You Have to be a Biker to Understand

GaijinBiker, who blogs on Riding Sun, wrote an interesting commentary about why cagers tend to drive more recklessly: OK, here's what I...

GaijinBiker, who blogs on Riding Sun, wrote an interesting commentary about why cagers tend to drive more recklessly:
OK, here's what I'm talking about. People take steps to avoid risks when they cannot afford to bear the consequences of an undesirable outcome. You might buy a lottery ticket for a dollar, because if you lose, hey, it's just a dollar. But if that same ticket cost $1,000, you might not be so eager to play, even if the prize were worth millions. The cost of being wrong rose above your comfort level.

A biker's comfort level for getting into an accident is very, very low. Zero, in fact. As a result, we tend to be very, very careful, especially when riding close to other motorists, who can make sudden, unpredictable moves.

The driver of a car has a much higher comfort level for smash-ups. No one really wants to wreck his car, unless he's entered it in a demolition derby. But in all but the gravest of accidents, today's automotive safety technology assures drivers that they'll be able to walk, or even drive, away from the scene with nothing more than a higher insurance premium.

Because car drivers are insulated from the consequences of their driving behavior, they take more risks. They speed, run stop signs, put on makeup, light cigarettes, eat food, and turn without signalling. Some even install dashboard-mounted DVD players with miniature widescreens, lest they get bored while waiting at one of the red lights they decide to actually stop at.

In an earlier post, I mentioned that as the number of bikes increased on London's M1 motorway, the number of accidents fell. That's because the bikers had a lower tolerance for error, and acted accordingly.
I've always told my car-driving friends that riding a motorcycle actually makes you a better "driver", simply because bikers tend to be more aware of their surroundings, and hence make fewer mistakes.

And if you've been unfortunate enough like me to have taken spill on your bike while traveling at a fast speed, you'll become an even better driver and rider. When you can feel the Grim Reaper nearby, you don't make very many mistakes.

But maybe there is some truth to that in driving cars too. My first car accident came when I was driving a little Honda Civic. Another driver, driving a 60s era Chevy Camaro, drove down the wrong side of the street, and we smacked head on. My Honda looked like a smashed aluminum can. My little brother, whom I had picked up from school, had his scalp ripped open, from the front to the back.

Since then, it seems that whenever I buy a new car, I buy one that's bigger and stronger. After the Honda I got a Chevy S-10 Pickup, and after that I got a GMC 4x4 full size pickup. I don't know if I did that consciously for protection reasons; maybe a little voice inside me kept reminding me of that accident. I always liked pickup trucks anyways.

For me anyways, trial and error has always been the best form of education. For those folks who drive and never ride, perhaps will never fully appreciate good driving skills.


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