Motorcyclists make choices every time they ride. The choice of safety begins before the rider steps onto the motorcycle, and continues throughout the ride. Some choices are made for you, and accidents can happen to anyone. Here in Southwest Florida a rider leaves school headed for his home. The temperature a balmy ninety degrees with humidity around ninety percent. The rider considers stopping to get something to eat and drink having not eaten all day long prior to riding off, and decides to wait till he gets home considering the economics. Mistake number one. Strapping on his open face helmet with face-shield, the rider is dressed in long pants, boots, fingerless gloves, and short sleeves. Considering the oppressive heat and humidity the rider puts his denim jacket back in the trunk and mounts the motorcycle. Mistake number two.
It is a Tuesday afternoon in the Fort Myers Florida area, and being late spring the traffic is still fairly heavy. The summer college session has just began and it is the second day of classes. The rider starts the motorcycle does a simple check of all the working controls and exits the parking lot. Every rider develops a sense of how traffic feels. This sense is not easily defined, but is probably a unconscious realization of how traffic is interacting on any given day. The rider can see the traffic appear to be moving smoothly, and though traffic is heavy lane-changes are accomplished with out hassle. Driving along a main street the rider notices traffic is moving in fits and starts. The final rush of tourists to the area has lead to an afternoon traffic jam. All alternatives considered the rider decides to change to the fast lane where traffic seems to be moving smoothly. Mistake number three.
Traffic speeds up, and traffic stops. The rider listens to the crystal clear Hondaline stereo while following the slow moving traffic from stoplight to stoplight. The rider sitting above most of the traffic watches the brake-lights slowly light car by car, and begins braking early. Approximate speed perhaps thirty miles per hour. The car directly in front of the Goldwing starts to brake more aggressively, and the rider applies more pressure to the foot brake and brake lever. Approximate speed twenty miles per hour. The car and motorcycle both slow with the motorcycle easily out stopping the car. Almost. The motorcyclist is in the left third of the lane to better facilitate seeing ahead, and also so drivers behind him will notice the motorcycle easier. The rider looks down at the speedometer, and the world suddenly flips. The front wheel skids a little less than six feet, and then slides to the right. The motorcycle tips over to the left in a classic low side slide. The left Kuryakyn wind wing vanishes, popping out of place the left passenger armrest buries itself in the rear trunk, various parts and pieces slide across traffic, and the bike spins clockwise then reverses it’s rotation coming to a stop facing down the lane of traffic. Total distance from loss of control to full stop less than twenty feet. The rider was pitched off during the low slide, and slung forward of the motorcycle on the first part of the spin. Sliding the full distance the rider inspects the muffler assembly of the car he was following, and imprints the Ariva radial tire pattern of the car into his chest for future analysis. Obviously another mistake was perpetrated here.
Pulling himself out from under the car he had been following the rider takes a careful inventory of what on his person is broke, or just leaking. The toll of injuries? The left arm has severe abrasions to the upper arm and lower, The right hand has been mashed at some point, left hip and lower back receive blunt traumas, left leg some sort of pressure injury, lacerations to the face from the shattered face shield, and finally one destroyed digital pager. Walking back to the Goldwing the rider reaches down and snatches the bike almost straight up and down. One strained back thank you. Eerily the rider notices two things; The motorcycle is still running, and abrasions bleed a lot. Filling out the proper notices, reports, and personal information the rider notices his vital fluids quickly cover anything he writes on. The local rescue truck arrives and informs the rider that they have to take him to the hospital if he does not refuse treatment. The deputy that arrives on scene walks out to where the accident began, kicks the asphalt raising a puff of dust “Here’s the problem here, sugar sand, looks like you hit ya’ some.” Thanking the public servants the rider gets on the motorcycle, and RIDES THE BIKE HOME. Mistake number five.
Stubbornness rules the students life. Considering the fact the rider is a college student, he has no medical insurance he refuses to seek medical attention until his family finally forces him to the doctor hours later. The doctor being a two-wheeled enthusiast insures that the motorcyclist receives proper negative reinforcement to not repeat an accident ever to soon, with the judicious use of iodine, hydrogen peroxide, and a sponge. Upon his return home the motorcyclist contacts his insurance company (Cycle Guard), and they promise to send an adjuster quickly. The insurance adjuster arrives on Friday, and takes a variety of instant pictures of the battered Wing. The adjuster explains how this much damage will probably result in the rider being dropped by the insurance agency, and why ever the insurance agency would want to insure “MOTORCYCLES” he does not understand. The adjuster’s obvious distaste for the riders preferred transportation could not have been stated more plainly.
Contacting several fellow Gold Wing Road Riders members the rider manages to secure a trailer to tow the motorcycle to a reputable dealer a hundred miles away, and after a week and a half the estimate is completed. The rider considered the estimate stoically as his vision swam into and out of focus. Total estimated repair costs. Ten thousand dollars. For. A. Fifteen. Mile. An. Hour. Accident. The frame was straight, but all of the body work was scraped, scratched, or cracked. The fork tubes were bent slightly, and the front wheel was out of true with a large dent in it. Remembering how he road the motorcycle home he was heard to exclaim “OH S**T!!” The motorcycle had only lightly contacted the car, but had struck the curb hard. Going over each page of the motorcycle’s estimate the rider carefully figures what is necessary repairs, and what was basic beauty items, the price is still staggering. Returning home the rider sends the insurance adjuster the estimate and waits. And waits. And waits.
Three weeks after the accident the rider contacts the adjuster as the Goldwing is the riders primary transportation. The adjuster was working on the project and would call back. Two weeks later. It took seven weeks (plus) for the rider to clear the hurdles the insurance adjuster placed before him, and then the rider was given a choice. Settle for eighty percent of the wholesale book price of the bike, eighty percent of his specific accessories insurance rider, or consider legal action through the Florida Insurance Commission. Of course, any legal action would take even longer, and the possible gains would be eaten up with legal fee’s. The rider signed on the dotted line figuring he could chalk the whole thing up to experience.
The first mistake the rider did was not preparing his body for the task of riding. A human body requires fuel to operate, and after a full day of working hard without eating the rider was at a sugar low. This left the opportunity of exhaustion to effect his judgment as he rode. This lack of judgement is probably a large part of why he decided not to wear proper protective gear (denim jacket). Driver fatigue may have also been a contributing factor to why he chose to ride in the left lane. Driving through the same section of street it is obvious to anyone that a large construction zone is present directly before the scene of the accident. Large dump-trucks drive that particular lane to the turn around point dumping debris into the lane the whole way. The rider missed that vital clue in the fog of fatigue. The mistakes of the crash, and riding home are linked. Trusting the rider to drive home safely was probably the Deputies fault, though nothing happened. The motorcycle should not have been ridden anywhere without a complete check out, and a check would have shown the obvious damage.
To expect a rider to act appropriately after an accident is difficult. The mind is rushed by adrenaline, fear clutches the gut, pain is vying for attention, the ego is crushed, embarrassment is fluid, and the rider is expected to answer questions. Other drivers demand attention if involved, law enforcement need information for reports, and the ambulance crew wants to know who will pay. Time is rushed. A suggestion for riders is to write down all emergency information, vehicle ID#s, address’s, and other information, and on the back of that same piece of paper right down directions on how your insurance agency wants accidents handled. Some insurance agencies have such documents either printed for motorists, or blank copies available. The rider’s insurance company provided such a document in the form of their insurance card itself.
What happened to the rider? He went shopping for a new Goldwing with the few thousand dollars he had after paying his bank off for the old bike. On his first attempt at financing a new Goldwing he called up the dealer made his order, and awaited the results. The dealer called him back the next day and informed him his financing was turned down by Honda. The reason it seems is students don’t have so great of credit.