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Share the road

April 16, 2014

You may be thinking, “Oh no, not another lecture on looking out for motorcycles.” The short answer: Yes, deal with it.

Aside from yesterday’s dusting of snow, the weather is getting better. And with that comes the shedding of our winter wardrobe, the roar of lawnmowers on Saturday mornings and motorcyclists on the road.

We even noticed a personal watercraft sitting aside a garage as if it was awaiting a tune-up. Visions of people enjoying a a warm summer day come easily.

Many years ago — OK, many, many years ago — I was an avid bicyclist in my teens. Even after I got my driver’s license, I continued to go on lengthy bike rides, always following the traffic laws. To do otherwise in New Jersey — which has the highest density of population and vehicles in the nation — is suicidal.

So I guess it came naturally, that I would look out for all vehicles as I drove through the stark concrete and asphalt jungle that somehow still bears the name “Garden State.”

That doesn’t make me a better driver. In fact, it really makes me have to be more cautious in the wide open spaces of rural America.

It’s easy for many of us to just tool along without giving much thought to the fact that you are driving a machine that weighs a couple thousand pounds and is, in effect, a lethal weapon.

Recent studies have shown that we really don’t think much as we drive. Some have shown that oftentimes, we actually have a difficult time remembering any given portion of a drive. How many times have we made our regular commute, get to work or home and can’t remember details from the trip.

“The car knows the way,” we often joke.

With such complacency, it can be easy to make bad decisions.

Maybe we think the motorcyclist can stop in a shorter distance, so we have “plenty of time.”

The highway is no place to test the laws of physics, not to mention ignoring the reaction time of the motorcyclist.

Perhaps we think we can pass the hay wagon in front of us even though a motorcyclist is headed our way in the oncoming lane.

“They have plenty of room to move over,” the thinking goes.

Such arrogance should not go unpunished.

Unfortunately, it’s usually the motorcyclist that takes the punishment.

Some say we’re not hard wired to respond to the single headlight. If this is the case, all the drivers of cars with a headlight out — and there are plenty of them — would be taking their lives into their own hands every time they get on the road.

The answer, we believe is inattentiveness. We need to be aware of our surroundings. We need to be aware of what we are doing. And once we are aware of our surroundings and know what we are doing, we need to share the road.

— Tom Wehrhahn Managing editor

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