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No Thought

Have you ever wondered what other people think about you? It seems to be human nature to have such thoughts. While it may not be paranoia, everyone wants to be liked and respected. In fact, that falls in line with Maslow’s list of basic needs. However it’s been said that people would worry less about what other people think about them if they realized how seldom they do.

Talking about thinking, or not, many riders often think that traffic is out to get them. They believe every driver has a vendetta against motorcycles and wants to do things to make their lives miserable. While thinking this way may be a means of keeping you focused on your riding and what’s happening around you, it’s not an accurate portrayal of drivers.

The problem isn’t that drivers are out to get you; the problem is that they haven’t given you any thought at all. They are often so wrapped up on their own world that they’re not even thinking about motorcycles, so they don’t consciously look for you. They are accustomed to looking for larger vehicles on the road and if you don’t appear to them like a car or truck, you don’t get their attention.

"The problem is that they haven’t given you any thought at all."

Drivers’ lack of attention to bikes on the road is not helped by the seasonal layoff in many parts of the country when there are no motorcycles, or very few, on the road. You will probably never look like a car or truck on your motorcycle, but at least understanding this fact brings to light the need for increasing your conspicuity. Thinking of ways to stand out more in traffic can help increase the likelihood of other drivers seeing you on the road.

Your small size, regardless of how big you might personally be, makes it difficult for drivers to see you on the road. Your slender profile makes it very easy for you to unconsciously hide behind drivers’ windshield posts or the dice hang from their mirrors. That’s assuming that they’re not being distracted by some other activity going on in or around their vehicles.

Being seen on the road is the first step towards getting the other driver to play nicely and share the road with you, but it is not necessarily enough. Most motorists have given no thought to the differences between motorcycles and other vehicles in the traffic mix. They don’t understand how your size affects their ability to determine your speed or distance. Consequently they may see you, but still turn in front of you simply because they believe there is enough time and space to do so safely.

Ideally everyone on the road would be thinking about motorcycles and know how to judge how far away you are and how fast you are going. Share the road programs in driver’s education classes will help a little, but the education process for all drivers will be a continuing challenge for riders. In the meantime thinking like a driver can help you understand their actions on the road.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!