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Once the weather warms and the roads are clear of snow motorcycles begin to hit the roadways.The temperature changes from the sunshine to the shade, the sweet smell of hay, grass and dirt and the dull roar of gears changing and engine revving all make for part of the experience and what beckons bikers from their winter hibernations. With the close of May, National Motorcycle Awareness month, a plea goes out to motor vehicle drivers to understand the importance of motorcycle awareness.
Susan Jensen, co-creator of the Rollin with a Cause benefit for Type1 Diabetes, has been riding since high school when she would ride her Shadow 500 to get to class. Jensen said, "There is just something about being on one that is freeing and lets you escape as well as encompass the surroundings and scenery on a whole different level."
With the changing weather and the high price of fuel, more and more people are turning to motorcycles for transportation. "There are more inexperienced motorcyclists on the road these days, not to mention the shear increase in volume, which demands more attention and awareness in all aspects of ALL drivers, not just the motorists." said Jensen.
Kevin Thurman, a Blackfoot native and BHS graduate now living in Phoenix, had been riding motorcycles since he was 8 years old, mostly dirt bikes.
In 2006 he turned his fascination to road bikes. He's a Harley man.
In November of 2011Thurman was headed to work. It was early Saturday morning when an inattentive driver change his entire life. Thurman was struck broadside by a car that was rolling through a left turn. The impact severed his leg just above his ankle, broke the femur bone along with taking three inches off it. He broke his back, four ribs, his collar bone and his shoulder blade.
Thurman was lucky to leave the scene alive. Thurman recalls laying on the curb and thinking, "this really hurts."
As bystanders rushed to the scene they told him not to look down at his legs and he knew something was seriously wrong.
At the hospital, Thurman had 13 doctors and specialists to piece him back together and mend his wounds. Like the story of Humpty Dumpty, Thurman could not be put back together again and lost his leg. He has a titanium rod from his knee to his hip to replace the three inches of missing femur, rods and pins in his back, and is in a wheelchair.
Once Thurman was well enough to leave the hospital, the staff informed him that he could not go back to his apartment which was on the second floor. He was asked which homeless shelter he would like to be placed in. That's when things really started to sink in for Thurman.
Fortunately, Thurman had caring friends that took him into their home. Three seconds of inattention will be a lifetime of recovery, hard work, and dramatic lifestyle changes for Thurman. Thurman has hopes to receive a prosthetic leg and says when he does, "I will ride again."
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) says "Over half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Most of the time, the motorist, not the motorcyclist, is at fault. There are a lot more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road, and some drivers don't 'recognize' a motorcycle; they ignore it (usually unintentionally)."
Part of the reason for this is the motorcycle's small size. They are easily hidden in blind spots or masked by other objects.
Take extra time to look for motorcycles. Give motorcyclists more space. Bikers downshift and slow down differently than a car and will not always use their brakes. Predict they may slow down without a visual warning.
The MSF asks, "When a motorcycle is in motion, see more than the motorcycle, see the person under the helmet, who could be your friend, neighbor or relative."
Most vehicle crashes with motorcycles cause serious, if not fatal, injury.
Whether you choose to drive a mini-van or a Harley, take extra precautions this summer to drive defensively.
A split moment of reading a text, changing the radio station, or hollering at your kids in the back seat could be the moment that changes your own and someone else's life forever.