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Rolling Billboards

Have you ever had a delivery or service vehicle cut you off in traffic? How did you feel about the business whose name was on the side of the truck? If it was a local business, did you inform the business of your displeasure with their driver? Maybe you saw an eighteen wheeler driving erratically on the highway. How did that event impact your impression of that carrier? Did you call the 1-800-HOW AM I DRIVING number?

No one appreciates being the recipient rude behavior, but there seems to be an abundance of it on the road these days. Most drivers subconsciously feel anonymous in their cars, SUVs and pickups and, because of this anonymity, may do things they wouldn't normally do if their names were written on the side of their vehicles. Commercial drivers aren't able to hide as easily when they commit a transgression on the roadway.

Many companies understand how their vehicles are really rolling billboards that influence public opinion of their business. They expect their drivers to be courteous in traffic and to avoid doing anything that could leave a potential customer with a poor impression of their organization. For them it's part of their public relations program as they try to enhance their image and help people feel better about them.

What about us? We always seem to be complaining that we don't get any respect on the road. Other drivers don't seem to be willing to treat us as equals and to share the road with us. How do motorists view motorcyclists? Because we often ride in groups, do they think of gangs and the images portrayed in stereotypical biker movies? Everything we do while we're riding affects how motorists view all motorcyclists. What is their perception of you and me while we share the road with them?'

"What message are you conveying for your brothers and sisters in the wind?"

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.

To gain the respect we desire in traffic, we need to look at our public relations activities as well. Whether you like it or not, your motorcycle is a billboard for the riding community and you represent all motorcyclists to those who see you on your bike. What message are you conveying for your brothers and sisters in the wind? Are you making friends or enemies of the other drivers on the road by your riding behavior?

Do you zip in and out of traffic trying to get around all that slow moving traffic? Do you give other drivers room on the road like you expect them to give you? Do you rush through an intersection as the yellow light turns from orange to red? Do you yield to others when you sometimes don't have to just to be nice? Do you demonstrate your stunt skills on the road with wheelies, stoppies and burnouts?

Many riders like the rebel image of motorcyclists, but bemoan the lack of respect on the road. Unfortunately we can't have it both ways. Regardless of the lettering on the side of our motorcycle, what we do on the road reflects on everyone who rides. We need to keep enhancing the image of motorcyclists even if it's one driver at a time. The best way for us to do that is to remember we're all rolling billboards and our actions affect the general perception of us all.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!