Oregon motorcyclists have the reputation, deserved or otherwise, for being a breed apart and occasionally, a law unto themselves. This is almost certainly unfair, as it’s safe to say motorists that use four wheels are equally as likely to violate Oregon’s road safety laws as those that go around the state on two.
What it is fair to say is that, when motorcyclists are involved in traffic accidents, they are far more likely to be seriously injured than motorists who are surrounded by metal, built in safety cages and air bags. That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is asking motorcyclists to stop their fellow cyclists from riding when they’ve had too much to drink.
Many drivers actually feel like they’re more in control and can drive better after having a few drinks than when they’re completely sober. The fact is, this simply isn’t possible. No one…absolutely no one…is immune to the effects of alcohol in their system.
You feel more in control, but the reality is somewhat different
It’s true that a few drinks can make you feel more relaxed, and some riders make the natural assumption that because they feel better, they’ll ride better. Unfortunately, every study ever carried out contradicts that theory, because the use of alcohol has a very negative impact on the very things you need to ride a motorcycle, including:
- A very accurate sense of balance
- Good judgment
- The occasional need for lightning reflexes
- Most importantly, alcohol dims reality to the point where you fail to recognize the inherent risks that go with motorcycling, thereby stopping you from thinking clearly and driving safely.
Another thing motorcyclists are frequently unaware of is that their blood alcohol content does not necessarily have to be at over the legal limit of .08 percent. If a road safety officer sees a motorcyclist riding in a dangerous or careless manner, it’s within the power of the officer to arrest that rider.
Some myths regarding alcohol…and the truth of the matter
So many people still believe so many old wives’ tales and urban legends surrounding alcohol consumption, when the truth is far more straightforward. We list below some of the common misconceptions quoted by drunk drivers of all types of vehicles as being absolute fact…or so they thought.
- If I drink a couple of beers (or shots, or glasses of wine) quickly, then jump on my motorcycle right away, I can get to where I’m going before the alcohol gets into my bloodstream. Wrong! Alcohol is absorbed directly through the walls of the stomach and small intestine and then straight into the blood stream. Within mere minutes, that blood—and the alcohol in it–has gone to your brain.
- Certain types of alcohol don’t get you drunk.Wrong again! Alcohol is alcohol, and a typical drink contains about a half ounce of that particular substance. By typical drink, we mean:
- One 12-ounce beer
- One five-ounce glass of wine
- One shot of distilled spirits
- I know a terrific shortcut to sobering up fast…two cups of strong black coffee and a cold shower. Very wrong! The only thing about coffee, cold showers and vigorous exercise (three commonly quoted sobering up shortcuts) that will help you get the alcohol you’ve consumed out of your system is the time it takes to drink the coffee, take the shower and do the exercise. It’s an absolute stone-cold fact that the only thing in the world that will sober you up is time. For every drink you’ve had, you’ll need an hour to get it out of your system.
Then why do some people get drunk faster than others?
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is affected by a number of factors. The one common denominator in every equation is that the more you drink, the higher your BAC will be, and the faster it will go up. Other factors that have an effect on BAC include:
- How fast you drink. The quicker you down them, the faster your BAC will rise.
- Your gender. Ladies, this may not seem fair, but because women tend to have a higher percentage of body fat per pound of weight than men do, and because alcohol finds it more difficult to penetrate fat cells, your bodies can’t absorb it as easily as men’s. The alcohol just stays in the bloodstream, giving you a higher BAC even having consumed the same amount of alcohol as a man, and even if you weigh the same.
- Having said that, if you weigh more, your body probably contains more water than someone who is lighter. This water dilutes the alcohol and gives you a lower BAC.
- Food in your stomach will definitely help delay the absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. Bear in mind, going for a pizza or a kebab after you’ve had a skin full of drink won’t help.
Use some common sense and recruit some help if necessary
Motorcyclists definitely have that fraternity thing going on, so the NHTSA would really like to see riders who haven’t been drinking stop those who have from getting back in the saddle. Without question, this can be difficult to do, but consider the possible consequences if you don’t.
If it’s a friend or acquaintance you think shouldn’t be riding, take them to one side and try to talk some sense into them. If you see someone who is clearly the worse for wear about to get on their motorcycle and you don’t know them, get some help from their friends or other motorcyclists where possible.
Oregon motorcycle accident attorneys point out that the types of injuries suffered by motorcyclists are far more likely to be catastrophic and life-changing, so it’s doubly important not to let other motorcyclists drive while drunk. Do what needs to be done; you could very well be saving someone’s life.
Oregon motorcyclists frequently require no alcohol to be involved in traffic accidents. Plenty of negligent drivers are out there who either fail to see the motorcyclist or choose to ignore them, or even drive aggressively around them.
If you’re a motorcyclist who has been the victim of one of these types of drivers, you have the right to take a civil action against them. To fully understand your rights under Oregon law, contact a team of Portland motorcycle accident lawyers for a free consultation. Their experience in pursuing damages against drivers who have injured motorcyclists could prove invaluable to you.