Accident Scene Management / Road Guardians
Login     |     (262) 706-3278
Accident Scene Management / Road Guardians
Login     |     (262) 706-3278

Confidence or Arrogance?

Man riding motorcycle in course

It was just a routine summer day

My alarm was blaring, telling me to get up and off to work. I routinely got dressed, walked out to the garage and fired up my Harley for the ride to work. Any time I ride to work it makes the start to my day so much better! As I headed west on the interstate I heard something over the radio about changes in the westbound constructions lanes. “New lane configurations” they said. I thought “Great, a new view of things”!

Just as I was about to roll into the new lanes I checked my speed; 60 mph. Ok I thought, that is average for me. The speed limit in this zone is 50 mph, but I thought, no problem for me. I’ve buzzed thru hundreds of construction zones over the years. Just then, that little voice in my head yelled; “HEY DUMMY, SLOW DOWN! Yes you have driven thru plenty of construction zones over your time as a trucker, but these are new changes, new surfaces. You don’t know what to expect. So slow it down to see what is ahead of you”.

Well I did slow down. I learned the new section of freeway. Thirty minutes later I was firing up my semi when the thought hit me. Was it confidence or arrogance that lead me to think I could just head into a new construction area thinking I could handle anything? It has taken me months to figure out how to put these thoughts into words. Would anyone think it is worthwhile reading? Was it confidence or arrogance? I guess it’s a little of both.

I started riding motorcycles in 1976 and I began driving truck in 1977. I have lost track of how many truck miles I have driven. On my bikes I’m sure I have over 125,000 miles. I have almost 40 years of experience on the road. If not for guidance from more experienced drivers and riders, I might have not been this lucky. In 1986 my Caution Signformer employer sent us (truck drivers) for “Decision driving and skid abatement training”. I thought “I’ve been driving for 11 years now. What is there to teach me?” After 8 hours of classroom and driving tests I took my turn on the skid track. My instructor sent me into a jack knife. “Control it” he said. I grabbed the trailer brake and had an “OH SHIT” moment. My trailer came around so fast it sent me spinning! Everything I knew ( or thought I knew) was out of my control. I then removed my hands from the steering wheel and crossed my arms. The bewildered instructor asked: “What are you doing”? I replied, “Kissing my ass goodbye”. Laughing, he said, “Good, now I can teach you”.

Within a hour I could correct anything he threw at me. I went back again in 1988 for a refresher course. Finally, in 1996 I was sent for fleet instructor training. Well of course the last day we got to play on the skid track again. Out of the class of ten I was the only driver to get a complete 360 spin with a semi on the track. My passenger wasn’t thrilled, but as he drove I helped him on the training that he had trouble with. I couldn’t surprise him anymore.

As the years went by I became a Road Captain for my chapter. They told me I had another course to go through. Our chapter required Road Captains to have both Basic and Advanced ASM First Responder training. They also required Experienced Rider Training. My instructor was a former coworker and riding buddy. He told me straight out, “Your not getting a free ride here. You have to prove to us that you have the skills”. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I knew I needed to know what I’m doing, both right and wrong, as well as things I didn’t know to begin with. I never rode the box before and on a large bike. I’m glad to have taken these classes to prepare me for my life on the road. They have made me a more confident driver and rider. As the years have gone by, my training has served me well. I now hope to pass along my tips, tricks and lessons that I have learned over the years to others. I am hoping the skills I teach them will serve them as well as they have served me, but it leads me to the question that is still burning in my mind: Is it confidence or arrogance?

Written by Kevin Carpenter- ASM Instructor

Kevin is a member of Road Guardians. He is a Road Captain & Safety Officer for Milwaukee #1 HOG

Are you a Road Guardians (RG) Member? RG members support our mission of reducing injuries and fatalities to motorcyclists through education.  Do you have tips or tricks to contribute to our monthly newsletter? Contact us today!


Related Posts