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Check Engine Light

Don’t you just love the Check Engine light in your car or truck? The Check Engine light, part of the onboard diagnostic (OBD) system, tells you when something under the hood needs your attention. While the indicator light is actually a component of your vehicle’s emissions system, the computer monitoring your engine, including the emissions systems, could provide even more information about the health of your power plant.

"Aren’t you an integral part of your motorcycle and its smooth operation?"

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Check Engine light on your motorcycle? Not necessarily connected to an emissions system, the alarm would forewarn you of any impending problems that could strand you on the side of the highway. This alert system might allow you to take care of the problem on your schedule and perhaps preclude the need for any road-side wrenching.

What about a Check Engine light for you? After all, aren’t you an integral part of your motorcycle and its smooth operation? Isn’t it as important that you are properly functioning as it is for any other part of your motorcycle? A rolling billboard for a healthcare provider proclaimed, “Your car has a check engine light. You don’t.” 

While the truck-side sign may have been talking about your physical and mental health, couldn’t it have just as easily implied your physical and mental skills? Don’t you need to stay focused on your riding at all times? Isn’t it critical to be vigilant in your search for signs of trouble brewing that could end your ride unexpectedly? What are the consequences if your “save your bacon” skills, like swerving and stopping quickly, aren’t finely honed when they’re suddenly needed on the roadway?

Some people say that most motorcycle crashes are at least partially the fault of the nut between the seat and the handlebars. Whether you agree with that statement or not, the fact remains that there is rarely a single cause of most crashes. Further examination of the situation leading up to the crash normally reveals an interaction of several factors playing a role in the ride’s unanticipated end. The elimination of any one of these factors might allow the rider to avoid becoming involved in the unfortunate incident.

Approaching the intersection, did you dismiss the oncoming car in the left lane because eye contact implied the driver would wait for you to clear the crossroad before turning? What if the you had slowed a little or covered your motorcycle’s controls just in case the driver wasn’t able to correctly calculate your speed or distance because of your smaller profile? Would you have been able to prevent an impact if you were more proficient in using both brakes properly to bring your bike to a quick stop?

Clearly the scenario suggests the driver was at fault for the crash, but because of your vulnerability on a motorcycle, you need to accept a larger share of the responsibility for your safety on the road. Is this necessarily fair? No, but neither is the greater loss you’ll experience in a crash than the other vehicle’s driver. You know your exposure to risk is greater on a motorcycle and you’ve accepted that risk in return for the enjoyment of riding.

To increase your odds on the road and enhance your safety, you can’t afford to allow your mental alertness to deteriorate due to fatigue or other things rolling around in your head. You can’t afford to let your physical skills erode because of lack of practice. Maybe a Check Engine light on you might help you prevent major incidents by alerting you to get your mind back in the ride or to refresh your life saving skills.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!