The life of a stranger
Years ago my dad told me that most people who hit a motorcycle later tell the police; “I never even saw him”.
This poster is on the side of a garage along US highway 51 in Normal, Illinois. It’s been there for years, and is pretty self-explanatory, I think. But I also think that when many people see a motorcycle, they are inclined to forget that it carries a human life, a person, with loved ones who would miss them if they were gone. Instead, they may see the motorcycle as just an annoyance. The bike is smaller than their cars, so it isn’t important. They’ll crowd the bike, they’ll tailgate, they’ll just fail to see them at all.
In my lifetime, I’ve seen attitudes towards drunk driving change. It was always deadly, but there was once a time when, inexplicably, it was considered funny. People would say; “Man, I don’t remember driving home last night at all!” and their friends would laugh.
Not anymore; if you tell your friend that you drove home drunk last night, you’re likely to get a richly deserved rebuke, and they won’t go anywhere with you. They may take your keys, or even report you to the cops. And they’d be doing you, and some stranger, a favor.
Some of this change came about from earnest Public Service Announcements on television, but much of it happened because of MADD and because of individuals who just decided it was worth getting up in their friends’ faces about.
I’m suggesting now that distracted driving is in the same category. People just don’t multitask behind the wheel as well as they think they do, and we should get up in their faces about it. If you’re talking to a friend and you realize they are driving a car, say; “Are you driving? Good bye” and hang up. And if you know someone who texts and drives, refuse to text them at any time until they stop doing it.
Clearly it isn’t just for motorcycles either: it could save a pedestrian, another driver, a bicyclist. Or of course, you. But it also saves the people who love you, or who love those strangers, from the suffering that follows the phone call no one should ever have to receive.
(This is for Justice Day, who heard the knock on the door that no one should ever have to hear, on July 04 this year. I don’t know if cell phones or texting or tuning the radio was the reason, but clearly someone just wasn’t seeing motorcycles that day. I couldn’t read what she wrote and not weep, or not write this post afterward. Visit her blog and offer a kind word. Or at least remember her when you drive.)