A Risky Ride

Reported by: Britney Glaser

It happens too often: a motorist is driving, then seemingly out of nowhere, a motorcycle appears and there's a collision.

It's happened twice in recent weeks and both riders died.  The shocking impact in the Ryan Street collision put a pick-up truck on its roof and this problem is not going away.  There are 5 million registered motorcycles in the United States, more than ever before.  While the number of riders is on the rise, so are the motorcycle-related fatalities, now at 4,500 a year.  Despite the dramatic numbers, avid motorcyclists continue to pick this risky ride.

For brothers Brian and David Racca of Westlake, motorcycles are more than just a way to get around town.  Brian says, "You're in the open, you're in the environment...it has a feel about it that's hard to describe."  David adds, "When you're on the road, it's a great feeling, especially on a beautiful day, there's nothing quite like it."

While these two men have about 40 years total riding experience with motorcycles, they say when it comes to safety on the roads, they are never able to let their guards down.  "All it takes is a split second for someone to change lanes in front of you," says David, "put their brakes on in front of you, turn in front of you, any of that - instead of being in a fender-bender, you can spend time in the hospital or die over that."

Louisiana does not require any kind of special training for a person to get behind the handlebars of a motorcycle, but the Harley-Davidson Shop in Lake Charles does offer a five-day course that has already been linked to improving bikers' reactions to problems on the road.  Billy Doherty with the Harley-Davidson Shop says, "Several people that have been in some accidents recently have accredited their reactions to what happened actually saved them from potentially being in worse shape."

Even though there has been a recent string of bad accidents involving motorcycles, these motorcyclists say they are going to continue riding the same way they always have, with caution and on the defensive side of the handlebars.  "You have to drive like every single vehicle on the road is gonna try and hit you," says Brian, "if you drive like that, if you ride like that, you'll go a long way toward making yourself safe."  David says, "It's all about how you ride, it's an individual thing, if you're not conscious of what you're doing, you're gonna get hurt."

*There is a "Riders Edge" motorcycle safety course coming beginning Thursday, December 13th.  The cost is $295 and you can register by calling the Harley-Davidson Shop in Lake Charles at 436-0022.