Spring brings more motorcycles, bicyclists

By Allan Woods
Installation Motorcycle Program Safety Manager
March 15, 2012

Wow, springtime is nearly here. This means pedestrians, joggers, bicycles, scooters and motorcycles are out in the streets in large numbers. Recently, I even saw a unicycle cruising down Main Street at 4 p.m. when the traffic volume is very high. He was wearing a dark jacket and hat and he was slightly out of control, but he was managing to keep his face off of the pavement and stay out of the middle of my lane, at least most of the time. I'll bet he kept the rubber down for a half a mile before he went down. He was lucky I was watching out for him because he went down right in the middle of my lane. Had I not been paying attention, it could have been his last ride and the last time I drove a vehicle. It would be very difficult for me to get behind the wheel of a vehicle after an experience like that, even if I had not been at fault.

Now is the time to jumpstart the habit of taking that extra moment or two to look specifically for the smaller objects moving through our field of vision while we are driving. It is very easy to overlook a pedestrian, bicycle or even a motorcycle when pulling out of a driveway, turning a corner or changing lanes if we are not looking specifically for them.

For instance, when driving it is all too easy to relax and let our focus get fixed on something other than the job at hand. This situation is called induced blindness. This information was obtained from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation website. I would like to share more of its information with you.

Back in the 1950s aviators learned about this situation when learning to fly. They were taught to keep their eyes moving and their heads on a swivel to avoid induced blindness even for a moment. To demonstrate this concept, visit the following website and try this short exercise: http://www.msf-usa.org/motion.html. In just a few short seconds, it will show you how easily a small object can momentarily disappear from your view, even though it is right in front of you.

When we're out driving, take notice of those smaller objects moving around in front of us. Occasionally they may disappear from our view, just for an instant. Those small objects are actually human beings, alive and breathing with their day moving right along with ours. We are all simply trying to get from one place to another in a peaceful manner. In order to make this process happen safely, we need to realize we are sharing the road with many others of all shapes and sizes and we all have equal importance out there.

With the many changes on base, we need to be extra careful when we get caught up in traffic congestion. There are a lot of pedestrians crossing these busy streets and there are often daily near misses. Be careful out there!

When we are out of our vehicles and we become the smaller traffic or objects, we need to be extra cautious and wear clothing that will be more easily seen and pay close attention to our surroundings whether we are walking, jogging, riding a bicycle, scooter or a motorcycle. Most of all pay attention and make eye contact with the vehicle drivers around you before you step into the street.

We all must do our part in sharing the road. We're all on the same team. If we all arrive at our destination safely, we all win.

Let's all share the road and stay alive!

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