Stupidity is deadly

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I should probably be saving my top 10 for the year’s end, but I think it’s far more appropriate to talk about scary at this time of year. Here, in reverse order of asininity, are my two top-10 lists.

Scary list of things I’ve seen from vehicle drivers that endanger the lives of motorcyclists:

10. Putting the car in Drive when wanting to back out of a parking spot. That’s what fenders are for, I guess.

9. Assuming the world revolved around them. Papa (bless his soul) signalled lane-changes by virtue of doing. No shoulder check; no signal light. He figured it was up to the other drivers to honk if he cut them off. With his senior’s hat on, he was safe. It was a happy day when he got his licence revoked.

8. Throwing burning cigarettes out of a car window. Not only will smoking kill you (and yes, that is your birthright), it can severely damage me too. Ever had a live one bounce off your helmet? Or threaten to slip into your jacket? The U.K. has actually banned smoking while driving. I’m in!

7. Tailgating an unsteady rider (especially of the two-wheeled scooter variety). That’s akin to chasing half a foot behind a deer and hoping to never hit it. I prefer to keep my distance. Panic only adds to the fawn’s stress, resulting in more havoc, not less.

6. Reading a road map (or tourist magazine or newspaper) while driving on a fast-moving, three-lane inner-city street.

5. Driving with unsecured fixins in the back of a pickup. In my case, I was following a pickup with a freshly slaughtered deer. Those flying chunks of bloody meat posed a potentially slippery problem.

4. Driving the wrong way on a one-way street. OK, so it was actually a family member. All I remember is sitting (slouching down) in the back seat, listening to kids on bikes chanting at us “one way, one way” while pointing the direction opposite to the one we were going in.

3. Taking a curve, racer style, by crossing over the centre line and driving right into on-coming traffic. Take notes here folks. It’s in all likelihood a sedan, not a racing car, and the speed signs typically call for you to slow down, not speed up. Consider the double solid yellow line a 10-foot-tall brick wall.

2. Applying makeup (women) or pinching out a few stray nose-hairs (men). Your rearview mirror is intended for only one thing. And it has nothing to do with grooming.

1. Texting, eating, drinking a hot coffee, grabbing that book that has fallen off the passenger seat or doing any other thing that pulls your attention away from the road for a second or longer. It’s gotta suck living out the rest of your life thinking “If only I could do those two seconds over again …”

And as much as we bikers like to feel righteous, and full of indignation and contempt for car drivers, we too are not without our contributions to the world of scary. Consider these: My scary list of things I’ve seen from motorcyclists:

10. Smoking while riding. While wearing a full faced helmet. Talented, yes. Smart? not so much.

9. Popping wheelies while in rush hour traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway. OK, so it’s fun, it’s cool, and it comes with a live (and panicked) audience. But man, it’s freakin’ stupid.

8. Using both feet as brakes. Sure, your back brake is only 30 per cent of the bike’s braking power but come on! It’s still more effective than braking Freddy Flintstone style.

7. Riding with a tired passenger. I watched one woman nodding off on the back seat and was horrified when her head lolled. Luckily, the motion jolted her awake.

6. Riding with a dog sitting on a backseat platform, on a leash. That’s one dog owner who isn’t anticipating a good 14-year run with Spot.

5. Kicking a moving car. Think about it. Mere mortal man made of flesh meets two tonnes of moving metal. Metal always wins.

4. Throwing a fist full of change at a moving car that almost cut the biker off. A waste of good money, I say.

3. Kicking the dog that was chasing the bike. That’s just inane. A chihuahua does not make for a nice ankle ornament. Nor does a pit bull look good on the thigh.

2. Driving with groceries hanging from each handle grip. Here’s a suggestion: There are a few grocery stores that deliver. For an extra few dollars, you can get them delivered to your door AND still look cool on your ride home.

1. Riding in the snow. Speechless.

Really, if you stopped and thought long and hard about it, it’s amazing how many stupid scary acts we actually manage to get away with in life. It’s what you do next that really matters. You could think, “Wow, I just got away with it this time which means I can do it again,” or, you could think, “I got lucky this time, and I’ll never do it again.”

Regret is a miserable place to eke out an existence.

– Britt Santowski

Britt Santowski is a former chief instructor with the Vancouver Island Safety Council, where she trained instructors and taught riders for almost a decade. Santowski is also a keynote speaker, workshop facilitator, speaker, consultant and author.

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One Response to “Stupidity is deadly”

  1. on 11 Feb 2011 at 5:18 pmD.B.

    Response received by email



    Keep up the great articles!! I REALLY enjoyed your latest one with your top 10 lists!



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