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Trading Places

Have you ever traded places with someone else? Maybe you were at a meeting or party and traded places at the table with another person. You may have swapped roles with someone else in a volunteer organization. At some companies, workers occasionally trade jobs as a means of cross training so both positions have some backup. Some people have even traded houses, perhaps just for a vacation and maybe even permanently.

You can often learn an awful lot about somebody else by trading places with them. You might come out of the swap with a new appreciation for why they do the things that they do. You could gain a fresh perspective into their lives and a new point of view on the challenges these other folks face. It's human nature to look at everything from our own viewpoint, but stepping into another person's shoes can often be very insightful.

For example, take a typical driver on the road today. Have you ever thought about them other than to cuss them out? It's pretty obvious that they are often doing everything except driving their cars as they move from point A to point B. Who are they? Why do they do the things they do on the highway? Why don't they see us and why can't they share the road with us?

This may be hard to believe, but they are usually people just like us. They have families, pressures of work and home, financial concerns and busy schedules. Sound familiar? They have daily struggles, happy moments and frustrations just like we do. If they sound a lot like us, they should because most of us are one of them, too. Most of us have another vehicle that we drive other than our motorcycle.

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.

They may not understand anything about motorcycles however. And in their steel cocoons, they may feel more comfortable in letting their minds wander from their task of driving while we know we can't afford that luxury on our bikes. The big difference is their conditioning. They are conditioned to look for cars and trucks on the road, but they're not necessarily conditioned to search for the smaller vehicles that might be sharing the highway with them.

There could be a couple of reasons for this. One is that in most areas, motorcycles aren't seen on the road all year round. There is often a seasonal hiatus when riders park their bikes and drivers don't expect to see them. Another is that motorcycles represent only 3-4 percent of the traffic mix on the road. With so few motorcycles, comparatively, on the road, many motorists tend to overlook us as they scan their surroundings.

When the vehicles they see on the road ahead look small, they know they are far away. With that much distance between them and the oncoming vehicle, they feel they have plenty of time to make their turn or to pull into the traffic flow. They simply failed to recognize that small vehicle, not as a distant car, but as an approaching motorcycle. Because of our size, most drivers have a difficult time judging our speed and our distance.

Yes, we must continue our efforts with our motorcycle awareness campaigns. But we also need to trade places with motorists and visualize what they see when they look down the road. What can we do to make it easier to identify us as a motorcyclist? What might we look like to that driver looking down the roadway at us? Trading places and thinking like a driver might help us better interact with the traffic around us.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!