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submitted by: Bob & Carol Muschiana
GWRRA Rider Education, FL1-S

Road Etiquette - Is It Dead?? In Praise of Semi Drivers and Bikers

I know that writing this to motorcyclists is preaching to the choir but if this touches a nerve with you, please take it, reproduce it and share it with anyone and everyone. Our country is in need of change and going back to a little bit of kindness and polite manners on the road is one way we can help. When we are driving cars, we need to use the same etiquette as when on two wheels.

As I ride my bike on the roads of America, it is disheartening to see how we treat each other on the roads. I am mainly talking about the people in cars. I would rather share the road with the 18 wheeler - now there is a driver with manners!! Have you ever noticed how often they use their blinkers for lane changes - almost every time. They use them when making all turns too. AND, they use the blinkers way ahead of the lane change to let other drivers know of their intent. I have come to think that the new cars no longer come with blinkers - they never get used. I have found that if a person IS on a cell phone with one hand and the other on the steering wheel, it is very hard to engage the blinker. Have you ever seen a semi or biker blink his/her lights after someone has passed them - wonder what that means. It says you are clear of my rig / bike and I am OK with you to come across in front of me - to change back to the right lane. Oh, and that right lane--that is the one ALL drivers should be in unless they wish to pass a vehicle. If you are in the left lane on the phone - well hang up and get into the right lane. AND there is a law on that one.

Mirrors and head check - what is that, making sure your head is screwed on before you got into a car? I don't think so. A semi has a minimum of two mirrors; most have four to help the driver see all his blind spots. Blind spots are on every vehicle on the road from semis to cars and motorcycles. It is up to all drivers to use the blinkers and mirrors and head check for blind spots BEFORE making a move from your lane.

Traffic lights; if its green, that means to proceed. If you are on the phone texting or talking, there will be a delay in your time to get the vehicle moving. AND this will result in not as many people getting thru the green light as should have. And, as the light turns to yellow, you should be calculating as to if you need to stop before the light turns red - BEFORE crossing the white line. If you run the red light and the driver going across your line of travel is timing the light to turn green the same time he/she enters the intersection, you are going to get "T" boned. Yes, this will happen if you are on the phone as it took you that split second to decide which is more important, milk for dinner or the red light.

While on the subject of traffic lights, if you are trying to make a left turn and the light is green, you should move forward into the intersection, over the white line and, if possible, over the white line (a practice called stacking an intersection) so other drivers can turn left when the light is yellow and it IS clear to proceed. If this is not done, only one car will make it through at a time. If you are on the phone, chances are you will not be paying attention to this maneuver and the guy behind you might get frustrated and honk the horn - which is against the law too.

Stop signs - yup, that's what it means, STOP. Not slight touch on pedal, but stop. Most semis and bikers will yield to those that must SLIDE thru a stop sign. For the semi, although he is bigger than the car, the accident still goes on semi drivers record and most police would figure the big truck should have given in to the car. For the motorcyclist, it is just simple--the car is bigger and it hurts to hit the car. You may notice that most semi drivers will hold back at a stop sign to allow cars to get in front of them as he knows he will be a little slow to get up to speed - just nice drivers. A group of bikers will also hold back at a stop sign. They will allow a few cars to go before the bikes in an effort to get an opening for all the bikes to get around together and stay together.

Groups - truckers and bikers; they ride in groups for a reason - safety. They watch out for each other and try to keep close enough to keep cars from getting between them. Truckers like bikers, bikers like truckers because they understand that a group of like-minded travelers is a safe way to be on the road. When a car driver, especially one on the phone gets in the middle of a group, it can spell disaster. That is one reason they travel fairly close - to keep the cars out of their lineup. Most truckers and bikers can and will communicate with each other in their group; either by CB or hand signals if a car driver is on the phone and driving as to cause danger to others.

If you are seeing a pattern here, yes there is and it is the "All About ME" syndrome and the all but ever problematic cell phone. For the motorcyclist, we would love to see them banned for use in cars - but that will never happen. Our culture has become dependent upon the cell phone and it is here to stay. We must learn to use them responsibly. If you must "receive an important call, please use a hands free ear bud or the blue tooth in most new car audio systems. As for texting, there is no excuse, don't do it. It has been outlawed in many states and is against the law.

In closing, Carol and I have gone to the funeral of a dear friend that was killed in an accident involving a cell phone. The young woman is forever going to carry that burden of killing an innocent man because she was on the phone. For us in the semi and motorcycle, we must be ever vigilant of the cell phone user that is out to kill us because he/she has no etiquette and/or manners - it's all about me.

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