Motorcycle Accidents

 

Last summer I was browsing through our towns’ police department Facebook pages because sometimes I like to see a little of what is going on in that circle.  It’s very limited, but sometimes they have useful traffic or fire updates, and it’s interesting to see what crimes might be mentioned. One incident that stood out to me was the death of a motorcyclist on one of the main roads. The driver of a pickup had changed lanes into him and knocked him into a box truck. The details were sparse, as you would expect from a simple Facebook post, but the motorcyclist died, and it was hinted as likely the fault of the pickup driver.

Yesterday, I volunteered to be in the church nursery as I had been sick on my normal day and it just so happened that my husband’s aunt had also volunteered and were placed in the same room. I haven’t seen her for a while because she just retired and has been off to places like Kenya, the Philippines, and Missouri. She is one of those involved, social ladies that knows everyone and is generally up to speed on the happenings of our cities. I don’t know how people do that.*

As we chatted she mentioned that a couple from the church had been out riding their motorcycle last Friday and had been hit. Both were alive but were badly hurt. This brought to my mind the accident from the summer so I mentioned that I was glad they survived as the guy from the summer had not. I don’t memorize my exact conversations, but I said something like “I guess the pickup driver just wasn’t paying attention.”

I might have known she knew that pickup driver. It turns out that she had known him for years. He was friends with her daughter and her secretary’s daughter. She knew his mother and relatives. And she knew their side of the aftermath of that accident. Six weeks after the accident, the pickup driver had gone up to one of the highest bridges up north of here and committed suicide by jumping off. There may have been more reasons behind this move than the accident but that was perhaps the tipping point.

But this made me realize that I was thinking of this guy as just a negligent driver. He hadn’t been paying enough attention, shouldn’t have been driving, maybe he was just a jerk or didn’t like motorcyclists (If you spend enough time on Reddit you will hate motorcyclists too). There was yet another incident a few months ago where it was a hit-and-run on a motorcyclist and it’s really hard to look kindly on someone who does that.

But he was a real person, probably in his early thirties, given the age or my aunt’s daughter, I didn’t ask. And his mother is a real person, and suffering real pain, no less real or legitimate than the pain of the family of the motorcyclist. This was a tragedy all around.

I don’t think there is anything profound in this so much as it is simply a reminder to myself that I rarely get enough information from news sources to make good judgments about people. It wasn’t that the Facebook post was wrong or misleading, it was just necessarily limited. People, and life, are much more complicated. I think I’ve been too engrossed in the news of truly evil people who seem to be unredeemable, and I need to remember that even those monsters are people too. It doesn’t excuse the death, nor absolve him of guilt, but he was human with real human needs, desires, and feelings. More information may not change the facts, but it can change the perspective.

I need to consider that.

* I really do not understand how extroverted social people work. She says I have a great memory but she knows everyone in our 1,000 member church as well as so many people throughout the community and she can converse very personally with anyone about anything except maybe physics. I don’t want to give the impression that she’s a gossip. It’s because she legitimately cares about people personally. Sure, she can’t remember their birthday, but she knows them.

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  1. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    It is as strength she has that helps her remember everyone. I’d say it is part of WOO.

    • #1
  2. PHCheese Inactive
    PHCheese
    @PHCheese

    Having survived riding a Honda 90 motorcycle for several years while in college I would now suggest that a  requirement for obtaining a  motorcycle license be mandatory  registration as an organ donor.

    • #2
  3. Hank Rhody, Red Hunter Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Red Hunter
    @HankRhody

    Qoumidan: But he was a real person,

    Something we’re all inclined to forget entirely too often.

    • #3
  4. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Words to live by, Qoumidan. There are plenty of motorcyclists who weave in and out of traffic too. And who knows if maybe the way he was portrayed in the media may have contributed to the truck driver’s pain.

    • #4
  5. Locke On Inactive
    Locke On
    @LockeOn

    A former co-worker’s wife worked in a Bay Area ER.  Her teams’ private name for them was ‘donorcycles’.

    • #5
  6. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    A poignant post, thanks.  This sentence made me laugh, though:

    Qoumidan: I haven’t seen her for a while because she just retired and has been off to places like Kenya, the Philippines, and Missouri.

    There’s an order of precedence there somewhere.  But I’m not quite sure what it is, or how it works.

    • #6
  7. Qoumidan Coolidge
    Qoumidan
    @Qoumidan

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    Having survived riding a Honda 90 motorcycle for several years while in college I would now suggest that a requirement for obtaining a motorcycle license be mandatory registration as an organ donor.

    It also came up that my husband has given me permission to get a motorcycle when our youngest child has reached 5.  I’ve unintentionally reset that back to 5 years out again and she said ”God is protecting you.”

    • #7
  8. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    She (View Comment):

    A poignant post, thanks. This sentence made me laugh, though:

    Qoumidan: I haven’t seen her for a while because she just retired and has been off to places like Kenya, the Philippines, and Missouri.

    There’s an order of precedence there somewhere. But I’m not quite sure what it is, or how it works.

    I had the same reaction!

    • #8
  9. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Locke On (View Comment):

    A former co-worker’s wife worked in a Bay Area ER. Her teams’ private name for them was ‘donorcycles’.

    Yeah. it’s universal in ER’s.  The problem is you can be the best motorcycle rider in the world, but it won’t help you when you get hit.  Simple physics.

    • #9
  10. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    Locke On (View Comment):

    A former co-worker’s wife worked in a Bay Area ER. Her teams’ private name for them was ‘donorcycles’.

    I have a friend who rode a motorcycle for many years. He said the cops told him they appreciate it when motorcyclists obey the helmet laws. It makes clean up a little easier… Eww.

    • #10
  11. Fritz Coolidge
    Fritz
    @Fritz

    When I rode in my ’20s, I was young and invincible.

    When I took it up again in my ’50s, I realized that, to all those car and truck drivers, I was not invincible.

    I was invisible.

    Sold the beast.

    • #11
  12. RightAngles Member
    RightAngles
    @RightAngles

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    A former co-worker’s wife worked in a Bay Area ER. Her teams’ private name for them was ‘donorcycles’.

    I have a friend who rode a motorcycle for many years. He said the cops told him they appreciate it when motorcyclists obey the helmet laws. It makes clean up a little easier… Eww.

    I once saw a gory photo of a dead motorcyclist, a closeup of his head which was cracked like an egg, inside his intact helmet. I’ll never go on one.

    • #12
  13. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western Chauvinist
    @WesternChauvinist

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    A former co-worker’s wife worked in a Bay Area ER. Her teams’ private name for them was ‘donorcycles’.

    I have a friend who rode a motorcycle for many years. He said the cops told him they appreciate it when motorcyclists obey the helmet laws. It makes clean up a little easier… Eww.

    I once saw a gory photo of a dead motorcyclist, a closeup of his head which was cracked like an egg, inside his intact helmet. I’ll never go on one.

    Like I said. Eww.

    • #13
  14. JoelB Member
    JoelB
    @JoelB

    Kenya, Philippines, Missouri – Assemblies of God World Missions, am I right?

    • #14
  15. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    The fatality rate for motorcyclists is 26 times greater than for cars. And half the fatalities don’t even involve other vehicles.

    Don’t do it.

    • #15
  16. Qoumidan Coolidge
    Qoumidan
    @Qoumidan

    JoelB (View Comment):

    Kenya, Philippines, Missouri – Assemblies of God World Missions, am I right?

    Hehe, no, for us it’s Montana, not Missouri.  The Missouri trip was to see a friend.

    • #16
  17. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Fritz (View Comment):

    When I rode in my ’20s, I was young and invincible.

    When I took it up again in my ’50s, I realized that, to all those car and truck drivers, I was not invincible.

    I was invisible.

    Sold the beast.

    Yeah. The trend of aging Boomers buying motorcycles is not good.  Less crazy but much slower reflexes, poor vision and hearing, and they don’t heal like they did in their 20’s either….

    • #17
  18. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    Western Chauvinist (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    A former co-worker’s wife worked in a Bay Area ER. Her teams’ private name for them was ‘donorcycles’.

    I have a friend who rode a motorcycle for many years. He said the cops told him they appreciate it when motorcyclists obey the helmet laws. It makes clean up a little easier… Eww.

    I once saw a gory photo of a dead motorcyclist, a closeup of his head which was cracked like an egg, inside his intact helmet. I’ll never go on one.

    When I was 13 was driving from Cali with my sister’s family across country.  We were in Barstow getting gas, beautiful sunny day, when I saw a guy on a cycle loose control, skid right past us in the gas station, take out the retaining wall with his head and go cartwheeling into the desert.  We ran up to him, and guess what he said?  Any motorcycle rider will know.

     

     

    How’s my bike man?

    That may have been the last thing he said, he lost consciousness at that point. I never had any desire to ride a motorcycle after that.

    • #18
  19. EDISONPARKS Member
    EDISONPARKS
    @user_54742

    A few years ago I attended my sons high school playoff football game near Madison,WI in mid November.  To make a long story short my son broke his leg and he was taken to the closest hospital, University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison(one of two Level 1 trauma centers in the state).

    It was a unusually beautiful day for Wisconsin in mid November, sunny and 70 degrees, so every motorcycle rider in Wisconsin was trying to get in what was probably be their last ride of the season(ie: can’t ride in he snow and ice and the freezing cold is only for diehards).

    So to get to the point, my son arrived at the hospital around mid afternoon with a broken Fibula which only needed to be reset and cast, and we did not leave the hospital until after midnight because …..  serious life threatening  motorcycle accidents from around the state of Wisconsin were being helicoptered to this Level 1 trauma center to try to save these poor motorcycle riding bastards lives, and correctly, less serious injuries(ie: boken Fibulas) had to wait to be attended to.

    I never had the motorcycle riding jones, and experiencing the shock/fear adrenal rush of seeing seriously injured motorcycle accident victims only confirmed my life long decision not to ride.

    • #19
  20. Gary Robbins Reagan
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    Arizona does not have a motorcycle helmet law.  I suggest that when people get an Arizona motorcycle driver’s license, they sign a consent that says that if they die of a head injury, and they were not wearing a helmet, then they have consented to their organs being donated.

    • #20
  21. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Locke On (View Comment):

    A former co-worker’s wife worked in a Bay Area ER. Her teams’ private name for them was ‘donorcycles’.

    Yeah. it’s universal in ER’s. The problem is you can be the best motorcycle rider in the world, but it won’t help you when you get hit. Simple physics.

    My dad was a doc like you, Kozak.  The rule that he derived was: “Give your child a motorcycle for his last birthday.”

    • #21
  22. Arizona Patriot Member
    Arizona Patriot
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Let’s face it head on.  Should we ban motorcycles?

    These minor organ donation rules don’t cut it.  The OP talks about a guy who committed suicide because he was at fault in an accident that killed a motorcyclist.  But it seems likely that the motorcyclist would not have been killed, and perhaps would not even have been injured, if he had been driving a car.

    An alternative to an outright ban would be an “assumption of the risk” rule, in which motorcyclists were prohibited from recovering for personal injuries sustained in an accident.  This would probably not have helped the negligent driver in the OP, because it seems much more likely that his problem was guilt, not the financial consequences of a possible wrongful death case (though I don’t know this for sure).

    I fully understand the liberty interest involved in claiming the right to ride a motorcycle.  But this also imposes both a financial and emotional toll on others, as it amplifies the consequence of negligent driving from minor property damage to major injury or fatality.

    • #22
  23. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    I’ve ridden scooters and motorcycles for over fifty years and have never been hurt.  For most of that time I didn’t wear a helmet.  I currently ride a Vespa.  I guess I’ve been lucky.  

    Mr. Patriot, surely you jest. 

    • #23
  24. TGR9898 Inactive
    TGR9898
    @TedRudolph

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):

    Let’s face it head on. Should we ban motorcycles?

    These minor organ donation rules don’t cut it. The OP talks about a guy who committed suicide because he was at fault in an accident that killed a motorcyclist. But it seems likely that the motorcyclist would not have been killed, and perhaps would not even have been injured, if he had been driving a car.

    An alternative to an outright ban would be an “assumption of the risk” rule, in which motorcyclists were prohibited from recovering for personal injuries sustained in an accident. This would probably not have helped the negligent driver in the OP, because it seems much more likely that his problem was guilt, not the financial consequences of a possible wrongful death case (though I don’t know this for sure).

    I fully understand the liberty interest involved in claiming the right to ride a motorcycle. But this also imposes both a financial and emotional toll on others, as it amplifies the consequence of negligent driving from minor property damage to major injury or fatality.

    There’s no quicker way to turn a Conservative into a Totalitarian Progressive than to mention motorcycles & helmet laws. And likewise, there’s no quicker way to send an adult into a screaming toddler tantrum than to mention helmet laws to a Motorcycle owner.

    While both sides can quote all sorts of supporting statistics & anecdotes for their side of the argument (odds of death in an accident vs accidents per miles ridden), the details are far more complicated than “all bikes are deadly”. 18 years olds pulling wheelies on 180 hp Import bikes? Darwinism in motion. The 55 year old accountant living out a Rebel fantasy on a slow-moving Harley? Unlikely to scuff their $500 designer pre-weathered Peter Fonda Signature leather chaps.

    At the end of the day – as a supporter of the free market – I would defer to those that have the most to lose financially in an accident. Not the rider or their family, but Insurance companies. Bike Insurance is not outrageously expensive. Life Insurance premiums do not rise_significantly_ for riders (that are honest). It’s not nearly as dangerous outsiders like to think – ON AVERAGE. When it goes wrong, though, the SINGLE instances are pretty catastrophic.

    As someone who doesn’t ride a bike, I don’t have a direct interest in this…. but as someone who constantly hears uninformed opinions about “dangerous activities”, I will not support more nanny state. It already wants to ban my own hobbies based on myths & ignorance.

    I have always advocated for staggered insurance rates for helmet vs non-helmet riders (and different color license plates to identify). I also advocate keeping the insurance pools separate from 4 wheeled drivers. But beyond that, where do you draw the line? How much do you want to intrude on other people’s lives? Sometimes it’s best to let the gene pool self-chloronate.

    • #24
  25. Hank Rhody, Red Hunter Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Red Hunter
    @HankRhody

    TGR9898 (View Comment):
    There’s no quicker way to turn a Conservative into a Totalitarian Progressive than to mention motorcycles & helmet laws.

    Sure there is. Drive slower than him in the left lane.

    • #25
  26. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Kozak (View Comment):

    Fritz (View Comment):

    When I rode in my ’20s, I was young and invincible.

    When I took it up again in my ’50s, I realized that, to all those car and truck drivers, I was not invincible.

    I was invisible.

    Sold the beast.

    Yeah. The trend of aging Boomers buying motorcycles is not good. Less crazy but much slower reflexes, poor vision and hearing, and they don’t heal like they did in their 20’s either….

    According to the news in the WSJ about Harley Davidson, that demographic group less and less able to sustain the business.

    • #26
  27. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    It is fascinating how often “the rest of the story” affects our reaction to the initial story.

    I therefore try to control my outrage reaction to sensational news because I suspect there might be more to the story.

     

    • #27
  28. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    I also do not understand how extroverted social people like your husband’s aunt work, but I know there are such people, and they are very valuable in connecting communities. They can be enormously helpful in bringing together people who can help each other or otherwise need each other.

    • #28
  29. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    EDISONPARKS (View Comment):
    It was a unusually beautiful day for Wisconsin in mid November, sunny and 70 degrees, so every motorcycle rider in Wisconsin was trying to get in what was probably be their last ride of the season(ie: can’t ride in he snow and ice and the freezing cold is only for diehards).

    But there is some nice country for riding in places west and southwest of Madison. I’ve enjoyed the company of motorcyclers while riding my bicycle there on a hot, sunny Sunday afternoon. Even caught up with some of them in a biker bar, once, where we compared notes. I only drank lemonade, though.

    Most of these bikers are doctors, lawyers, and investment bankers these days. You can tell by the expensive haircuts, and the women do not look very road-hardened.  But one time a slightly rougher-looking guy on a motorbike came alongside me on my way south of Climax, MI, and said, “That’s a lovely pannier arrangement you have.”  (I had just gotten a new set of red Ortlieb panniers, front and back.) As we rode south of town we compared notes on our camping gear and stuff.

    Ah, yes, here it is, with a photo:

    http://www.spokesrider.com/2011/06/20/maiden-voyage-of-new-panniers/

     

    • #29
  30. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Arizona Patriot (View Comment):
    Let’s face it head on. Should we ban motorcycles?

    No.  I’ve never had one, but no, we shouldn’t go around banning things for people’s own good.

    • #30

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