With its unique landscapes, wide-open spaces, and sprawling highway system, Texas is an inviting place for motorcyclists to ride. Something about the state’s ideal of “rugged individualism” just seems to fit with the biking lifestyle.
However, though the summer months, as more people ride their motorcycles, safety concerns that arise when they have to share the roads with cars and trucks of all shapes and sizes.
So far this year, Hunt County has seen 10 motorcycle accidents, and since 2010, there have been 284 in the county. Meanwhile, for the state as a whole, between 400 and 500 motorcyclists die in crashes each year.
As far as being on road, anything that’s dangerous for a car is 10 times more dangerous for a motorcycle,” said Ricky Gentry, president of Christian motorcycle group King’s Kruizers.
“Road gators, which separated tires from big rigs that cars hit and throw up are a big concern,” Gentry gave as an example. “A group of men from South America were headed back through Texas, when one of them was hit in the chest with part of a tire and it knocked him off the back of his motorcycle and killed him.”
Just as with debris from shredded tires, conditions as seemingly harmless as freshly cut grass can also be a hazard for motorcyclists, if it’s spread out on the road.
“When people mow their yards and throw grass out onto roadway, we lose traction,” Gentry explained. “Now, in medians, crews typically use shredders, which aim the cut grass back or down, but not to the side like a regular riding or push lawn mower, so on farm roads and back roads, we have to be more careful.”
Many riders also cite distracted driving as a major hazard.
“A lot of people just aren’t paying attention,” said Brain “Postmaster” Liberty, who services as deputy state captain on the North Texas Patriot Guard Riders. “They’re texting, they’re not using their mirrors, they’re distracted by their cellphones or ear buds, or whatever … lots of problems.”
Gentry echoed much of Liberty’s concern about distracted driving.
“One time, a car came into my lane, forcing me into another rider, and I had to kick her door to get her attention, and she dropped her phone,” Gentry related. “We always say ‘think twice, save a life.’”
Of course, some of the responsibility for riding safety falls on the motorcyclists themselves.
“On a motorcycle, maintenance … things like tire pressure and having good tread are important,” Gentry explained. “Clothing is also very important. We often say, ‘dress for the slide, not the ride,’ in case you’re in an accident.”
Sliding across the pavement is something that Gentry, unfortunately, experienced first hand 12 years ago.
“I went down, myself, in 2007, in Hugo, Okla,” Gentry said. “There was some road construction, where a truck had been leaking oil. I didn’t see it, so I hit it and slid 90 feet down the road.
“The motorcycle was totaled out, but I lived,” Gentry said gratefully. “It’s just like riding a horse … most bikers will go back to riding after an accident.”