Be Safe on your Motorcycle Intersections/SEE

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Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse Flyer

Should you ride a motorcycle?

Is a great article by the MSF that explores your mental and physical capabilities. Click HERE to open the .pdf from the MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation)

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Do you SEE while you are riding your motorcycle?

SEARCH – EVALUATE – EXECUTE.  You should always utilize SEE when riding your motorcycle.

SEE is critical to safe riding.  We encountered many potential dangers while riding; that is all part of the risk that we are willing to undertake.  Notice I said potential dangers because most of these dangers can be avoided accidents if you SEE Cars, trucks, animals, pedestrians, bicycles, children, children’s balls, all of these have the potential to cross your path unexpectedly while you are on your motorcycle. I think all riders probably already know that the majority of accidents involving collisions between a motorcycle and a car happen at intersections. The most common intersection accidents are a vehicle TURNING LEFT in front of a motorcycle.  You may have thought that a vehicle pulling away from a stop in your path was most common.  (Let’s face it – it seems so rare some days for somebody to sit at a stop sign and wait, that when it does, I wish I had stickers to hand out that say “I LOOK FOR MOTORCYCLES!”  to all those responsible drivers.)

You shouldn’t let your guard down when coming up on an intersection that does not have vehicles waiting on the crossroads.  Always be watching traffic coming toward you that may be turning in your path onto the upcoming crossroad, if they didn’t see you there, they may not be signaling their turn.  

If you are executing the SEE practice, then you are doing this.  When you SEE, you are looking for any potential hazard in and around the roadway. You are looking for animals, cars, trucks, etc. . . and if you see a potential hazard, you begin to instantly evaluate the situation.  Example:  I see that car coming toward me; I evaluate the possibilities – is it going to turn into a driveway or crossroad?  I execute my plan – I am prepared by covering my clutch and brake in case I need to execute an evasive action.  I also make eye contact with the driver, this tells me he sees me on my motorcycle.

Four wheeled vehicles are at fault in the majority of motorcycle/car accidents.  This statistic remains constant.  We cannot rely on others caring if we are on motorcycles, we have to take responsibility as well. Always, always, always, ride defensively.  

Obviously we can’t avoid every situation, for instance, a couple years ago I had two situations within two weeks apart, that I still think about and wonder “what would my defensive action be?”  

The first situation was an oncoming pickup truck going left of center.  We were on a two lane highway in the country, bordered by cornfields, there were no crossroads or driveways.  The first thing I did was let off my throttle to gain some distance from the truck. I also had my clutch and brake covered. The thoughts going through my mind were. . ..If I go right, into the field, that won’t help if the truck continues on it’s path and follows me into the field.  If I go left, into his lane and he corrects himself then we are head on in his lane.  If I stay in my lane and he doesn’t go all the way off the road, then head on again, in my lane.  So I applied some brake – slowing down, not stopping and praying really hard!  Fortunately he corrected himself in time to avoid a collision.  But I honestly don’t know what I personally could have done in this particular situation to guarantee I avoid a collision.  Slowing down and increasing the distance and time obviously helped.

The second situation was in front of my house.  I live on a highway with a speed limit of 55 m.p.h.  I was turning left into my driveway, there were two cars behind me, slowing as I was slowing to make the turn.  A pickup truck (again!) apparently thought the cars were just REALLY driving slow and decided he was going to pass them on the left, obviously in a big damn hurry to get somewhere.  He passed the cars at the exact moment I was crossing the left hand lane into my driveway.  He was quite surprised to see me as he slammed on his brakes the same time I was gunning my throttle.  With our combined defensive actions, collision averted.

As riders, when we slow down for turns we are always looking in the rear view to make sure any vehicles behind you are behaving as if they have acknowledged this.  Can we possibly predict that someone will pop out from behind a car or two directly behind them to pass?  Of course not, what idiot is behind slowing traffic and passes them on the left??  There was no road, drive, etc to the right . .just corn field.  So he couldn’t have thought someone was slowing to turn right.  He had no excuses, just a stupid, careless, driver who may very well kill somebody someday. Fortunate for me, not that day.

My point is IDIOT drivers are out there and will always be.  And with the added distraction of cell phones, it isn’t getting better anytime soon.  You MUST be looking for hazards and prepared to take action!  SEARCH – EVALUATE – EXECUTE. Another common danger that motorcycle riders face are deer.  By using SEE you will increase your chances of seeing a deer preparing to cross the roadway.  Limit your night riding when you will be in known deer traffic areas and certainly during seasonal rut.  When you see deer gathered in a field close to the road, be prepared for them to move. We see deer nearly every time we ride and are ALWAYS on full alert, especially when riding next to tall corn fields.  We have had them run out in front of us and pass behind us, luckily neither of us have suffered a deer strike, but we are also ridiculously aware and cautious of them.  When you are in areas of our country that have large deer populations, be aware that deer strikes on the Interstates are also common….be very careful and SEARCH – EVALUATE – EXECUTE!

Ride Safe!
Author Pam@ridersinfo
Written by Pam - RidersInfo June 2011
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