As a newbie motorcyclist, my observations have heightened as to how irresponsible and dangerous car and van drivers can be. Now I am not the perfect driver, not by a long stretch but a couple of near misses on my bike have opened my eyes. The first was a car heading straight for me driving across a mini roundabout as I indicated left to turn left, the second only two days ago when a car pulled out of a junction without even bothering to look! Yep on 2 wheels for less than a month and already had 2 near collisions. Oh I have fallen off once, but that was after I hit a pothole – another rant for another day.
Protection From Accidents
In a car you are protected by a metal box, airbags, crash protection, crumple zones, skid protection and other such stuff to prevent you from getting injured in an accident. A motorcycle does not with the rider’s only protection being any protective gear they wear. If you hit the road, IT HURTS and can KILL.
Vital Equipment You Should Use
Any motor vehicle has two pieces of essential equipment that it is obvious many drivers do not know how they work:
MIRRORS: Yep those shiny things that you can see your face in attached to the left and right of your vehicle (and in the centre of your windscreen). They serve a purpose to check what vehicles are around before making a manoevure. Remember being told MIRROR SIGNAL MANOEVURE when you took your driving lessons – although given the driving standards of some people I suspect they may have never taken a driving test.
INDICATORS: That stick mounted on the side of your steering wheel is not there to hang your bag on or an air freshner or to look good. It makes those orange things on the outside of your car flash that tell other road users what you intend to do. Again MIRROR, SIGNAL, MANOEVURE and learn how to use your indicators – they might save a life or two
A special shout out here to BMW, Audi and 4×4 drivers who seem to have the greatest difficulty. FECKING USE THEM.
Another bone of contention, especially mini roundabouts. It is amazing how many people do not how to use a roundabout, by driving over the top, not indicating, not giving way to oncoming traffic from the right. Or often I witness a car at each entry sat waiting looking at each other waiting to make the first move, then they all go at once – at the bottom of my street is a mini-roundabout so I witness it daily.
USEFUL FACT: Ever wondered why motorcyclists never go over roundabouts – the white paint they use is as deadly as ice on two wheels!
Mobile Phones, Sat Navs and other distracting electronic equipment – OK, yes I use a Sat Nav in my car, yes I use a mobile phone in my car BUT when in my vehicle it is securely mounted in eye view onto the windscreen and the audio is fed through my car stereo. Did you know since 2007, it has been illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving, but today many people use phones whilst driving, be it just making calls but even so far as writing text messages WHILST DRIVING. (thankyou to the RAC for the above images – saves me taking photos of actual members of public!)
EDIT: Some people will know how rude I can be on a mobile phone when driving, if I sense I am distracted, I quickly hang up to concentrate on the task in hand! You can still be prosecuted for careless driving whilst on a handsfree phone. A few years ago I nearly found myself in the middle of a roundabout (yes one of the big grassy ones) when a company I worked for would not take no for an answer, even though I was using a handsfree kit.
The RAC has a useful article on the law and what you can and can’t do: https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/legal/mobile-phone-laws/
Road safety campaigners want to go further as it is claimed that you actually are safer driving a car whilst under the influence of alcohol than texting on your mobile phone – a glance at your phone means taking your eyes off the road for at least one second – at 30mph you have travelled approximately 15 metres. Add the stopping distance of 23m and thats a total of nearly 40 metres before stopping in an emergency AFTER you have finished that text message. That brings me on to the next topic..
Alcohol and Drugs
Drinking and driving, and now driving whilst under the influence of drugs is still a major issue. Did you know that even one alcoholic drink or even some strong flu medications can impair your driving to the point that you are not in full control of a deadly weapon capable of KILLING people. I would love to see either a zero tolerance drink/drug drive limit – like in Australia or a breathalyser type device in every motor vehicle. If you have a drink, get a taxi home or other form of public transport, or like I did a while back….walk home in the cold and pitch black (thanks to the council turning the street lights off at night!) and at some point I fell over as I bruised my arm – that healed! Had I taken the car, then I could have killed a whole family.
In a car you stand a chance of surviving your stupidity. If you hit a motorcyclist or pedestrian, you will probably severely injure or even KILL THEM.
Slow Reactions and Elderly Drivers
Now I am going to get into grief here, but it is a fact that as you age, your reactions slow down and the chances are that when you took your test there weren’t that many fast moving cars on the road. Many elderly drivers – in my opinion should not be behind the wheel of a car or even on the road on a mobility scooter. The current “self certification after the age of 70” is totally wrong. Your ability to drive should be tested and any medical evidence be considered before granting an extension to your license after the age of 60. Better still, every ten years EVERYONE has to be declared fit to drive. I did know someone who was partially sighted and still behind the wheel of the car, asking his passenger (a family relative!!!) to let him know when there was traffic or if it was safe to pull out of junctions. Fortunately he had his license taken from him and his car sold before he had chance to kill someone, but he knew what box to tick to give him another 5 years on his driving license.
Driving Too Slowly
Yep, you read it right. I encounter people on major A roads with a 60 mph limit driving at stupid speeds – I think the slowest on the A16 was 23mph a while back, causing a tailback and some idiot to think he could overtake a queue of traffic on a bend. Fortunately the rest of the traffic was travelling slowly enough to allow him to get back on the right side of the road before being hit by an oncoming car – it was close and I’m sure the oncoming driver had a brown skid mark in their pants as their life flashed in front of them.
That will do today but remember when you are out driving, keep focussed, use your mirrors and indicators, don’t drink and drive and drive according to the conditions. I love riding my scooter, please let me live to an old age – if I kill myself due to my stupidity then thats my fault.