Highway Heroes for Motorcyclists

As a motorcyclist, my safety preparedness usually focuses on my personal physical & mental state, my gear and my motorcycle — all safety skills honed through my training at TEAM Arizona. But there’s a key area of safety that is sometimes outside our control – road debris.

Traveling highways on a motorcycle presents its own set of hazards, most will agree.

Some hazards we motorcyclists create ourselves, some result from inattentive “cagers” (non-motorcyclists) and some result from uninvited – and particularly troublesome to motorcyclists – road debris. Road debris comes in all sizes from soda cans and bottles to tires to dead animals to sofas to ladders to tables to mattresses – I’ve seen them all.

Some time ago, while riding on the AZ 202 Loop heading east near Chandler, AZ, my wife and I, in our full-sized van, encountered a 20-or-so-foot-long ladder laying in the middle of the ramp to the AZ 101 North. There was no way to avoid it so – BAM – at 65+ miles per hour we ran over the ladder. Adrenaline, pure fear, anger and other things immediately began screeching throughout my body. The noise from the ladder impacting the tires and bottom of our van told us for sure there was nothing left to our vehicle’s underbelly. Fortunately for us, we sustained absolutely no damage – to the van that is. Our psyches on the other hand sustained incredible damage. We were scared and shaking all the way until we parked in the IKEA parking lot – and for a considerable time after we parked.

That resulted from impacting road debris while traveling in a full-sized, 4,000+ pound van.

Imagine hitting that kind of road debris on a 500-pound motorcycle!

While the superb training I received at TEAM Arizona on how to manage road debris provides a level of comfort, the ladder we hit in the van would have surely presented a significant challenge to my execution of that training. I hope I never have to test that training!

While traveling to work this morning around 4:00, I saw the warning signs posted on our AZ highway’s electronic notification boards: “Warning – Sweepers Ahead.”

As I traveled in the HOV lane — the top benefit of motorcycle riding on the highway — I saw the flashing lights of the street sweeper about 2 miles ahead – warning of their presence and urging me to change lanes. I quickly and appreciatively obliged.

As I passed the street sweepers moving along, while they scrutinized the highway for uninvited debris, I remembered trouncing the ladder in the van and I renewed my appreciation for how our highway street sweepers keep the highways safe.

As a motorcyclist and routine highway traveler, I would like to tell you that these street sweepers are my “Highway Heroes.” Their diligence in keeping the highways free of debris is a direct relationship to my ability to safely commute 90+ miles a day with a significantly reduced opportunity to encounter vicious road debris on my motorcycle.

To the Road “Street” Warriors out there – thank you!

You are my Highway Heroes!