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These days, it seems that common sense and common courtesy are becoming harder to find. This is true in all aspects of life but is painfully apparent on the road. Distractions, electronic devices, entitlement, fast food drive-thru, $8 cups of coffee, dependency on autonomous systems, and a myriad of other factors can lead to people not being fully invested in the task of driving. 


As has been discussed many times, motorists are often oblivious to other traffic and may unknowingly and unintentionally move or drift into the path of others. This is often the result of a poor decision that leads to this error in judgment. Whether this is due to impairment, emotion, or a failed attempt to multi-task, the consequences can be severe. 


Unfortunately, motorcyclists are not immune from making poor decisions. We have got to put a stop to the “self-inflicted” wounds to riders, which damages motorcycling as a whole. The human element is the primary concern, but the impact and damage caused to the motorcycling community is horrendous. Public opinion is a huge factor in how motorcyclists and motorcycling are viewed and judged by other road users, the general public, law enforcement, legislators, and everyone else.


Increases in single-vehicle motorcycle crashes are alarming. These are not right-of-way violations and no one but the rider is responsible. This is not intended to be victim shaming, but these crashes are 100% avoidable. Most of these could be avoided by responsible decision-making, as well as knowing your limits are riding within those limits.


I’ve long said that if motorcyclists could control the issue of impaired riding, we could cut the number of motorcycle fatal crashes in half. If we did that, we would be the hero of everyone in traffic safety and regulatory acts aimed at motorcyclists would be a thing of the past. You’ve heard it a million times, but we must keep repeating it, DON’T DRINK AND RIDE”.


Education and experience are critical. Knowing the right way to do things and continually practicing that method are the keys to success. If someone continues to practice something the wrong way, they will get good at doing it wrong. Make certain that you truly understand the proper way to do something. Just because someone has “gotten by” for several years, doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been doing it correctly. Maybe they’ve just been lucky. 


Once you are aware of the proper technique, don’t get lazy. Practice it often so that it is instinctive when the situation presents and you need to perform. When an emergency develops, you don’t want to be required to think about it, just react.


Then there’s the issue of stunting and street racing. Let me start by saying that I am a race fan, and I have great respect for the skills and abilities that stunt riders possess. With that said, there is a time and a place. A racetrack, exhibition grounds, or an organized show are appropriate venues. On the street, in traffic are not.


When a motorcycle, or two if they’re racing, unexpectedly blow past a little ol’ lady (or a middle-aged man, for that matter) at triple digits, it is more than a little unsettling. When a rider on their rear wheel passes or approaches another vehicle (keeping in mind that the headlight is not visible and only the dark, less-reflective areas are shown, making the motorcycle and rider virtually invisible) it is nothing short of terrifying. 


Recently, the Fishers Police Department arrested a rider for doing 104 mph on I-69 with tractor-trailers nearby while standing on the seat. There is no way to describe this other than negligent and irresponsible. In the proper environment, seeing the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Motorcycle Drill Team demonstrate this is extremely thrilling. I have vivid memories of watching “Fly-N-Jack” ride around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway standing on the seat with his arms spread wide. This is also a “trick” that Indiana Larry was famous for, but it is important to remember that he lost his life performing this stunt at a fairly low speed. 


As it turns out, the rider on I-69 wasn’t even doing the same stunt. He had risers on his handlebars and was controlling the bike that way. So he’s only standing on the seat. That’s not even a trick, it’s just stupid.


I will reiterate that I am in awe of the mad skills these “stunters” display and have great respect for the legitimate, responsible folks that do this. The things they can do on a motorcycle are truly amazing. Just remember that there is a time and place. We need to stop these self-inflicted problems that cast ALL motorcyclists in a negative light. A little common sense and common courtesy are all that we’re asking for.


Ride Safe,

Ride Free,

Jay Jackson

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