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“Look twice, save a life”

A photo of Charlie's motorcycle.
McKenzie Ward / THE GATEPOST

By McKenzie Ward

Every time my boyfriend Charlie lets me know he’s going on his motorcycle – I always tell him “Be safe and come home in one piece.”

I don’t say this because he’s not a good rider. He’s actually an amazing rider and he’s the only person I have ever trusted enough to give me a ride on his Harley.

I say it because everyone around him is distracted while driving. They’re texting, scrolling through social media, making phone calls – basically doing anything but paying attention to the road.

When will people realize that a text back to a friend while driving, will never be worth the danger they put others around them in?

Each time I get onto the back of Charlie’s bike, my head instantly goes to, “What if someone doesn’t see us? What if someone is texting and they sideswipe us when they move into our lane?”

My mind goes a million different places when I’m on the back of Charlie’s motorcycle. I trust my boyfriend, he always drives safer when I’m on the bike, but I will never feel 100% safe due to reckless and careless drivers around us.

In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) reported that 5,014 riders lost their lives while on motorcycles. These deaths accounted for 14% of traffic fatalities in 2019, according to NHSTA.

In 2019, motorcycle riders were 29 times more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than passenger vehicle occupants. They are also four times more likely to be injured than passenger vehicle occupants, according to NHSTA.

Unlike drivers or passengers in cars and other enclosed vehicles, riders do not have the same

protections surrounding them. And while riders should act responsible by driving safe, other drivers around them have a responsibility to drive safe and always check twice before making any moves while driving.

While it is recommended that motorcyclists wear motorcycle gloves, long-sleeved clothing made from abrasive-resistant materials, and in Massachusetts it is the law to wear a helmet while riding, these do not always protect riders from being killed. Rather they can lessen the physical damage a rider may experience if involved in an accident.

What can save a rider’s life is reminding drivers and riders to look twice.

Over the years “Look twice, save a life” has become a well known slogan used to promote motorcycle safety awareness. What look twice means is checking your blind spots, being extra aware of your surroundings, and using extra caution when driving near a motorcycle.

According to Drive Safely, an online driver education company, most motorcycle accidents happen from motorcyclists being rear-ended by cars. When a car rear ends another car, it is likely just a fender bender.

But, when a car rear ends a motorcycle, it can be fatal.

To avoid rear ending a motorcyclist, it is recommended that cars give motorcycle riders twice as big a gap as you would give a car. While motorcycles are smaller than cars, they can still move just as fast and can stop and turn more quickly than other vehicles. A larger distance will allow a driver of a car to react appropriately to the actions of a motorcycle rider.

Drivers should also always check twice before changing lanes. Motorcycles are not big, and this often makes it easy to miss them when a motorcyclist is in your blind spot. By taking the extra few seconds to check your blind spots before making a lane switch, you can easily save the life of a motorcyclist traveling beside you.

Riding on a motorcycle has been one of the best experiences of my life. Nothing will ever compare to the adrenaline rush I had after the first time I rode on the back of a motorcycle.

But at the same time, the fear that I have of Charlie being injured or killed while riding will always be there, no matter how many times he assures me he’s safe.

So please, when you are driving, look twice because you could save a life.

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