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Robert Barron column: A plea to all drivers; watch out for motorcyclists

All it takes is one lapse in concentration to cause a catastrophe
Robert’s column

I don’t know many people who have been in a motorcycle accident that didn’t get injured in some way.

It doesn’t take much to get hurt while riding a motorcycle; even falling over while stopped at a traffic light can cause cuts and bruises (and a great deal of embarrassment).

Then there’s the fact that motorcyclists, no matter how carefully they handle their machines in traffic, are at an increased risk of being struck or cut off by other drivers as many just don’t register the fact that a bike is near them in the quick shoulder and other checks that people routinely do while driving, which can lead to disastrous results.

Many years ago, an old girlfriend and I were on my bike on a rural road driving within the speed limit and, out of long experience, I was watching carefully all the other vehicles in the vicinity to make sure none of them made contact with us.

But, no matter how hard you try, there always seems to be some bozo who will eventually find a way to get through your defences and do you damage, and this was one of those times.

I saw a driver at a stop sign at a street I was intersecting looking right at us, but I recognized the blank stare and immediately understood he wasn’t seeing us at all.

Sure enough, he proceeded to take a left turn at the stop sign cutting us off.

I didn’t have much time to react and I tried my best to get out of his way and hoped he would finally realize what he was doing and slam on his brakes, which (theoretically) could have left me just enough room to get around the front of the car.

But it was not to be and he just kept on coming completely oblivious to the impending collision.

I had slowed the bike considerably, but I still hit the car’s front quarter panel pretty hard, and my girlfriend was catapulted from the back seat of the bike.

She flew over the top of the car and landed hard on the asphalt about 25 feet down the road.

I flew face first into the car, had the wind knocked out of me and my chin took an awful hit, which resulted in a lot of blood on the ground around me.

Then, unbelievably, not only did the car driver not get out of his car and try to help us, he backed his vehicle up, hit the gas and sped away from the scene of the accident as fast as he could.

I tried to call out to my girlfriend to see if she was okay, but I couldn’t catch my breath and was having trouble moving.

As it turned out, the accident occurred right in front of a small factory and some of the staff were outside eating their lunch and saw the whole thing.

They rushed over to the two of us and helped us as best they could while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Fortunately, both me and my girlfriend were wearing good biking gear at the time, which kept us from being battered and torn as we hit the road.

In the end, we suffered mostly cuts and bruises, while I had to have about 20 stitches in my chin and that scar on my face is still visible today (I learned the hard way that there’s a lot to be said for full-face helmets).

Also fortunately, the factory workers had gotten the licence number of the car and reported it to the police who went to his home and found him and his damaged car, and he had to pay the price for his stupidity.

So I encourage all drivers out there to be aware of what’s going around them at all times when behind the wheel.

All it takes is one lapse in concentration to cause a catastrophe.

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