published Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Inside Insurance: Two wheels makes a big difference

David Colmans

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. Today¹s 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 ³Rolling Thunder² 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.

Let¹s 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 don¹t seem to pay attention to cyclists. Sure, we¹ve 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 don¹t 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 I¹ve 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 executive director of the Georgia Insurance Information

Service. Contact him at 770-565-3806 or by email at dcolmans@giis.org.

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