Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Age, speed, and stupidity

On Saturday of Memorial day weekend we had the pleasure of enjoying the entire day on our bikes. (motorcycles that is) and were traveling north on Wisconsin 35 along the river. We had pulled off the road for a bit, and as we were getting back on we had to stop to let a fire truck with lights and sirens fly past us. We weren't behind it very long, because it was headed to this accident:

Man dies in motorcycle crash

PRESCOTT - A 19-year-old Prescott man was killed in a single motorcycle crash Saturday evening.

Anthony P. Freiheit died after his motorcycle struck a guardrail at 6:11 p.m. in the Pierce County town of Diamond Bluff, according to the State Patrol.

The crash occurred after a Pierce County Sheriff's Department deputy attempted to stop Freiheit, who was traveling south on Highway 35, for speeding. The motorcyclist increased his speed and lost control of the vehicle, which crossed the centerline and struck a guardrail.

Freiheit, who was wearing a helmet, died at the scene, south of 1005th St.

The crash remains under investigation by the Wisconsin State Patrol.

I wish there were some type of rule for sport bikers. Well, motorcycles in general! First of all, there is no reason a bike with that much speed needs to be on the road. They're designed for RACING, not general riding. Now, I used to ride on the back of a sport bike, and I loved the feel of it. I was also behind a very responsible driver. I had no reason to feel fear. But there are too many KIDS, who don't even have enough driving experience in a CAR, much less a motorcycle, to have that much power underneath them!

I personally think the motorcycle safety class should be required for all motorcycle drivers. You learn things you will NOT learn by teaching yourself. Right now, in MN, there are two ways to get your license: Take the course, and the test is given at the end of the course, or just go take the test on your own. The failure rate of those taking the test without the class is very high! Why? Because there are skills they haven't learned yet, that are BASIC to motorcycle riding! 

How often have you seen this: You're sitting at a light, and along side you pulls a sport bike (aka crotch rocket) with a young man driving. He might be wearing a helmet. Good for him! But, he's also either shirtless or wearing a tank top and shorts, and tennis shoes. Behind him, clinging to him for dear life, is a hot young chick wearing a bikini top, daisy duke shorts, and flip flops. BUT...she has a helmet on. (maybe) What they don't realize is that helmet is going to do NOTHING for them, because WHEN they go down (and every motorcyclist knows it's not a matter of "if", it's a matter of "when") they are not going to have ANY skin left, because it's all going to be left on the pavement. Their legs will be badly burned by the engine parts, usually damaging deep tissue. (I know, I had a motorcycle burn as a 15 year old kid!) So the light turns green, and this young couple FLIES down the road ahead of you, often making abrupt lane changes, never looking over his shoulder because...well...what's what mirrors are for, right?

I see this scene time and again on the road, and it makes me shudder every time. 

So, the accident we came upon on Saturday was all about speed, and probably alcohol. I mean, that kid had no reason to try outrunning the police unless he had a chemical of some sort in his system, or perhaps had a suspended license already. Put youth and stupidity on the seat of a hunk of metal capable of traveling at high speed and it's a death waiting to happen. 


Shelbey said...

I know this was posted over two years ago, but I just saw it when I did a google search on the young man killed in the accident. He is my brother and I want you to know I took extreme offensive to your harsh words. It's one thing to objectively talk about the dangers of motorcycle riding, but you have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to the story of my brother. The newspaper had the facts wrong and he was NOT fleeing the police. He was also not under any sort of influence and did have a valid license. You have no right to make assumptions or say something completely and udderly ridiculous about someone you don't even know. I wish it could have been you in his place that day; he did nothing wrong and you obviously don't care enough about other people to deserve to be here. I hope you rot in hell.

Leah S. said...

Shelbey, I'm really sorry you lost your brother. Obviously you're still hurting, and will hurt for a very long time. A part of you will never stop hurting.

When people come across an accident, they speculate. When they read an article in the paper, they speculate, wondering as they try to fill in the blanks in their mind. I specifically looked up the article because as I sat on my bike that day, I said a prayer for the rider belonging to the bike, and I wondered who I had prayed for. My blog is where I speculate out loud. It's kind of like allowing you into my living room. I understand you're angry, and that my words made you angry because you feel I was wrong in speculating about the situation surrounding the crash we had come upon. I based my speculation on the scene I saw, statistics and life experience....a lot of life experience....I'm sorry if you were hurt by that.

Statistics don't lie. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people age 15-20. Young drivers are still learning to control their vehicle. Now put those same inexperienced young people on two wheels with a lot of power and momentum and everything is different. The rules of momentum haven't changed but what you DO with that momentum have. Everything is different.

I picture any one of my boys on a bike and I cringe. Only one of my boys has the maturity needed to handle the power that comes when you sit on a bike, but even he would eventually get carried away. ALL of my boys are older than your brother was on the day of his death. Your brother only had three years of driving alone, and on that day had a lot of power under him. Throw in some testosterone (and lets face it, young men do get a bit cocky from time to time. I know, I'm mom to five boys!) A 2007 study done in Pennsylvania found that 55% of motorcycle fatalities occurred in riders who fell in the 21-29 age group. Those were just the fatalities, it doesn't say anything about those who walked away with spinal cord injuries, head trauma, or just a few broken bones. It doesn't say anything about other people who were killed as a result of their actions. I've personally watched a young, inexperienced rider over-shoot a corner, cross the center median, causing an oncoming car to swerve, hit a telephone pole and kill the driver of the car. Go to any bike shop and see all the sport bikes with body damage waiting to get worked on, then strike up a conversation with the body guy. He'll tell you most of those bikes went down within one month of purchase OR were owned by young riders/inexperienced riders. ( "inexperienced" riders are not necessarily young, but "young riders are always inexperienced riders")

The stretch of highway where your brother crashed is pretty classic for a speed related accident involving an inexperienced rider. Add in the factor of heavy traffic since it was a big ride day and it is a recipe for disaster. And yes, even if your brother had been riding for 3 years, that's considered "inexperienced" in the world of riding. In our region that's really only about 15-18 months of actual ride time. Not a lot of time to hone your skills under a wide variety of conditions.

Sadly, none of us will ever know why your brother didn't stop for the police that day, or why he was going so fast ....well least fast enough that he lost control of his bike. (it's pretty easy to calculate speed by measuring the weight of the bike, weight of your brother relative to the skid distance, etc giving you the velocity at which the bike was traveling) It is a question you'll never have answered. I'm sure you and the rest of your family have lots of questions about that day. Again, I'm sorry for the loss your family has suffered.