Saturday, May 3, 2014
Overstating The Obvious
I was reading a press release from the Washington State Patrol about how motorcycle fatalities take an abrupt rise at the beginning of every riding season. That actually struck me for a couple of reasons. Here in Washington State, the number of people who actually ride year around is significantly lower than during 'riding season' (call it late March thru late September). So, for arguments sake, let's say that maybe twenty percent of motorcycle riders ride year around. There aren't that many riders out on the roadways to get into fatal accidents. So yes, just by the fact that 80% more people are on the road enjoying their bikes, it only makes sense that the number of fatal accidents are going to increase. Still, in Washington state there were 82 motorcycle fatalities during 2012. In a state of almost 7,000,000 people that is a pretty low number.
There are approximately 200,000 motorcycles registered in Washington state. Even if only half of those motorcycles were ridden every year, 82 is still an incredibly small number of people dying. A tragedy for each of the families and friends involved to be sure. But in the broader picture, not a very large percentage.
The saddest thing about the number being even that low, is that roughly 50% of fatal accidents are single vehicle accidents. The rider losing control and crashing,
or striking an object. Alcohol plays a major factor in some 40% of these accidents. Inexperienced, and unlicensed riders are also key factors in the death rates. When you first start driving a car do you go out and drive a high perfomance race car? No, but I am amazed at how many new bike riders go out and buy high performance 'race replica' bikes that have a thrust to weight ratio approaching that of a jet plane.
That is why, it strikes me as strange that the WSP would even issue a press release about the sharp increase in motorcycle fatalities during 'riding season'. Until I actually did the research myself and found out the actual numbers, I had supposed them to be a great deal higher...by a factor of ten at least. But the fact that the WSP press release doesn't give the actual numbers of fatalities, only reinforces the concern over the increase in the death rate, makes me wonder what their real agenda is. With 80% more people riding, it is only common sense that more fatal accidents would occur.
With the WSP making their little announcement every year, they are putting the bullseye on motorcyclists. We are their distraction. Warning motorists to watch out for us is a good thing, and I have no doubt it may prevent a few accidents. But when the WSP announces to the news media that the head of their agancy isn't going to issue any special orders regarding the abrupt increase in the rate of motorcycle fatalities, what is the point? They issue a press release to say they aren't going to issue any specific orders to the Troopers about enforcement of traffic laws involving motorcycles because the Troopers are already personally 'aware' of the steep increase in the fatality rate.
All that does is put the words "sharp increase in motorcycle fatalities" in the media. That is simple disinformation, by overstating the obvious, to confuse the ignorant. The WSP didn't make any similar statement regarding the increase in fatal automobile accidents during the same months of the year. But automobiles, and their drivers aren't depicted as dangerous in the media either. Yet there were 356 non-motorcycle collision fatalities in Washington state in 2012. Including 87 "Non-Motorists" (pedestrians). That is a higher fatality figure than motorcyclists. But the WSP doesn't issue a press release saying they aren't going to issue special orders to Troopers about the pedestrian fatality rate.
They do it for motorcyclists as a way of isolating us in the publics eye. Keeping the conceptual link between 'death' and motorcycles in the backs of the non-riding publics mind. Motorcycles are dangerous and their riders need to be protected from their own reckless tendencies. But what more can you really expect from a bunch of "bikers" anyway. In my mind it is simply an backhanded way of keeping us separate from the rest of society, in the minds of society.
I just find it amusing that the powers that be have to stoop to such measures to gain some form of control. But that is what government is becoming, a machine for controlling the masses. Using age old techniques, and subtle new age ones, to shape and control the publics perceptions and opimions. While creating and keeping the perceptions that control is needed. Think about it. Why else would they play on the prejudices against bikers, with such overstated obvious factoids to make us look bad without doing anything?
Catch you on the road sometime...