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Basem Wasef

The Price of Honesty

By December 5, 2012

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Broken Mirror

Lane-splitting can be an efficient way to cut through traffic, but it also comes with its own risks-- like the time I tapped a mirror at a signal shortly after picking up a Suzuki V-Strom 650 ABS Adventure press bike. After looking over my shoulder and seeing the car's mirror housing was skewed, I decided to pull over and assess the potential damage. After the elderly driver of the ten year-old Mercedes-Benz C-Class pulled over with his wife in the passenger seat, I clicked the housing back on, checked the motor to make sure the mirror moved properly (it did), and showed the driver that it looked-- and worked-- fine. Little did I know that handing over my contact info-- just in case-- would later bite me in the butt...


While the Suzuki's freakishly wide saddlebags made it awfully easy to tap that mirror while I split lanes, I took full responsibility for my mistake, and emphasized to the driver that it looked like the mirror was fixed and that I didn't want this to become an insurance issue... but lo and behold, about a week later I got a call from an insurance company informing me of a several hundred dollar repair estimate. To make a long story short, the claim proved uncontestable; I got slapped with a $587.76 bill, which was remarkably easy to pay online thanks to a staggeringly uncourteous and condescending collection agency.

The moral of the story? Well, that really depends on your priorities. Would this experience made you split lanes more carefully? Perhaps not volunteer your contact info like I did? Or would you simply ditch the scene and hightail it into traffic?

How would you handle this situation if it you were in the saddle?


Photos © Basem Wasef

December 5, 2012 at 7:04 am
(1) Andrea Fuentes says:

Hindsight is 20/20. I still would have stopped like you did. But if everything was OK, no point in leaving contact information!!

December 5, 2012 at 8:12 am
(2) Joe says:

If you just left, someone could have gotten you plate number and then reported that you “left the scene of an accident” , a more series charge. Not a big fan of lane splitting, not legal in my state and even if it was I wouldn’t do it. I think you did the right thing.

December 5, 2012 at 9:04 am
(3) Pete says:

You did the right thing..that’s a no brainer. I’d have serious issue with anyone who disagreed.
Never been a fan of lane splitting…leagal or otherwise, for this very reason…not to mention you never know which whacko is going to pull a 9mm out of the glove box because he’s stuck in traffic and the !@#$%^&*! on the bike just pushed him over the edge.

Those are STUPID saddlebags!! They should have outrigger wheels and proximity sensors on them.

December 5, 2012 at 11:49 am
(4) Michael says:

There are times in your life when honesty costs, but a million times more when doing the right thing either pays or is its own reward. You can never go wrong by doing the right thing.

December 5, 2012 at 12:03 pm
(5) Dave says:

You did the right thing – absolutely! Never regret taking responsibility. I wish more people would! I have never been a fan of lane splitting due to the potential for someone hitting me. One suggestion that I would offer would be to get their contact information as well. That way you could at least discuss a ridiculously high estimate such as this. Perhaps they didn’t need to go to the Mercedes dealer for a paint touch-up….

December 5, 2012 at 12:43 pm
(6) Michael Campbell says:

Lane splitting is not legal in Washington State. If it was legal, it is still your responsibility to yield at all times. You caused the incident because of lack of experience in driving the vehicle you had control of and therefore “your actions” caused the incident. No damage, lots of damage and etc was caused by your actions, not theirs. They have every ethical and legal right to be made whole again. In Washington state, not leaving your information is the same as a “felony hit and run”. You goofed, you pay………….lesson learned.

December 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm
(7) GWHayduke says:

You did the right thing by pulling over and by leaving your contact info. However, you seem to be carping about the car owner filing a complaint after striking his car while you chose to lane split. I would have filed as well. You’re not an authority on Mercedes bodywork, just a guy on a motorcycle trying to get out of a bill, which was the consequence for your action of splitting lanes. If you don’t want another $500 bill, you have 3 choices:

1. Don’t lane split.
2. Don’t hit the cars.
3. Don’t stop if you do hit the cars.

Just remember, there are consequences, both positive and negative for our actions. And remember Karma has a pretty looooong reach.

December 5, 2012 at 2:08 pm
(8) Ryan says:

I would like to hear the long story of why the claim was uncontestable. You can always force them to sue.

December 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm
(9) Pete says:

Basem…I suspect there’s more than a few people waiting for your reply to Michael & GW. What a shame you’re so tactful and diplomatic.

Now if it was me replying…or maybe Joe…

December 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm
(10) DW says:

I have only a slight issue with lane splitting, scarred the hell out of me the first time I visited CA and that was because the bikes were flying far above the speed limit and they seemed to come out of nowhere.

As to your issue, perhaps not just exchanging information but taking a picture of the situation with your cell phone or camera would be prudent. Think like a lawyer, cause that is the world in which we live.

Seeing the width of that bike with the extremely wide saddlebags, I would question ever trying to lane split with them. The damn thing is half as wide a car, I have to say I admire your riding skills to not have hit more mirrors.

December 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm
(11) Joe says:

Pete, you’re saying I’m not tactful and diplomatic? LOL!! GW and Michael have a point, I remember yrs ago when one of my cars was parked on a street and someone backed into my car and left the scene. It SUCKED, I had to eat the cost of the repairs out of my own pocket. It was the right thing to do and stop. If there is Karma I hope it got that guy back.

December 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm
(12) Pete says:

Hey Joe…of course you’re tactful…just like me. I’d have been inclined to tell those 2 clowns exactly what I thought of them…but, I didn’t because that’s just not my nature.
Of course they have a point..same point every one else made in a much nicer way. They should have taken a step back and thought before accusing someone of being guilty of all kinds of things.
Sounds to me like the guy in the Benz qualifies for an a-hole award.

December 5, 2012 at 5:17 pm
(13) Dabber says:

Sorry about the incident. I am looking forward to the Vstrom 650 review tough!

December 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm
(14) Speed says:

…Doing the right thing? When I was just a kid,just got my driving license,I scratched the side of a ’63 Caddy parked on the street avoiding a dog. I parked and,having no idea whose car it was,left a note with a description of what happened and my name,phone #,Drivers License number and address. I thought,”It’s just one little scratch,and the car’s pretty old and thrashed-they probably won’t sweat it. Went home,and the people called juast as I arrived. I said to get an estimate for fixing the scratch and I make good on it. The owner seemed like a real nice guy. They (the owner and the bodyman he went to) decided the paint was impossible to match so the WHOLE CAR needed to be painted,so instead of an estimate for fixing a little scratch,I got a bill in the mail for just under $2,000!! My Insurance wouldn’t cover it because I didn’t have a Police accident report. I worked all Summer paying that off. (Sigh) BUT-it was the right thing to do,and to this day,I believe I’m ahead of the game by doing what’s right whenever possible.

December 5, 2012 at 8:51 pm
(15) Pete says:

Speed…no good deed goes unpunished – but, you still did the right thing.

December 6, 2012 at 1:04 am
(16) Doug says:

You did the only thing any decent person could do….other than giving them all your contact info…..There in lies the lesson here !

December 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm
(17) Daniel says:

I am kind of new to road motocycling. I would have done the same thing and pulled over to assess damage and leave contact info for the same reason that was said earlier on this board. Someone would no doubt have seen me leaving after hitting the mirror, gotten my license plate down and reported me as a hit and run.
But also, there is no way I would have split lanes with those huge BOXES (can we really call them saddlebags?) hanging off the rear of the bike. Like others here, I am not a fan of lane splitting at all. Scares me too much to be that close to rolling cars.

December 10, 2012 at 11:55 pm
(18) mark says:

you did the right thing, in british columbia if you had not stopped thats hit and run and then it would become expensive.

March 12, 2014 at 7:25 am
(19) str8jckt says:

10 years ago I would have popped a wheelie and kept going.Today though I would have stopped and told them how sorry I was and exchanged contact info.

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