Inside Insurance: Two wheels makes a big difference

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A motorcycle with three vehicles behind it stopped at a red light in the Atlanta metro this week. Vehicle four slams into the third car, and there was heavy vehicle damage to the cars. The motorcyclist died.

As one who monitors news media it is very clear to me that motorcyclists are truly endangered. Some are victims, and others are responsible for their own demise. Those are the facts. Today’s issue is not with the cyclists as much as it is with the car and truck drivers who share the road.

As I travel the interstates and secondary roads across Georgia, I find it interesting to watch the cyclists as they travel either ahead of, next to, or behind me.

Just this past week I came upon a group of Rolling Thunder cyclists, and there is a lot to be said for these former military troops and their companions. They are courteous, they tend to stay in a tight group, and they are usually older, more “settled” drivers.

Then there are the smaller groups from two to six cyclists and they, too, tend to ride together but not always as a tight group, and they vary widely by age.

The solo cyclists are an interesting and wide-ranging group from the graybeards to the bullet bike riders who never saw a speed limit sign they could read.

Let’s be honest, the same can be said for the 4-wheel drivers.

What is a serious concern is the number of traffic fatalities of cyclists and why they occur. High on my list of what to watch out for are those drivers who don’t seem to pay attention to cyclists. Sure, we’ve discussed distracted driving enough, but these cyclists have to be treated with respect every bit as much as other four or more wheelers.

In my younger days I greatly enjoyed my Honda 360. It was a pre-bullet bike to say the least, but it was fun to ride so I understand the trials and tribulations of both the cyclists and traditional driver perspective.

If you think about it, cyclists have very little protection, especially when they don’t wear a helmet in several states and wear only jeans and a T-shirt. Then there are the middle of the road riders who use helmets, wear decent clothing to help protect in case of an accident, and sometimes there is the cyclist who wears a racing suit, which makes me wonder whether it is speed or safety that concerns those folks.

Motorcyclists do not seem to ride inexpensive bikes any more, but my old 360, a Harley, or a touring bike still has a high risk not just for the careless cyclist but even for those who are vary careful until they are hit by a motorist who just was not paying attention.

Insurers understand the risks for both the drivers of the four-wheelers and the three- or two-wheel kind. For those who ride bikes, insurers encourage taking of a safety course to better equip the cyclist for what can happen on the road. Our member companies also are concerned when drivers accumulate traffic tickets as that indicates an increasing level of carelessness.

Sharing the road puts responsibility on both the cyclists and the larger vehicle drivers. As I’ve mentioned previously, driving is truly a team sport, and not to be confused with a right to drive. It is most definitely an earned privilege for all who use the roadways.

David Colmans is the executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information Service. Contact him at (770) 565-3806 or dcolmans@giis.org.


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