Look Out!

I already know that I’m walking on thin ice with today’s pet peeve.  But please hear me out before you get angry.  One thing that irritates me on the road is when I see a motorcyclist with a “Look Out For Motorcycles” sticker…  Wait!  Let me finish!… and that same motorcycle is weaving in and out of traffic!

Unlike when I lived in New York and motorcyclists only cycled a few months out of the year, down here in Florida, there’s never a time that motorcycles are not prevalent.  And at least four times a week, if not more often, I witness motorcycles speeding, whipping around cars, passing two lanes by driving on the yellow line, riding on the shoulder when traffic is otherwise stalled, or commencing in any number of other unsafe activities.

Believe me, I’m all about safe driving.  I’ve shared with you before, when I was a paralegal, it was my job to catalog and file the most gory accident photos, so I’m quite familiar with how horrific carelessness can be.  Additionally, I’ve personally known people who have died on motorcycles.  However motorcycle drivers need to use caution as well.  Some people might even go as far as to say that the cyclist chose to ride a dangerous vehicle, so they knew the potential for risks when they signed on.  I’m not even saying that.  But I feel like the inordinate amount of stickers that warn auto drivers to look out for them is supposed to let the cyclist off the hook if there’s an accident.

Once when I was seventeen, I was driving somewhere, roughly 30 miles away.  I had to take the interstate to get there.  My car at the time was a Dodge Charger, and it had locks that were in the middle of each door and twisted rather than the kind that stuck up out of the door and you pushed down.  You also could not lock the passenger door by simply pushing a button on the driver’s door.

I was driving roughly 60 MPH along the interstate, minding my own business, when I happened to look in the rear view mirror and saw a motorcycle weaving in and out of cars behind me.  The driver (who I would guess was near 30) was beating on car windows as he passed people, and laughing wildly.  Something in me told me to lock my doors NOW!  I had a difficult time reaching over and locking the passenger door and rolling the window up (manually) as I drove, but no more than two seconds after I got the door locked and the window up, the motorcyclist sped up to my car.  He looked in and started beating on the passenger’s window.  I screamed which caused him to laugh wildly.

He stayed with me like glue for over five minutes, beating on my window and yelling and laughing at me.  I was terrified!  A couple of times he tried yanking on the door handle to get it open.  Thank God I locked it!  I tried slowing way down, but he just slowed with me, literally hanging on to the side of my car and laughing the entire time.  I tried speeding way up to the point I felt as if I would soon lose control of the car.  I looked in the rear view, and the cars behind me had all slowed way down (I’m sure to stay away from this dangerous jerk!) and were nowhere near me any longer.  Of course this was the late 80s (a/k/a/ the old days before cell phones), so there was no way I could summon help.  I was crying and screaming hysterically the entire time, and I think that just made the dude more intent on terrorizing me further.

At one point, we went over an overpass, and I actually considered swerving and forcing him over the side, which could have killed him, and frankly could have injured me as well.  I’ve been in other dangerous situations both before and after this incident, but there has never been another time when I actually seriously considered taking another human life.  But despite being so scared, I at least had enough sense to realize something:  I knew if I did that, I’d have to stop and wait for the police, and that if by chance he wasn’t dead but only injured, he would likely kill me with his bare hands while I waited.

So as I screamed and tried to maintain control of my car, it was a full six minutes before he got tired of me and rode up to the car in front of me and bullied them.  My whole body shook as I tried to calm myself down enough to get to where I was going because there was no way I was going to pull over long enough to regain my composure.  So I maintained a steady speed and tried to suck back all my tears, and I witnessed the maniacal motorcyclist reach in the window of yet another car and pull out a woman’s purse and hold it triumphantly over his head before he sped off yet again.

Ever since that day, I never got into my car without first locking the doors, and of course, nowadays cars automatically lock when you reach 10 MPH. (And speaking of that, maybe someday I’ll tell you about one or both of the times someone has forced their way into my vehicle, which were also terrifying.)  But at any rate, yeah, every time I see a “Look Out For Motorcycles” sign or sticker, and/or I see cyclists weaving in and out of traffic, I relive that horrendous experience in my head, and it makes me angry with the irresponsible motorcycle drivers who act like they’re impervious to the law as well as the rules of the road and proper driving etiquette.

So to be clear, I have absolutely no problem with motorcycles and cyclists… who obey the same traffic laws that I do.  And, yes, I will look out for them.  But they also need to look out for themselves.

Talk to me:  Do you ride a motorcycle?  If so, do you obey traffic laws when you ride?  Have you ever witnessed a motorcyclist doing anything like what I described above as far as messing with cars?  What would you have done if you were me?

40 thoughts on “Look Out!

  1. Now most motorcylists obey the rules because they know they are riding a vehicle that’s more dangerous than a car. But the lane weavers, yes, Rachel, so irritating. They are putting you, me, everybody as well as themselves in peril.

    As for the lunatic … I don’t know what you could have done except for pulling off an exit and into a crowded gas station or something. What a terrible time! I’m glad you were smart enough to roll up your window and lock the door while driving! Where’s a motorcycle patrolman when needed?

  2. Well, I once trapped an assailant’s fingers on the wind up car window and threatened to start driving to the nearest police station. This one…this one I’d a banjoed but then I can box, I wouldn’t do it otherwise.

  3. I see and feel your pain Rachel, since moving to Florida I have seen everything from bikers as you have written and more however, as a hole for each ‘Crazy Florida Biker’ I have in counted 10 crazy vehicle drivers, bottom line, Florida drivers are CRAZY.

  4. I’ve had seven scoots over the years, but I sold out over cell phones. I had so many people pull out in front of me while talking on a cell phone that I could see it was just a matter of time. My favorite sticker: “Stupid kills, but not enough to really help.”

  5. Shouldn’t lock your doors – say you had an accident and were unconscious? How would the emergency services get in with haste? Best carry a baseball bat in my considered view Rachel.

      • That’s probably true – although talking with a chap from the fire brigade once he told me that electric windows (albeit every car has them these days) are their nightmare in urgent situations.

      • Oh – should have said. A vehicle on fire, electrics fail; car locked from the inside; passenger/drive cannot get out if windows are up and brigade on its way. Wind down windows afford an exit.

      • Oh, that makes sense. Now that you’ve prove you are so familiar, I think a Carruthers episode with his Rolly is in order. 🙂 (Not that you mentioned taking special requests.)

      • Rachel – I do have a rather unusual – yet necessary – Carruthers coming up this week as the final ‘link’ post to one which I hope drags all the marital issues into one pot leaving Carruthers and Chum to get back to serious work at the Foreign Office.

      • Oh! I can’t wait! I just scheduled your interview and emailed you the particulars. I was rolling as I read it. And then I felt a little sad because I’ve been missing Carruthers. I can’t wait to see what happens. 😀

  6. I would have leaned on my horn! If I remember correctly, they were quite loud back then! What a scary situation Rachel! Did you report him to the police?

    I agree, they should also obey the rules of the road. Have you seen that vid of cyclists in Calgary weaving in and out of traffic. They meant to promote cycling but actually broke quite a few laws…

    here it is: http://globalnews.ca/news/1419108/crowbomb-stunt-alarms-drivers-on-crowchild-trail/

    Diana xo

  7. I am so so sorry for your horrible experience. No one should have to deal with that kind of terroristic behavior. It frustrates me. I used to ride dirt bikes. They weren’t big engines. And I preferred to not ride on roads whenever possible because while my then husband and I were very law abiding, we had seen first hand the many people who would ride on our back tires (ok nearly)- where there was no way they would avoid us if traffic had a sudden stop or slow down. Also those who chose to cut in front of us to make the turn- right in front of us- which is how many a cyclist (and bicyclist) end up through the side windows in to the front driver or passenger’s lap. It’s a terrifying experience to have someone do that while trying not to hit them or anyone else trying to miss them.
    I do know a lot of motorcyclists ruin the image for many because they act like jerks with no regard to the law or to other people. Drives me crazy. No one has the right to be so careless on the road. Neither of us ride any longer- my sense of balance being shot makes me an unsafe passenger at this point and my poor vision would undoubtedly make me- and others a target.

    • Yeah, I don’t really blame ALL motorcyclists, but I just hate when some of them refuse to follow other traffic laws. I think my experience was extra frightening because of traveling at such a high speed. I had the fear of the man as well as the fear of crashing to think about. 🙂

  8. Motorcycle riders make me nervous at the best of times. Every time I see one of those bumper stickers to watch out for motorcycles, I want to put stickers on motorcycles that say “Watch out for cars.” They do some of the most stupid stunts on their bikes and appear to be unaware of how hard it is to stop a car at 45 mph while they weave in and out of traffic. So count me in with you.

  9. Motorcyclists scare me to death! They don’t just weave in and out of traffic, but do so at breakneck speeds! Most of the time I honestly don’t see them until they’ve already whizzed past me, and each time I think, “What if I had decided to change lanes a split second earlier?” I hate the way they put all of us at risk just to save a minute or two…

    • I know exactly how you feel! I don’t even think it’s to save a minute or two. I sometimes get the feeling they do that just to show off and say, “Ha ha, I don’t have to wait as long as you do for that line of traffic!” LOL! 🙂

  10. Holy cow, terrifying! Stories like that are why I lock my doors every time I get in the car. I’m so glad you managed to get your door locked and window rolled up before he caught up to you!

  11. I can hardly believe some of the stuff which happens to you Rachel! Scary, but great fuel for for future writing… very well told!

  12. Wow! That sounds terrifying. I hope the motorcyclist got reported and arrested.
    I drive a Volvo station wagon which is about the same age as I am, well, a little newer–my parents got it shortly after I was born, and there is a switch which locks all the doors at once, and it’s really easy to reach–It’s actually right next to the turn signal, or rather, right behind it. I’ve only used it a couple of times, and normally either when someone was loitering around a place I was driving for no good reason that I could see or when a crazy driver was riding my bumper. Though there was also that one time when I ticked off another driver just by trying to follow the driving laws, and I freaked out within myself, so I skipped my turn deliberately and just drove aimlessly through our neighborhoods until the other driver got bored and wandered off. Home turf advantage. 😉 I kindofsortofhoped that they had gotten lost and Siri or whatever the app is betrayed them and they had to call their mom for directions and she told them off for heckling a kid on the road.
    It does sound counter-intuitive for there to be “watch for motorcyclists!” bumper stickers when the motorcyclist in question is weaving in and out of traffic, which is very distracting for me as a driver, thus making me a danger not only to the motorcyclist but also to all the other drivers around me, some of whom just might have their kids in the back seat… I’d never forgive myself if I even accidentally was the cause of a child’s injuries or death.

    • LOL! You had a good plan. Yeah, I know what you mean about not wanting to cause an accident… I had a friend who hit a child who ran out in front of her. The child died and my friend was not charged, but it haunted her forever.

      • 🙂 Thankfully, there has only been that one incident. Otherwise, though, I have had a couple of times when I just felt as if everyone else pressing in on me when I was driving to college. (This is unrelated to driving–the other day we were out looking at a couple of evergreen creepers for one class I’m taking, and I picked a strand with a couple of bright-red berries on the end and asked if this was the fruit of the particular vine–which was a sort of vine sort-of-related to honeysuckle, of all things 😛 Anyway, another student said it was a snack, and the professor explained that, no, this is probably the fruit of a nightshade and most likely poisonous. Then the student jokingly told me to eat it, and it took me a while to realize, oh, he’s teasing! and laugh. It was just odd that it took me that long to catch on, really.)
        That’s so sad. 😦

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