Your ever lovable Grey Beard Biker has been riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles for many years. Over these years he has ridden perhaps 300,000 miles. Needless to say, that is a lot of journeys on two wheels. I started riding street bikes in the mid-1980s. Back in those days, over three decades ago, mobile phones were quite rare. In fact, the first mobile phones did not appear in the United States until 1983. No one I knew had one – or could afford one. I could get on my Evo-powered Heritage Softail and blast down the roads knowing that most cagers were paying attention to what they were doing – and where there vehicle was headed. The biggest distractions were dropping cigarette ashes in your crotch, children bouncing around the car with no seatbelts on or turning the dial to change radio stations. It is not that way today.
Distracted Driving Today
Today, Grey Beard seldom throws his leg over the saddle without saying a silent prayer – a prayer for God to protect him, to provide him keen senses, quick reflexes and the ability to perceive everything going on around him. But he is always amazed at the amount of distracted driving going on around him. Yes, I am writing this post in the third-person – because I can!
Distracted driving comes in many forms today. It is most commonly a person more interested in their smart phone than what’s going on ahead of them – and around them! This is a very dangerous practice, even at slower speeds. For illustration purposes, let’s say the young lady above is driving 60 MPH. Every second that passes, 88 feet is covered. At 80 MPH, a typical interstate highway speed here in Tennessee, 117 feet is covered with each passing second. While I am no scientist, or statistician, I can easily calculate that this young lady, pictured above, reading a Facebook post – or posting a selfie on Snapchat – which easily takes 15 seconds – will not see what is going on ahead of her while driving a distance of 1,755 feet. That is 1/3 of a mile she has not been able to see the Grey Beard Biker (or you) slowing down ahead of her.
Other Types of Distracted Driving
There are other types of distracted driving Grey Beard witnesses fairly regularly while riding – and while men also drive distracted, the most common distracted driving, in my humble opinion, is by young women. They may be wanting to capture that special selfie while driving – when the sun is in just the right position. Or they may be doing the unconscionable: farding while they are driving! Yes, I said it! Women farding while driving is dangerous. While it does not smell bad, it does stink!
According to the definition in Merriam-Webster:
Farding (to fard): to paint (the face) with cosmetics; archaic: to gloss over
It doesn’t take much sense for anyone to recognize that applying makeup while driving is a very bad idea. It is dangerous to them – and everyone around them. Just say “NO” to FARDING!
Other things the Grey Beard Biker has seen on the road are people eating, drinking alcohol, women plucking their eyebrows, people reading the newspaper, magazines or books, people changing clothes, women giving their men fellatio, men shaving and so many other really stupid asinine things. But the craziest distracted driver Grey Beard has ever witnessed was a young woman steering with her right knee, while her left foot was up near the driver’s side window, applying toenail polish, all while holding her smartphone to her left ear by tilting her head toward her shoulder. She was using both hands to paint her toenails, all the while blasting down the interstate at well over 80 MPH! While obviously quite coordinated and nimble, this young woman needed to be pulled over and given a serious moving violation!
Ultimate Distracted Driving
The most distracted driving ever created a disaster this past Friday, in northern New Hampshire. It was on U.S. Highway 2, near Randolph, where Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, age 23, crossed the centerline of the highway, towing a larger car trailer, and ran through a group of bikers from the Jarheads Motorcycle Club. This accident killed seven club members and their supporters. Three additional bikers were hospitalized. On June 24, Zhukovskyy was indicted on seven counts of negligent homicide and extradited from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to face a jury of his peers. While much is still not known about the events which led to this tragedy – whether the truck operator was under the influence, or just distracted – it is a prime example of distracted driving which can lead to the untimely death of a biker. Grey Beard Bikers believes everyone is innocent, until proven guilty, but with the speed this young man was indicted, there would appear to be plenty of evidence he was responsible.
Grey Beard Biker Recommendations
One cannot complain about what stupid people do without making recommendations on how to improve things. Here are a couple of things which could be done:
- Make it illegal to use any handheld device while driving – Tennessee passed a law doing so earlier this year. It goes into affect on July 1. Severely punish those who break such laws. Unfortunately, there are a lot of states which have not passed similar laws.
- Smartphone manufacturers need to use technology to lock phones automatically when it detects movement in a car. Obviously, it can be turned off manually if the person is not the driver. If a driver turns this functionality off, and is on their phone, causing an accident or death, they should be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law. iPhones do have a “Do Not Disturb” mode, but this needs to be improved.
Perhaps the most important thing which can be done is for us bikers to always be vigilant. Watch the cars around you. Take a quick glance at the driver before you pull alongside them. If they are distracted, back off. Watch your mirrors constantly. If a car is closing on you quickly, safely get out of their way. If you are stopped at a traffic signal, try to leave an escape route in case a distracted driver is coming up behind you. Always remember that cars and trucks will always win in an altercation with a motorcycle. This means you will LOSE. Always ride defensively!