Motorcycle Mayhem

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One morning in September, I rode my motorcycle to a doctor's appointment. I've been riding for 28 years, have taken all the safety classes, and for years have been commuting on a Suzuki V-strom 600 down the Peninsula to work. This day I was going north. It was mid-morning and traffic was light.

I saw her enter the freeway but since I was a few lanes over, figured I was ok. She was elderly and could barely see over the steering wheel. Out of the blue, she rapidly crossed three lanes, right into my own. I was going the speed limit, she was going about 40.  

With no way to evade her, I grabbed the brakes as hard as I could and came within a quarter inch of her back fender before the bike went down  As I hit the pavement, I saw my bike on its side chasing her car.   
I rolled for 50 yards down 280 and had 17 helmet contacts to the pavement. I also had a talk with God about the predicament I was in. This conversation is another story. When I finally stopped, my gear was shredded to my skin, and my knee shredded to the bone. I thought that it would really suck to get hit by a vehicle coming around the gentle corner after surviving that so I waved my arms frantically and found that I had stopped six lanes of traffic. I wobbled to the guardrail, and waited for care.

I spent the next 10 hours at the Trauma Unit at San Francisco General. They said the last guy this happened to was dead by the time they unloaded him. I was monitored for seizures, had two sprained wrists and a wrecked knee that required several operations.

Yes, I was lucky, but this did not have to happen. My message to you listeners: talk to everyone who drives, but especially the elder people you know. Ask them how they treat motorcycles on the road when they're driving. Be worried if it is not a solid answer. This woman never stopped. I fear she could do it again. Give them some wisdom about respect for motorcyclists. You may save a life.


With a Perpsective, I'm Karen Smith.

Karen Smith commutes on her motorcycle to her job at Foothill College.