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The Blindfold Effect

At many rallies they play a field game called the Blind Sidecar Race. In this event, the rider is blindfolded and the passenger in the sidecar directs the rider through a winding obstacle course of cones. With the stability of the sidecar making a tip over unlikely while operating at low speeds on a closed course, this event is relatively safe and fun to watch. It is a real challenge for the riders as they try to navigate their way through the meandering route while relying on their passenger to communicate directions.

"Can you picture trying to keep your bike going straight down the road while blindfolded?"

If this sounds like fun, how about doing this on the road? How many of you would straddle your two-wheeled stead, put a blindfold over your eyes and head into traffic? Can you picture trying to keep the bike going straight down the road and in your own lane while blindfolded? Can you imagine putting through an intersection without being able to see the traffic signals or what other vehicles are doing? How about flying into a curve with your eyes covered, especially without having seen the curve coming up.

I hear you screaming, “Do you think I’m nuts??” Of course not. Why would anyone ride their motorcycle in traffic without the ability to see? It would be suicide!! Yet, all too often, that is exactly what we do when we ride. We don’t do it all the time, but we do it often enough to be frightening. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it. It doesn’t matter how often we do it or whether we know we’re doing it or not, it’s still a dangerous practice. Riding with a blindfold can obviously result in calamitous consequences.

How many times have you let your mind wander while you’re riding? How often have you been distracted while digging for that tape in your fairing? How often have you caught yourself intently watching some activity (i.e. squad car, swimming party) as you putt down the road? How many times have you dodged around a van or truck at an intersection allowing it to block your view and blocking you from the view of others? At all of these times you might as well have been blindfolded. Oh, sure, you might catch something out of the corner of your eye, but by then it may be too late.

Think of all the things you’ve seen other people do while they are sharing (?) the road with us. You’ve seen them eating, talking on the phone, reading a map, book or newspaper, putting on makeup and/or sleeping. They’ve been checking their email, tending to their kids, talking to their passenger or texting on their cell phone. While they’re doing these things, they are all driving blindfolded so we can’t afford to let our guard down for even an instant.

There can be no timeouts or mental lapses when we’re on our bikes. We’ve got to keep our eyes open to clearly see what’s going on around us. Too many others on our roads are not paying attention to what they’re doing. We can’t afford to wear a blindfold, too.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!