Forget about Motorcycle Safety?!? In order to understand why I say that, and to fully appreciate the rest of this article, I suggest you first acquaint yourself with the following:
Mining Political Gold from Motorcycle Awareness Month
Motorcycle Awareness Efforts Must be Year-Round
by Madd Ray Henke
As I observed last month, “Motorcycle Safety” is a term best defined in context: Some see it as a cause, some sell it as a commodity, and many view it as an oxymoron. I include it as one of the four major arenas of my MRO Strategic Framework, but I also emphasize that the target of motorcycle safety initiatives should be motorcyclists, and not government or the public.
Motorcycle Safety is an Individual Responsibility
Motorcycle Safety is (or should be) about rider training and responsible riding. It is first and foremost an individual responsibility:
If you take a three-day motorcycle “crash” course, then go buy a 180-mph crotch rocket and ram your ass into a telephone poll on your first curve, whose fault is that?
If an uncontrolled skid rips off your surfer shorts, Oaxacan sandals and all the skin on your mangled arms and legs because you don’t ride the custom chopper you had trailered to Daytona enough to know how to slow down on a rain-slick road, whose fault is that?
If your drunken, helmetless head gets mushed into bloody oatmeal by the concrete wall you slammed into while speeding down a dark road after half a dozen body shots at your favorite strip joint, whose fault is that?
Your fault! That’s whose fault it is. Not NHTSA’s, the DMV’s or your MRO’s.
Motorcycle Safety is a Commodity
Many MROs that speak about Motorcycle Safety as a cause actually sell it as a commodity. I am okay with that so long as everything is above board, and the proceeds of the selling efforts are applied in the Motorcyclists’ Rights and Motorcycle Awareness arenas. I am not okay with that if the true underlying mission of the organization is simply to sell training and t-shirts, and rights and awareness issues receive nothing more than lip service.
Motorcycle Safety is a Travesty
50% of all motorcycle accidents are the result of inattentional blindness on the part of cagers. This is a Motorcycle Awareness issue, not a Motorcycle Safety issue. All the helmet laws, rider training and responsible riding in the world will not mitigate IB … yet we continue to allow the government to perpetuate a travesty, telling us the victim is responsible for the crime … as if there should be no penalty for shooting someone if they aren’t wearing a Kevlar vest!
Forget About Motorcycle Safety
We need to tell the state and federal government to forget about Motorcycle Safety. Motorcycle Safety is an individual responsibility, our responsibility, and we don’t need NHTSA or the DMV to tell us how to deal with it. The sooner we get this point across, the sooner the helmet law issue will cease to be an issue, and the sooner we can shift our political mode from defense to offense.
We must demand that May no longer be referred to as “Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month”. From now on, as Splatt and Madd Ray suggested, May should be referred to as “Motorcycle Awareness Month”, and all of the Mayors’ and Governors’ proclamations should be rewritten to focus not on putting riders in clown suits, but on getting the attention of the careless cagers who are killing us.
Politically, it is time we focus on Motorcycle Awareness … and forget about Motorcycle Safety.
Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!