Did you know as motorcycle riders/enthusiasts we have been deemed to be different from other motorists? We have been identified to stand out amongst the masses and it has been determined that we should receive "special" treatment not afforded to the majority of others who operate vehicles on public roads. Solely identified and singled out by our two wheels and engine, we have been selected to be treated differently than others on the road. I think they have a term for something like this: profiling.
Ice cream cones with extra fudgie scoops, golden coins good for motorcycle washes and buckets of 3 Mile Island wings at Hooters, complete tax exemption status, free extended stay hours at all Holiday Inns, the ability to light illegal fireworks anytime and anywhere, and a lifetime supply of leather conditioner are things we aren't entitled to. Think Big, really big, like president or Pope-mobile big. I'm talking about protection!
Protection from who you ask? Well, from ourselves I guess. Apparently we need to be singled out and swept off public roadways by local, state, and federal government agencies all in the name of protecting us from ourselves? Don't believe me? According to a release by the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (mrf.org), the US Department of Transportation-NHTSA followed through with providing a $70,000 grant to the Georgia Department of Public Safety for a motorcycle-only checkpoint program (New York has been conducting motorcycle only checkpoints for a couple years now). Funding for the grant was whisked along despite a request from 11 members of Congress asking the USDOT not to follow through with the grant until relevant questions regarding the intent/benefits of the program were addressed.
How are checkpoints going to protect us from ourselves? Obviously they'll be checking for intoxicated riders (operating any motorized vehicle while intoxicated is dangerous) but I'm sure they'll also be checking for non-DOT helmets, and improperly or unlicensed riders. Now once they have you on the side of the road, I'm sure they'll be more than happy to further improve your safety by inspecting your bike for a modified/illegal exhaust and other modifications. I guess they're going with the stereotype that all motorcyclists are a danger to themselves and therefore need to be protected via checkpoints. Isn't it scary how harmful we are to ourselves? Good thing big brother's watching over us and our bikes, oh and our wallets-don't want to forget about that.
Ok, now that we've learned how detrimental we are to ourselves and that we should all probably be 5150'd, we need to stop being so ego-centric and think about all the other motorists. We need to remember we are merely granted the privilege to share a sliver of the road with the millions of motorists who think they own the road.
Therefore, in an effort to do right by all non-motorcyclists, I think it is our duty to warn the others and raise awareness of how dangerous we are to ourselves. How do we do this? Well we'll definitely need help to spread the word, with help from local, state, and national law enforcement agencies. I envision a program where every vehicle operator on the road is diverted to the side of the road where enforcement officials can politely inform them about the crazy motorcycle riders.
Actually, last time I recall nearly being in what could have been a devastating motorcycle accident (yesterday morning) it wasn't my fault at all. It was (or would have been) the fault of the driver who made a left directly in front of me causing me to cross over into the opposing lane to swerve around her vehicle. So in that case, wouldn't that essentially have made her a danger to herself? But then again I'm sure somehow it would have been my fault she didn't see me in broad daylight.
Now if this was taken to a national scale and the government was to begin singling out groups solely based on predetermined stereotypes or profiles, force them to pull over, and subject them to a search without probable cause or incident all in the name of safety; I would imagine a very long list of checkpoints all along our roadways for other groups could be conjured up. But then that would probably be met with widespread national panic and uproar about violating the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments/people's civil rights. But I guess as motorcyclists we are just an exception to the rules.
Until next time, Eric