Each year around March or April, Motorcyclists take to the byways of Massachusetts in large numbers. It’s for this reason that your Massachusetts Motorcycle Association worked closely with the Massachusetts Legislature so many years ago to institute the Motorcycle Safety Awareness Period during the month of April. This year has been somewhat of an exception in that many businesses are closed, some at which riders store their motorcycles over the winter months if they don’t ride year-round, and let’s face it, despite the early spring, the weather simply hasn’t been the most cooperative. Yet others are self-quarantined at home, and some are merely using the weekends to catch up on shopping, other errands, or work around the yard. Many of these latter activities require 4 wheels with cargo space.
Under normal circumstances, we need to be careful taking our 2 or 3-wheelers out on the roads after a long winter where car drivers are more focused on avoiding potholes, sanders, and plows which appear randomly on the roads without warning. Car drivers aren’t focusing on the smaller vehicles like Motorcycles who have every right to the roads. Compound that with even fewer vehicles on the road than in any typical year and people in a hurry to get somewhere and back to the safety of their homes – this target fixation applies to where people simply aren’t focused on the periphery.
And if that isn’t bad enough, Motorcyclists are typically not aware of how rusty their skills have become over the winter – their riding skills certainly, but their awareness skills and abilities to correctly react with urgency.
The excellent weather, the quiet roadways, and the weeks of isolation are a fate-tempting brew that inspire many who have the ability to hop on their saddle and go for a ride. This past weekend is evidence of what impact complacency in our riding can have.
This past weekend alone, we’ve suffered two fatalities in Massachusetts, and as always, one is too many. On Saturday in the small hamlet of Leverett, Massachusetts, a middle-aged rider and his passenger ran into a vehicle turning into her driveway. This type of intersection collision is all too common – the mission-focus of the driver wanting to get home, and the rider unfortunately missing the possible intentions of the driver.
And on the same day, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a rider out with a group lost control of their motorcycle near a corner on an otherwise open stretch of roadway.
Again, while we’d love to think that we can avoid accidents, and especially fatalities altogether, we continue to believe that ONE is too many. Your Massachusetts STRONGLY encourages Rider Education programs, especially those offered by the Massachusetts Rider Education Program through our Massachusetts Motorcycle Association Gold Sponsor Schools. These programs not only teach the awareness techniques that are needed on the roadways, but also the avoidance skills that have been proven to save lives.
But regardless of how skilled you believe yourself to be, we ask that you remember that ANY skill, when not consistently practiced, becomes tarnished or rusty and takes time to get back to a fine honed edge.
PLEASE RIDE WITH CAUTION! During the early season, certainly, but especially during these uncertain times. We also remind everyone to follow not just safe riding practices, but just being outdoors doesn’t by itself constitute safe distancing.
For more information contact SafetyDirector@MassMotorcycle.org or see www.MassMotorcycle.org.