's focus on Facebook rather than the road because they just didn't think it was that big of a deal. And if you're not already a member of the AMA, look into joining. Not only do they talk about issues involving the motorcycle community, they actually do something about it. Plus a heck of a lot of motorcycle vendors give great discounts to AMA members. As a matter of fact, check out how becoming an AMA member can get you 10% off on your BikeBandit.com purchases: Partnership Information.