Every once in a while we all need to look inward and acknowledge our prejudices
By: Michelle Arzaga
I am a car driver and a personal injury lawyer and it is through these two prisms that I see road safety.
My clients include motorcyclists with brain and spinal cord injuries that resulted from accidents with cars with distracted drivers. They are often left with severe injuries that have changed their lives forever.
My gut reaction? Limit. Ban. Prohibit. Create more laws to reduce the potential for harm.
But here is where I need to stop, reflect and ask: Why do motorcyclists have less of a right to enjoy their hobby or preferred mode of transportation?
Why are we not instead making our roads safer by addressing distracted driving?
I ask myself, is the fact that I am a car driver the only reason for not judging motorcyclists the same way as I would other drivers?
So often, people make assumptions about the character of motorcyclists – if they get on a motorcycle, they must be reckless and if they are reckless then they must have caused the collision and their own injuries.
This inference is often held by lawyers, police at the site of an accident, people who serve on juries, insurance adjudicators and even rehab treatment providers.
I encourage all of us to pause and address our own biases toward the motorcycle community – just as we should for any other form of discrimination that we may unknowingly harbour.
I also, however, urge motorcyclists to understand the unfortunate reality of this bias and ask that they recognize this added risk before exercising their right to ride. Fair or unfair, If an accident occurs resulting in serious injury, they will face a jury of car drivers and other decision makers who will judge them differently than those injured in car accidents, driving a car.
Michelle Arzaga, is a personal injury lawyer at Pace Law Firm with an expertise defending pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists seriously injured from accidents with motor vehicles. She can be reached at MArzaga@pacelawfirm.com.