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Drinking and driving don't mix

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This summer I have had the chance to go on a few motorcycle runs. These events are organized for the pleasure of riding with a group of bikers and usually have a charitable purpose; whether it is to support a medical or social cause and to serve our communities. We have a rallying point of departure, we have a leader riding up front and we follow in a staggered pattern for safety purposes.

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  In the group we have different levels of riding expertise. Some are seasoned riders, others are occasional ones and some are pretty new at this skill. We travel for some distance, and stop to take breaks, to socialize and talk shop. All of this sounds pretty straight-forward. Unfortunately there is a downside to this kind of activity -- alcohol consumption.

When we start the trip, the speed limit is respected and people are cautious and alert of possible dangers. In this kind of formation, riders are pretty close to each other and they have to pay attention to what is in front and behind them. Then we pull up into the parking lot, and it is usually where a bar is located. People go in and have a drink. Unfortunately, some have more. We wait for 45 minutes or more and then we mount our bikes. The pace changes, the speed increases up front, which forces those in the back to accelerate to catch up.

  The risks increase, the bikers' reflexes change and it is usually those who have just a few drinks that face the most dangers. Of course, you can argue that they are adults and can do whatever they want. But in this case, they are responsible for the safety of the group as a whole. Those of us who do not drink can see the difference in their riding skills as the trip progresses.

  The biking communities want other drivers to respect them on the road. They complain that cars do not see them and leave them enough space. Fine and dandy, but if they claim safety for bikers, then it is their responsibility to act maturely and wisely, which means not to allow drinking in any shape or form. Why do these events have to be centered around alcohol anyway? Why not stop at a Dairy Queen or a park and enjoy some relaxation in between rides?

  We owe to our communities and to the causes we support the respect they deserve. I have known riders who are quick to state that they live to ride -- then do so. Every day we hear that driving and drinking do not mix, whether it be cars, motorcycles or other modes of transportation. It is hypocritical to say one thing and do another.

  After seeing what was happening, I withdrew from this kind of activity. It is sad that some of us have to suffer the consequences of others' disregard of the law.

  So next riding season, let's all think of the purpose of our involvement in this kind of activity. Let us remember that we are not the only ones on the road, and sober driving does not apply only to one section of society, but to everyone, including bikers. If you want to drink, which is your right to do, wait until you are off the road.

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