May was Motorcycle Awareness month…
That doesn’t sound right, or make any sense, right? Well, you probably already know what I’m going to say next and probably already said it yourself. Every month is Motorcycle Awareness Month! Or every day should be. Same gist.
While I am still delving into the disbelief of losing someone very close to us in the past few weeks on a bike, I have been pondering how I was going to write this letter this month. It is terrible that as motorcycle riders we are forced to accept the risks that are out there every single day. I’m not talking about the gravel, the grass clippings, and all the critters on the side of the road. I’m talking about other people on the roads watching for us. As I’m writing this, I find myself deleting and deleting repeatedly because I sound too angry when I read it over. So, instead of jumping on my soapbox with two feet and sounding angry at the world, I’ll just share a little home life and a few facts instead.
11 teens die a day because of texting and driving.
My son who is 15 years young has been on me for almost a full month to allow and help him get a moped. “It would help him get around town and to get where he feels he needs to be this summer.” I’ll say, he pleaded his case well and hasn’t really been badgering me like he would in the past. Is my boy growing up?? I’m in, but we had to discuss this a bit more before making any decisions. I asked him if he had spoken to his mother about it yet and mentioned that we would also have to speak with Aly about it too. After all it would be convenient for us to not have to run him all over town all the time, he could be responsible for himself a little more, and he does have a chunk saved up to help with the cost. Plus, it was fun thinking back to being his age and how much fun it was to hit the road on two wheels! It feels empowering even if it’s on a moped. I’m in!
Currently 1 out 4 accidents are caused by texting while driving.
So, then I start swinging the questions at him to see how much planning he had actually put into this idea. I knew he had some cash saved up because he was already saving for an electric mountain bike, but he’s also been on this shoe collecting kick. All I can say is “squirrel” when it comes to his savings attempts. So, I ask how much money do you have left to pitch in on a moped son? Who do you know that has one already? He didn’t realize I was asking him that question out of both humor and out of curiosity because I know from experience that it’s usually where it all starts – lol. The questioning continued. Okay, how long have they owned it and have you been with them when they have been riding it? Okay, do you think they are good at rider? Are they riding legally, and do you think they are being cautious and safe out there? Have they got in any trouble with it since they got it? Are they aware of the rules of the road? Oh?… I pause and then… hmmm, okay. So, do you think you would be a better rider than them and more importantly, a safer rider? Well, he had some good answers until the last few questions. Thankfully, he was honest with me, and he admitted that he had rode his buddies moped (duh) and that he had seen him blow stop signs and drop it coming to stops. Sound familiar? He then proceeded to tell me about all his buds’ bad habits without realizing I was imagining him riding alongside him the whole time he was talking. Okay, I’m thinking that I’m glad he sees his buds’ faults, but this is his close buddy and I know what one does, typically the other will follow. So, all the fears I had in the back of my mind started to come out. I was in, but now I’m back out again! I admitted that I wasn’t ready to say yes. My fears as a parent got me. I needed to walk away from the conversation for a bit to question my fears and if I was being fair or not. I needed to think about it more.
So, I’m back in again, but not without a good sit down together with him. We had the talk again. The one about all the dangers people that ride two wheels face on the road each day and always being aware of our surroundings. This isn’t a new conversation between us since I have owned motorcycles his whole life. I’ve never really been without one since he was born. He’s been on most of them over the years with me. That’s beside the point. I needed to make sure I brought up how things are different these days compared to when I was his age. Not only while riding two wheels, but when we are driving our cars too! Oof, he doesn’t even have his drivers permit yet and I’ll save my early year stories for a much later date! – lol. While shaking my head at myself, it was hard for him to imagine that cellphones didn’t exist “back in the day.” Texting while driving didn’t exist. It wasn’t even a thing for us, and it’s gotten to be crazy out of control. I’ll say it… I’m 100% okay with the state stepping in and governing when it comes to this worsening issue. Regulations need to be made. I DO believe that cell phones need to be harnessed while driving and that certain apps do not need to work while a vehicle is moving. Let’s be honest, we are all guilty of picking up our phones from time to time while on the road. It’s a sad fact and please let this comparison sink in…
Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than drunk driving.
I guess my point is this, it’s a shit show out on the roads these days and I’m tired of losing friends and loved ones out there. I’ll keep cutting the grass around my “Look Twice” sign in my front yard for all those passing by to see, we’ll keep sharing and posting through the month of May about Motorcycle Awareness, and we’ll renew our ABATE membership when it comes due to support the cause, but we all need to do more! We need to do more for each other! We need to do more for all the future riders like my son. Have conversations regularly with your families and children that are just learning to drive. Have conversations regularly with those you meet that don’t ride. Make it a point to talk about the risks we face as motorcyclists and what we all can do together to make it safer and broaden the chance that we get to come home safely. Yeah, it’s June and May was Motorcycle Awareness month, but I really do want to be able to ride with my son for as long as I can when he’s old enough to join me. I hope we’ll be able to do so until I just can’t ride anymore. That includes both Aly and I. Not because it was cut short by unfortunate or unnecessary reasons that could have been avoided.
After all, what is stepping on a “soapbox” worth and what good does it do if nobody stops to listen? It’s great to share our awareness posts on biker pages and groups and in biker magazines, but it’s everyone around us that needs to see and hear it too! Not just us riders! I pray that my son listened to what I’ve said and that the Lord blesses him and you with safe journeys, always.
Sam Villegas, you are gone, but never forgotten. #LockTite