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Opinion

Heimerman: It's that time to start seeing motorcycles

As I was driving from dropping my kids off at school on the way to the office this morning, I heard it: the unmistakable rumbling of motorcycles approaching.

We as humans tend to get lax fast, whether it be after we successfully crush a crucial deadline at work, or after the snowy season has perceivably passed.

For the record, I’m in no way saying that season has passed, and forgive me, universe, if I just jinxed the weather.

But with temperatures touching 60 and ample sunshine the past couple of days, motorcyclists and all sorts of joyriders will abound in the weeks to come.

Although the weather is supposed to be much more seasonable Thursday, with a high of 39 and snow even possible, days featuring highs in the 40s and 50s will become typical. And odds are, if someone’s taken their bike out of storage and gotten a taste of riding this season, they’re not putting it back, and they’ll look for every chance to get out there.

As I saw two sport bikes approach in my rear-view mirror, it served as a reminder: Hey, guy, check this thing more often – and while you’re at it, use those mirrors on the sides of the car, too.

After all, the color just returned to our knuckles, didn’t it? After squeezing the steering wheel and employing the focus of a hawk the past several weeks as we got all that snow, it would be easy to relax now.

I’m not a motorcycle rider. Probably never will be one. A bike likely won’t be my escape during my midlife crisis.

But I know a lot of them, and I’ve heard anecdotally that they’re sort of like wild animals: They’re more afraid of us than we are of them. Makes sense, given how vulnerable they are compared with us cagers – that’s what they call us, because we’re surrounded by all that metal and other materials that make up our cars.

The data bears it out, too. In 2012, motorcycles were involved in 1.5 percent of total crashes in Illinois, and they were involved in 16.7 percent of fatal crashes statewide, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation. That means you’re more than 10 times more likely to be killed in a crash if you’re riding a motorcycle, rather than driving a cage.

Let’s not restrict this PSA for us cagers, though. It probably goes without saying that many of those fatal crashes might not have been, had the motorcycle rider been wearing a helmet, and that some motorcycle riders like to take unwarranted risks.

Safe driving a two-way street, so I urge riders of all machinery to be alert, well-equipped, sober and considerate while driving as the weather warms.

• Christopher Heimerman is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2221, or email cheimerman@shawmedia.com.

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