By Bruce Mike
A couple of weeks ago my cousin was killed while driving his moped. He was traveling north on Central Avenue in Northeast Minneapolis. While crossing Lowry Avenue, with a green light, an SUV traveling south, turned left in front of him, failing to yield to oncoming traffic. It was 10:30 at night on a Thursday. I live in Northeast and traffic on Central at that time is not very busy. The driver of the SUV was obviously not paying attention. My cousin was a very experienced rider. He had more miles on a moped than most motorcycle riders have.
A few years ago my wife and I were on a motorcycle trip. We were in Lafayette Indiana on our way home when a car in opposing traffic turned left in front of her at a green light. Failing to yield to oncoming traffic. I was driving my bike behind my wife and I saw the young man speed through the turn without even looking. Her wrist was broken and still causes her pain today.
Failing to yield to oncoming traffic is against the law. Unfortunately you only get a ticket for failing to yield when you cause an accident when doing it.
Left turns are always dangerous. That’s why vehicle navigation systems try to route you to your destination making as few left turns as possible. I am very cautious regarding left turns. When I approach an intersection, opposing traffic turning left is as much of a concern to me as vehicles crossing in front of me. Especially when I’m on a motorcycle. I have been teased while traveling because I will skip gas stations and food stops that are on the left in favor of something on the right.
I have a commercial driver’s license and in the defensive driving classes I had we were told repeatedly that nearly all accidents can be avoided. I truly believe this. If everybody on the road were paying attention then most accidents wouldn’t happen. When I say paying attention I’m talking about focusing on the task of driving. This means you are doing the best you possibly can driving your vehicle. This means you’re not drinking then driving, you’re not texting, you’re not talking on your phone, you’re not playing with your radio, you’re driving and that’s it. If there are traffic situations that confuse you — What to do at a four-way stop? — How to properly merge into traffic? — What to do when an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is on the same road as you? — Take some time when you are not driving to ask Google, or whatever your search engine of choice is, what to do in these situations.
Driving a motorcycle requires constant focus. One of my favorite things about being on a motorcycle is the fact that it is just me in my helmet. No music, no phone, nobody talking to me. It’s just me and the bike. In today’s driving environment I have to drive like I’m invisible. Cars today are designed to distract you while you drive. They have navigation screens on the dashboard, power ports, USB ports, cameras, 35 cup holders and DVD players. I have to assume nobody sees me.
I realize, in regards to our readers, that I’m preaching to the choir but I’m hoping people will share this article with others and maybe one person will pay closer attention when they make left turns and they will yield to the oncoming motorcycle/vehicle. That simple pause and everybody’s life goes on.
Rest in peace Jim Pederson. You will be missed by many.