Ed Cavender, beloved member of the Knights For Christ of Columbia (local chapter of Christian Motorcyclists Association), died in a horrific motorcycle/car accident last Friday at the intersection of Park Plus Drive and James Campbell Blvd. Ed was traveling down James Campbell when a lady in a car suddenly crossed that street in front of him. We could see the skid mark where Ed tried to stop, but his injuries were so extensive that he died quickly.
Ed was at almost every CMA event that we had, and visited other chapters across our state frequently, helping out in charity missions. He always had that huge smile on his face. He leaves behind a grieving wife, daughter, and two grandchildren.
Part of the problem is that people can “look right through” approaching motorcycles and never see them — especially if the bike’s single headlight matches up with the car behind, making it appear the bike is part of the car. Psychologists have studied the common observation “I just didn’t see it coming” and have concluded that our human brains in this society have been conditioned to look for large objects approaching, such as cars and trucks.
The “Look Twice Save a Life” with a picture of a motorcycle has become popular with decals, bumper stickers, Facebook memes, and even TDOT electronic signs on the highway, but I really am not certain how much of an impact they are having. In an article of April 2016 entitled “Motorcycle Accident Deaths: Why Fatalities Are Up 25% in Tennessee,” Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Travis Plotzer gave his opinion as to the major cause: distracted drivers (texting, fiddling with dashboard, etc). Another major factor was DUI’s (substance abuse).
There are a few things bikers can do to improve their odds. Assume that you are invisible to everyone else out there. Develop that “far vision” riding attitude where you are looking for vehicles to pull out in front of you. Focus on their front wheel — you will notice that wheel starting to rotate more quickly than the whole car moving a few inches.
Get driving headlights so that you have 3 headlights instead of one. Wearing bright fluorescent colors also helps. I know it’s not considered “cool” among us older folks on cruisers — we grew up with the all black leather, black helmet, dark motorcycle “The Fonze” style being popular — the “bad boy” look. We’re not like those 20 year olds on their fluorescent green sport bikes with matching riding gear. But the truth is that dark colors tend to “blend in” while fluorescent colors get you noticed.
Stephen Rowland is chaplain for the Knights For Christ chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association.