By November 10, 2010

Cars Get No Respect, or Drivers Care More About Motorcyclists

I’ve been driving a car lately, and I’ve noticed that people who drive cars treat each other very differently than how they treat me while I’m on my motorcycle.

For example, if I need to merge while riding my bike it’s easy: turn on my signal, be patient, merge, wave.

It is a little more complicated if I’m in a car: signal, wait, wait, force myself into traffic, wave. Waving with more than one finger is optional.

People also tailgate me a LOT more when I’m driving the car. They also are less likely to signal before coming into my lane, and are more likely to cut me off. A woman on her mobile phone cut me off on the highway. I braked and honked my horn repeatedly. She didn’t even react and just kept coming over.

I think this is because people believe motorcycling is more dangerous than driving a car, and they don’t want me to get hurt. They are more cautious. They are more respectful of my space. They are more kind. The other side of this coin is that people think that it’s super safe to be in a car. That means they don’t have to be as cautious. They don’t give a fuck about my space, because I won’t get “hurt” wrapped in a metal cage. They are impatient and rude.

There are two things that suck about this behavior. The first is that people are rude and inconsiderate if the stakes are low. This happens with more than just driving. It’s easy to be a dick over email, text, or a forum, things change when people meet face-to-face. Maybe being in a car dehumanizes us, makes us blend in to the point where we aren’t people inside but just metal machines on the motorway. I hate that idea.

The other thing that I really dislike is the idea that cars are safe. Are cars more safe than motorcycles? In most situations, yes. However, that doesn’t make them comfy pillows zipping along at highway speeds. I think people give me a lot of leeway when I’m on the bike because the consequences of an incident are probably fatal for me. I think most people assume an autos-only collision is no big deal at comparable speeds.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve had tons of close calls on two-wheels. However I think the vast majority of these have been due to drivers not paying attention and not due to apathy or self-centeredness. I can only remember two incidents where a car invaded my lane, recognized my presence, and then kept coming over. People look embarrassed when I honk at them on my motorcycle. People look angry when I honk at them in the car.

The incidents are the same, so why the difference in attitude?

Maybe cars don’t get any respect, and maybe they care more about motorcycles.

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Posted in: motorcycling

2 Comments on "Cars Get No Respect, or Drivers Care More About Motorcyclists"

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  1. Brice says:

    Maybe all those car mirrors I’ve removed over the years are paying off…. 🙂 This is a joke, had I actually removed car mirrors I certainly wouldn’t tell the Intertubes about it.

  2. jetrois says:

    Thats better then where i live in miami they just dont give a fuck either way. especially if your on a bike I yahoo’s who routinely jump into my lane like its Christmas.