I was on my way to work a few days ago approaching an intersection where I had the right-of-way. I was going at, or slightly slower than, the speed limit. Something caught my attention off on my right-hand side and I glanced that direction. As I returned my gaze to the intersection directly ahead, a lady in a mid-sized SUV came barreling through, running the stop sign.
I tapped the brakes as my heart skipped a couple of beats. I actually had plenty of time to stop, but it was a shock to see a vehicle zoom through an intersection I’d thought was clear. Less than two seconds before, the intersection had looked clear. I’d glanced to my right for about two seconds, then returned my gaze ahead to see a large vehicle speeding across my path. The other driver was going way too fast, and apparently didn’t slow down as I approached. Two seconds earlier, when I checked, she was far enough down the road that she didn’t register with me as a potential obstacle.
This is usually the place we start griping about “cagers” not seeing bikers. The problem here is that I was in my 4X4 Tahoe. There are only two or three larger vehicles on the road, not counting RVs. My Tahoe is maroon and should have been easily visible. I still have the image in my mind of the lady in profile as she sped across the road in front of me. Her eyes were locked forward and I’m sure she didn’t see me. I don’t recall any signs of panic on her part as I closed on her. I don’t recall her being on a cell phone, which is the other bogeyman of modern motorists. Her mind was locked on something besides the road, and she apparently didn’t see me, the stop sign, or both.
Motorcycles are smaller and harder to see, and the consequences to the rider are likely to be more severe. But this incident in my Tahoe reminds me that the feeling of persecution so many bikers seem to hold is probably not justified. I have yet to see any objective data that indicates anybody, either other drivers, the police, judges, or lawyers, hold the safety of bikers as any less sacred.
As motorcyclists, we are responsible for our own safety. We accept the added danger of being out in the elements and uncaged along with the pleasure of feeling the wind in our faces. Feeling persecuted is a far less effective safety practice than riding defensively and at reasonable speeds in easy-to-see clothing.
— Guy Wheatley