The Ghost Bike

“Where are we going, today?”  asked the students as they loaded into our Driver Ed car.   I suppressed a smile as their eyes grew wide in disbelief at hearing my response.   Our journey, that beautiful autumn day, would include a visit to a Ghost Bike.  As expected, the term had captured their imagination, and aroused their curiosity.

imageWith the first of four drivers behind the wheel, we journeyed on, as I queried them about the various warning signs along the way.  We were passing through an historical area and an area where there were bike trails and many signs indicating shared roadways and bicycle crossings.  We took note of the speed limits and discussed the curvaceous conditions of the roads and lack of shoulders.  When they remarked that the posted limit seemed too fast, we discussed the meaning of the term prudent and the Basic Speed Law.  image

Just about the time when they asked “why would anyone ride a bike here when there is not much space,” we came upon a few bicyclists.  They soon realized their only option was to stay back and patiently share the road.  We had arrived just in time to switch drivers, and we pulled into a driveway at the edge of an apple orchard.  We all exited the car, and it was then they noticed the Ghost Bike.  Not quite the adventure they had imagined.

The Ghost Bike marks the time and place where lives were forever altered.
The Ghost Bike marks the time and place where lives were forever altered. “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”

In that sobering moment, as I explained the history of the Ghost Bike, they could see the consequences of irresponsible driving and how it changed eternity for at least two families and their friends.  The return journey was quiet and thoughtful, and careful; and hopefully they will return safely as Responsible Drivers from all of their future journeys.

Enjoy your journey.  And please remember to share the road.  Blessings to you!


The BS – It’s Real!

blind spot images“Why do I have to look back??”  It’s a question frequently asked by a terrified new driver.

(Wish drivers would be that scared about looking down while texting)

When first learning the skill of lane changing, a novice usually grips the wheel tightly and automatically turns it in the direction they look.  Some push the steering wheel in the opposite direction. Either move inadvertently sends the vehicle toward an adjacent lane the moment they turn their head, before they have really assessed if it is safe to move.  Moving without looking puts others who share the road with you at risk.

It’s a scary thing to look back over your shoulder while your car is moving forward, especially when you are new at handling all that power in a 3,200 pound vehicle.  With practice, it can be done safely.

“Then why did they put those mirrors on the vehicle?” is the frustrated question that often follows the terrified “why do I have to turn my head?”

I answer with a simple demonstration.  When the car is parked, I stand in view of their rear-view mirrors. Then I move to the Blind Spot on the left and right sides of the vehicle at a distance where an adjacent lane would be.  It’s a revelation for them when they see me “disappear” from their mirrors.   When they have to turn their head to find me, they know where their Blind Spot is.  

Understanding that the Blind Spot is very real helps a driver to Recognize the Risk.  Knowing how to Reduce the Risk of a crash, in this case by checking before moving, is what builds competent, responsible drivers.  Recognizing and Reducing risk is what a Responsible Driver does.

As to why they put those three mirrors on the vehicle?  Their name supplies the answer.  They are called rearview mirrors, and they are designed for the driver to be aware of what is behind them while they are moving down the roadway.  But when you are backing, the rearview mirror does not reflect all of the risk behind you; so while reversing, a Responsible Driver must check over both shoulders, then turn around and look out the rear window while backing.

As we journey through life, we will discover that we each have our own blind spots…Risk we don’t recognize until someone who cares about you points it out.  It may be you are the type who must discover your own blind spot the hard way.  Understanding our blind spot can help us reduce the risk we might pose to others who are sharing the journey with us.