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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Let's Be Careful Out There!"*

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, April 28, 2009
as "No One is Exempt From Rules of the Road"

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey

Riding season is upon us. As the weather warms, motorcycles will once again populate the roadways. The responsibility of survival in traffic rests upon the shoulders of both riders and drivers. For the sake of everyone, please read and heed these prudent reminders:

DRIVERS: Motorcycles are small and easily lost in the background of other traffic. Take that extra moment to look carefully before pulling into traffic, particularly when turning left.

RIDERS: Remember the first rule of inattentional blindness: Even if they look directly at you, they may not actually see you. When approaching a possible situation where a driver could pull out in front of you, plan an escape route, if possible. Watch the driver’s eyes and flash your high-beam if there’s any doubt.

DRIVERS: When merging onto a highway or changing lanes, please make the effort to actually turn and look over your shoulder. Don’t rely on that glance in the rearview mirrors. They are small and leave blind spots around your vehicle.

RIDERS: Like you, drivers are human. They have the same propensity for mistakes as you do. In traffic, leave room for the unexpected and you will lessen the risk.

DRIVERS: Don’t tailgate. A fender-bender between cars is an annoyance. The same impact could maim or kill a rider.

RIDERS: Don’t tailgate. Your headlamp could blind a driver by reflecting that light from their rear-view mirror into their eyes. Also, your proximity could unnerve or distract the driver, making the likelihood of a panic stop more likely.

DRIVERS: When you pass a bike, make sure you’re well clear of its front end before moving back into the lane. And when you do, maintain your speed; don’t slow down.

RIDERS: Cars are not as maneuverable as bikes are. Most drivers’ reflexes aren’t as good as yours. Don’t cut them off. When passing, leave room.

DRIVERS: If you must communicate while driving, at least use a hands-free device. Don’t let the conversation distract you from your primary responsibility, the safe operation of your motor vehicle. And if you absolutely, positively must send a text, PULL OVER!!!

RIDERS: Don’t stunt-ride in traffic. Stay safe and sober. Traffic is dangerous enough without adding the risks of riding stupid.

DRIVERS: Yes, you will on occasion see a rider doing stupid human tricks, showing off, or otherwise riding stupid. Don’t use that rider’s behavior as a reason to broad-brush the rest of us.

RIDERS: These are stressful times. A lot of people are dealing with issues of survival, and some are not handling those pressures all that well. Arrogant riding, such as pulling wheelies, speeding, tailgating, or zigging through traffic could be enough to push someone over the edge, even if only momentarily. And while they may miss you, the poor schmuck riding behind you may pay the price for your stupidity.

DRIVERS AND RIDERS: Don’t de-humanize. No matter how much someone’s appearance or apparent behavior may offend your sensibilities, please remember that on that bike and in that car is someone else’s father or mother, brother or sister, son or daughter. Treat them with the same care and courtesy you would a member of your own family.

After all, we’re sharing the road and just trying to get home.
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