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Posts Tagged ‘Distracted Driving’

Many automotive motorists simply are not taking their driving task seriously.

Distractions are everywhere and some seem to think cruising down a public road is a passive activity rather, it’s a complex task that involves concentration and more than just knowing how to use the accelerator, brakes, and steering.

Few automotive motorists will land on this blog post, but if they do here are some key messages for drivers:

  • Look For Motorcyclists — Use your eyes and mirrors to see what’s around, and check the blind spots when you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections. Look, and look again.
  • Focus on Driving — Don’t Text, hang up the phone, put down the eye lash liner brush, stop adjusting the sound system, ignore the navigation system, settle the passengers, and DRIVE.
  • Use Your Turn Signals — Signal your intentions for everyone’s safety.
  • Give Motorcycles Some Room — Don’t tailgate or pass too closely.
  • Take Your Time — Nothing is as important as the safety of your loved ones, yourself, and the others with whom you share the road.

Key messages for motorcycle enthusiasts?  Responsible riding habits are paramount and always worthy of special attention.

2017 Proclamation

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month and it’s time to remind everyone about driver safety.  Please keep your mind on the road!

NOTE:  As of the blog posting time stamp there’s been NO proclamation from Oregon’s 38th  Governor or the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety on the May 2017 Motorcycle Awareness Month.  Of course members are supportive of everyone being a responsible rider with efforts centered on training to improve rider skills and communicating the dangers of motorcycling, but a statement for this year has yet to be released.

UPDATED: May 4, 2017 — CORRECTION: Governor Brown did sign a 2017 proclamation in late April about May being Motorcycle Awareness Month.  See HERE.

Photo courtesy of Motorcycle Rider News.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

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Car-TextingI’m talking about texting and distracted driving.

Based on my daily commute observations, many drivers must believe that everyone else is the problem, when actually you – YES YOU – including the dude in the beat up White Toyota who nearly went into the ditch on Sunset Highway this morning while trying to text, is in fact—the problem!

We’ve all seen the tell-tale signs of texting.  Straddling or weaving between lanes and/or driving well below the speed limit or looking down at your lap as if that isn’t obvious.

It’s unlikely that Mr. White Toyota knows that May, is designated as national Motorcycle Awareness Month, (Gov. Kitzhaber’s memo HERE).  The initiative, supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, encourages drivers to watch for motorcycles and understand that motorcycle riders have the same rights and privileges as operators of other vehicles.

The slogans are everywhere, on billboards and bumper stickers, badges and T-shirts: “Watch out for motorcycles.” “Look twice, save a life.” “Share the road.”

But, not all motorists notice the warnings and clearly the White Toyota dude believes that his one little text is more important than say… driving safe and can’t hurt that much.

It’s interesting to me that Expedia.com, released the results of the 2014 Road Rage Report, conducted on Expedia’s behalf by Northstar. Americans identify the behaviors that are likeliest to elicit road rage, from texting to swerving to speeding and beyond.  Drum roll… and the winner is…  People who text while driving incur the most anger. 69% of Americans rate “The Texter” as the most aggravating driving behavior.

We know the warmer temperatures rolling across the Northwest this month means the roads are filling up with motorcycle riders.

So, take the “distracted” out of driving and avoid becoming one of “the 69%” who report having been “flipped off” by a fellow motorist!

Photo courtesy of the WWW.

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2013 Ride to Work Day

2013 Ride to Work Day

Back in the day when a cowboy joined an outfit he threw down his bedroll in a chuck wagon.  When he does that, he gives his loyalty 100% to the outfit.  It’s a cowboy thing.  If you don’t like the way an outfit is run, you grab your bedroll, pony and ride on down the trail.

It was a code established by the rugged pioneers and is just as relevant in today’s world as back then, but I’ve gotten off topic.

I’m talking about riding for the “motorcycle” brand.

Huh?

Yesterday marked the 21st Annual Ride to Work Day—it’s a day when thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts across the U.S. ride their motorcycles to work in a show of mutual support and solidarity. Originally created by Motorcycle Consumer News columnist Bob Carpenter in 1992, the event has served as a way to promote motorcycles and rider safety; combining the ride with numerous activities around the country, including charitable events.

Many riders don’t need another incentive to ride, but the Ride to Work Day is not just something to talk about, but to participate in.  I count myself as one of the thousands of motorcycle riders and enthusiasts across the U.S., so I was up early and headed to the ‘plant’ which in of itself is a rare occurrence since I work remote most days.

Sure, I exposed myself to the situation where someone doesn’t obey the rules of the road… like that beat up Toyota mini-van which made an abrupt 2-lane change as they entered onto Highway 217.  The cars were slamming on brakes which was a little concerning, but not nearly as bad as the dude in the well-worn Ford Escape that cut me off on Highway 26.  His NO SIGNAL lane-change was so close that I thought about asking if he’d check my front tire pressure!  Or how about on the way home the lady in the Red Mazda – yeah you – with heavily tinted windows so preoccupied with her cell phone texting that she nearly rear-ended the car in front of her.

I’ve blogged at length about distracted driving in Oregon and how it’s the norm rather than exception and can honestly say that after being on the road in rush hour traffic I was not inspired, but if nothing else I was there in a “show of force” saying I rode to work today!  It was not only an opportunity to raise awareness about motorcycles, but it also provided me a chance to talk about road safety.

And speaking of transportation, one disappointment from yesterday’s Ride To Work event is the seemingly lack of visible support or promotion of two-wheel transportation by John Kitzhaber, Oregon Governor or the legislators.  You might recall that Governor Kitzhaber met recently with and challenged the Oregon Transportation Commission to create a 21st century transportation system that best serves Oregonians.  And, I’m quoting here… “A transportation system that will attract and grow business, provide mobility, reduce the carbon impacts of transportation and transition into a truly multimodal and efficient transportation system for the state of Oregon.”

I would think that two-wheel transportation is part of that “system” and the absence of visible support is odd given Oregon’s home-grown, Brammo that manufactures electric motorcycles in Ashland, and it’s perplexing given that Senators Ron Wyden and Representative Greg Walden worked to get a tax credit extension for Brammo.

One has to ask if we have the right group of individuals at the transportation table at the beginning of the process to define the problem and solution together?

Photo of author.

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HCMR-BakerCityHere is what you need to know.

From June 22nd through July 27th there will be a SIGNIFICANT increase (thousands) of motorcycles on the roads and motorcyclists visiting the state, attending various rallies and riding the famed Oregon highways.

Yeah, those roads.  The ones with bumps, holes, cracks and gravel bits peppering riders.  And don’t forget the lane ridges and rises.  Or the grooved surfaces and mix-matched joints on bridges.  Even the best roads in Oregon have imperfections that a motorist may not feel, but to a motorcyclist these seemingly simple hazards can be dangerous or life threatening.  If you’ve traveled Highway 217 in the last 6-weeks you can instantly relate.  Vehicles bounce and weave around like they are doing the “NASCAR bump.”

Good-Vib09But, road conditions are the least of the concerns. If you’ve driven any local freeway lately you’ve likely notice numerous examples of drivers who are distracted – texting, using cell phones, eating/drinking, talking to passengers, grooming or adjusting the car stereo bass knob.  These are not infrequent occurrences or isolated incidents.  Distracted driving is commonplace in Oregon!

When drivers are not giving 100% of their faculties or attention to the roadways while operating motor vehicles along with thousands of additional motorcycles/motorcyclists on the road – a perfect storm of circumstances for injuries or fatalities exist.

It’s been a while since there have been so many Oregon events all packed into the same date range.  The specific events I’m referring to are:

Harley-Davidson World Ride – Everywhere – June 23-24 – Attendee estimates are 1000+ of motorcyclists state-wide
Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally – Baker City, OR – July 12-15 – Attendee estimates are 1000+ motorcyclists traveling east
Good Vibrations – Salem, OR – July 12-14 – Attendee estimates are 1000+ of motorcyclists in Salem/Keizer area
BMW MOA International Rally – Salem, OR – July 18-21 – Attendee estimates are 5500+ motorcyclists in Salem and surrounding area
Run 21 Rally – Tygh Valley – July 19-21 – Attendee estimates are 500+ motorcyclists
Oregon HOG RallyRiding The Wild West – Pendleton, OR – July 25-27 – Attendee estimates are 1000+ of motorcyclists traveling east

Pendleton-ORMost all of these events have an implied or are specifically being advertised as a celebratory rally and a huge party.  Nobody is supposed to talk about this, but it doesn’t help to avoid it when we know that “bottles to throttle” don’t mix.

Accidents will happen on roadways.  But the likelihood that they will occur shouldn’t be increased by vehicle distracted driving, motorcyclists misjudgments or funding to make the roadways safer for motorcycles.

I’ll get to the point and off my soap box.

If you are an automobile driver then you have a duty to put down the cell phone (one in every 10 fatalities on the road is distraction-affected crashes), set the radio or apply cosmetics in the driveway and keep an eye out for motorcyclists during this high traffic period.

If you’re one of the thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts visiting or attending an Oregon rally – a hearty welcome to our great state – but, you have a duty to ride sober and with the utmost care.  Travel safe.

Photos taken by author.

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Firestone-Tire-SafetyIn Oregon, support for a ban on smoking in cars with kids is well on its way to the Governor.   Senate Bill 444 which passed the Oregon Senate last week would allow police to ticket drivers who were caught smoking in their car if anyone under 18 was present after they were pulled over for another offense.

It’s another example in a long list of arbitrary and capricious “nanny state” regulations, but it passed easily.

The action is no different than what the “Soda Jerk” – NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – has attempted by imposing his will for the sheer sake of being a true believer in the lifesaving consequences of HIS health agenda.  It would be similar to – and I hate to even provide the idea – the Portland Mayor forcing top-shelf restaurants such as Andina and The Chart House to no longer serve bottles of wine as a way to fight alcoholism.

Independent of what I think about this second-hand cigarette smoking measure, I’m unapologetically against “nanny state” regulation and government highhanded scolding through regulation.  These so-called “substantive bills” seem to have no limit to the government imposing their will for the sheer sake of it.

But, I’m not blogging to rail about poor parenting skills, or scold people for excessive Cherry Coke consumption or promote a car smoking ban.  Rather, once the regulators keep kids safe from second hand smoke where do their idle hands focus next?  Likely on our bedrooms with unmanned vehicles spying monitoring from the back yard patio?!

According to this report (.pdf) only nine % of Oregonians think the government spends money wisely.  The fact that state legislators spent any time on a second-hand smoke issue – which isn’t on anyone’s top 10 list – just amplifies the point.

If a mental break is needed from addressing big issues like PERS reform, streamlining the tax code or fixing the corrections budget, take some time to ponder the number of Oregonians who are effected by road conditions.

As regulators race to Salem complaining about drivers on their cell phones “parked” in the left lane… slow down and look at the poor conditions of the pavement.  I invite you to check out the pavement on OR 217, where fewer than 100K+ vehicles travel daily.  It’s so severely rutted that sections are dangerous for motorcycle travel.  Automobiles changing lanes pepper cars with loose asphalt from the rutted right side to the rutted left lane and bounce around until they settle into the ruts.  It’s worse during the rain… which is 300 days of the year!  The last time major repaving occurred on OR 217 was back in 2006.  Prior to ‘06 it was repaved in 1994.

There are sections of OR 217 that should be classified as “structurally deficient” and signs should be erected in places similar to the “Motorcycles Use Extreme Caution” in Washington State.

The funding and road repair priorities in the state are a big issue.  The second-hand smoke while driving bill is nothing but a distraction and disguised to make voters believe regulators are doing something in the capital.

Hey Salem… we’re watching!

UPDATE: March 28, 2013 – The Oregon Legislature tried to pass a similar smoking bill (HB 2385) in the 2009 session.   And according to this report seven states currently ban smoking in automobiles with children under the age of 18 years old.  Interestingly, there are currently 17 states which ban smoking in vehicles while transporting foster children, including the state of Oregon.  The report provides a number of reasons to support smoke-free vehicles when children are present.

UPDATE: June 4, 2013 – The Oregon House yesterday passed Senate Bill 444 in 43-15 vote against the objections of some lawmakers who groused about it as a “nanny state” provision.  The bill will allow police to ticket smokers if the were pulled over for another offense.  The violation would cost $250 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.  The bill now heads to Gov. Kitzhaber, who has said he will sign it. 

Photo courtesy of Firestone.  Full Disclosure: As an aging blogger and survivor of smoking parents and lifelong non-smoker myself I’m sure the Smithsonian will be looking for a location to display my corpse.

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It started out like any other routine day.  Up early, shower, comb the hair, brush the teeth, start up the automobile and head out enroute to various scheduled appointments.

Except on this day Marcia Brandon was guilty of listening to the radio as she fidgeted with the automobile controls and multitasked down the highway.  The preening on the road was a costly lesson as she drove distracted, lost in thought on the road.

Because on this day the 82-year old woman was cited by Oregon State Police (OSP) for driving 110 mph in a 55 mph zone on Highway 26 west of Gresham.  That’s correct 110 mph!  When the OSP trooper finally overtook the hulking Pontiac Bonneville and was able to pull over Marcia Brandon (did I already state she was 82 years old?) she stated that she wasn’t aware she was driving that fast.  In fact, she had no idea that the car’s hazard lights were blinking on either as she whizzed past other traffic.

Ms Brandon was cited for Violation of the Basic Rule – 110 mph in a 55 mph speed zone.

Convictions for driving over 100 mph now carry a mandatory minimum 30 – 90 day suspension in addition to a $1,103 fine.  Since 2006, with the stronger law and penalties, drivers traveling 100 mph or faster have decreased.  In 2009, troopers cited 298 drivers for traveling 100 mph or faster on Oregon highways, an approximate 21% decrease from 2008 (376 drivers cited) and 45% since 2006 (537 drivers cited).  In 2009 DMV noted 313 drivers received court ordered suspensions for driving over 100 mph, 366 court ordered suspensions in 2008, and 428 court ordered suspensions in 2007.

But, this isn’t my main point.  After a quick scan of the OSP site, Ms Brandon is in good company!  I’m alarmed at the number of age impaired driving accidents over the last 30 days and this is just a small sampling of the accidents:

  1. Roy Lester Shideler (age 82) – driving on a suspended  WA. license traveled into the ditch on Hwy 395 and was ejected from the vehicle and died.
  2. Irma Crumrine (age 81) pulled in front of a vehicle on Hwy 97 and seven people were injured.  All survived.
  3. Sandra Boehme (age 66) traveled across the center line striking a pickup which then created two other vehicles to crash.  All survived.
  4. Delia Le Blue (age 78) collided with a van making a left hand turn on Hwy 26 resulting in serious injuries.
  5. Clinton Deshazer (age 71) for unknown reasons crossed the centerline and collided with a semi-truck which resulted in serious injuries.

It turns out the fastest growing segment of the driving population are seniors who make up 9% (about 19 million) of the nation’s drivers. This figure is expected to jump to more than 30 million drivers by 2020.  Drivers aged 75 and older have a 37% higher crash rate than younger drivers, according to the Elder Law Journal, published by the College of Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  And with the exception of teenage drivers, seniors have the highest probability of death resulting from an auto-related accident of any age group.

Sure, age alone does not determine a person’s ability to operate an automobile, but evidence suggests that certain characteristics associated with aging impair driving performance.

I acknowledge that independence of senior drivers is very important and fundamental to maintaining our freedoms, but I’m not sure the state/DMV tests are doing enough for road safety when an 82 year old is licensed and feels empowered or unrestricted to travel 110 mph on her way to errands.

Why so many age related vehicle accidents when by law Oregon drivers aged 50 and up must undergo a vision test verifying they can safely scan and traverse the roads?  The testing must occur upon license renewal and every eight years thereafter.

Given the aging population trends there needs to be more done by DMV in validating an aged driver’s abilities.

UPDATE: October 26, 2010 – Just yesterday, Martha Lockhart (age 82, from Olivehurst, CA.) stopped near Toledo on Hwy 229 at the intersection of Hwy 20.  For some unknown reason she pulled out into the path of a semi-truck which was pulling empty pole trailers.  The collision flipped the trailers which in turn collided with a Chevy truck registered to Oregon State and was being driven by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW) employee Tamara Elizabeth Wagner (age 52) who was pronounced deceased at the scene.  Ms Lockhart and the truck driver received non-life threatening injuries.

Photo courtesy of: The Incredible Hulk from The Super-Hero Squad Show, © Marvel Entertainment

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