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The Drive to Be First

I was approaching a four-way stop on my way to work as a guy in a well-worn pickup truck approached the intersection from my left. He was signaling to turn left so he would be going in the same direction as I was. We had to hold for the car waiting on my right to continue straight past the pickup. As I started to ease my clutch out to quickly clear the intersection for my “friend,” I noticed him start to move even before the other car had gone by.

Although I had the right of way, I paused as he shot into his left turn. I followed him through the intersection and he immediately turned on his right turn signal. For the next several anxious seconds, he nervously watched his mirror to ensure I saw his directional (I did) and wouldn’t run into him as he turned into the driveway fifty yards down the road.

What possessed this guy to steal the right of way so he could nervously wonder if I would notice his turning intentions and avoid a collision? Wouldn’t it have been better, I thought, if he had yielded to me as required by law and followed me through his turn? There was no one behind me so he would not have had to worry about getting rear-ended. He could have had a virtually clear and worry-free path for his short journey.

" I’m sure I would have left an unnoticeable dent in his already beat up truck."

Now had I collided with him, I’m sure I would have left an unnoticeable dent in his already beat up truck, but the consequences would have been much more disastrous for me. And as I contemplated this scenario a little more, I wondered how many times we find ourselves in a similar situation as the guy in his pickup. How many times are we seduced in to similar situations by the drive to be first?

How often does our aggressive nature take over and make us do things on the road that once done require us to worry about the potential consequences of our actions? Maybe we tucked in behind an eighteen-wheeler to avoid the wind knowing our view was obstructed and others might not be able to see us. Perhaps we were riding faster than we knew we should in that last rainstorm pushing the limits of our traction and our visibility. Or did we run a yellow (or was it orange?) light hoping beyond hope that no one else was trying to catch the change from red to green without having to slow or stop?

Whether they are our primary means of transportation or not, we choose to ride our motorcycles because we find them to be fun and exciting. We enjoy the feeling of the freedom we get when we’re on our bikes. Why would we intentionally do things that increase our stress level while riding? Why would we want to place ourselves into situations where we increase our risks and then have to worry about the consequences of what we’ve done?

Wouldn’t it be better to save our aggressiveness and our drive to be first for the sports fields and use our riding time to relax? After all, isn’t that why we ride in the first place?

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!