ABATE of Illinois Motorcycle Rights feature written for Countyline Publications and printed in Wisconsin and Illinois Biker Information Guide, 3rd quarter 2011 Judy “Chooch” Kanel, President, DuKane Capter of A.B.A.T.E. of Illinois Inc. There is a great advertisement out there with a teenage girl driving her car while on her cell phone, smoking a cigarette and painting her nails stating Don’t Drive Distracted!  The poster is amusing but terribly sad all the same.  Bikers face the challenge of driving with distracted drivers all the time.  Our Brothers and Sisters are killed or seriously injured every day in this country.  20% of all injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving and of those killed in these types of accidents, 995 involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction.  The largest group of distracted drivers in this country are younger than 24!  There are three main types of distraction; Visual – taking your eyes off the road, Manual-taking your hands off the wheel and Cognitive-taking your mind off what you are doing.  Of all of these types of distractions Manual Distraction is the biggest culprit.  Texting and talking on the cell phone results in more accidents and can impair your driving reaction time as if you are intoxicated. Wow! What are we to do to protect ourselves out there on the road?  It is impossible enough to hope that other drivers see us; we have to MAKE other drivers see us!  I have a friend that when approaching an intersection, if he does not see that driver’s face turned towards his direction, he beeps his horn, revs his engine, anything to let that driver know he is in the area.  Of course, my buddy flipping the driver off for not looking seems to shock the driver into knowing he is there but, although amusing may not be the best tactic. ABATE throughout the United States is focused on the safety aspects of our mission especially with the issue of distracted drivers.  Every year local chapters visit school’s driver education programs and senior centers and teach the students or seniors about motorcycles in their area.  The most important lessons we teach them is how to see us and how to avoid us!  By talking the hard facts about cell phone and texting usage, along with graphic images of the results of their distracted driving, goes a long way in getting the point across.  These Safety and Education Coordinators work tirelessly with schools and senior citizen centers to reach out and educate the driver.  We hand out flyers, pamphlets, key fobs and now neat little thumb rings that state “Texting Kills” all in the effort to get the message across that We Are Out There!  Watch Out For Us! On the other hand we can talk until we are blue in the face about distracted driving.  But the best defense is to get involved!  Call your local DOT and get “Start Seeing Motorcycles” yard signs and posters, spend some cash and make your own signs, or get involved with your local ABATE chapter and help out the Safety and Education coordinators and get into the schools to teach.  Everything you can do will get the message out!  I do not want to bury another friend because someone just didn’t see him.
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