On a recent ride I noticed numerous drivers of various types of vehicles either using their mobile phones or playing with the Sat Nav or juggling with travel mugs of coffee and eating something they had just bought at their last pit stop.
It was very apparent that at times they were not focussing on the road ahead, and whilst it has become common knowledge that driving and using a mobile phone reduces attention and may lead to an accident, it is still something that many drivers still do, even in areas where it has become illegal. It is also one of the pet hates of riders who see this activity and see it as a real risk to riders and all road users.
So much was my disappointment in what I had witnessed that I started to focus on these drivers and how they were not concentrating on what they were doing…and you’ve guessed it! … I was focussing so much on them that I stopped focussing on the road ahead.
Luckily I caught myself in time, but it demonstrated to me that whilst riders may believe they hold the moral high ground when it comes to concentrating on the road and traffic flow, the reality is, it is not beyond any of us to be distracted at any point.
Drivers are at a disadvantage because they have a multitude of comforts within the car environment that could dull the senses and lead to a lapse in concentration. Be them, those mentioned previously, or the radio, or in car heating, or the many switches, knobs and dials that could be fiddled with or some loose article that the driver is trying to retrieve from the footwell…etc.
Riders have traditionally not had this issue to contend with, however, modern motorcycling is allowing some of these luxuries to leak through. Be them Sat Nav, Bike Setting Dials, Heated Grips, Bluetooth etc. Whilst undoubtedly they do assist the rider in certain respects, they may also distract the rider when being used.
Riders are susceptible to distractions just in the same way as other road users are, be them within the immediate driving or riding bubble or outside. How often have riders taken their eyes off the road ahead and focussed on something that has caught their eye, be it another bike, car, building or person…you get the idea! How often have you focussed on what is behind you, either what you have just passed or what is following you!
How often have you focussed on the car immediately in front of you and not the whole road ahead…erm!just like I did and narrowly miss some road kill that emerged from beneath the car in front!
If we are honest with ourselves, we all have our better days at driving and riding, and some days we could have done things better.
Raising Rider Awareness not only means becoming more aware of the actions of other road users and the road conditions but it also means becoming more aware of our own actions and our own capacity to take in all the pertinent information that can help us to avoid any developing hazards.
Something, clearly, we all need to routinely practice…me included!