- About Us
- Ride Challenges
Common Motorcycle Accidents and How To Avoid Them (from article By Wes Siler-2/20/17) Riding a motorcycle is dangerous. Luckily, bikes also give you the best possible tools to avoid crashing - incredibly powerful brakes, obstruction-free vision, excellent handling and very grippy tires. Here’s how to use those tools, and your very own brain, to avoid one of these common motorcycle accidents.
Want to reduce your odds of dying in a crash? Get educated. New riders should complete a basic rider course.
Safety gear - doesn’t just help prevent injury in a crash, it can also make riding more comfortable, put you in better control of your bike, and help you be seen by other drivers. Bright colors on your helmet and jacket/suit will help car drivers see you, potentially avoiding some of the common accidents detailed below.
A Car Turns Left In Front Of You - The most common motorcycle accident. A car fails to see you or judges your speed incorrectly, turning in front of you at an intersection. Blame inattention, distraction, blind spots and even psychology; a driver looking for cars perceives merely an absence of cars, not the presence of a motorcycle.
How To Avoid It: Simple, you just need to see it coming. Par t of your job as a motor cyclist is to develop a precognitive sixth sense. Look for signs that could indicate someone may turn in front of you: a car is at an intersection waiting to turn, there’s a gap in traffic near an intersection, driveway or parking lot. In either situation, slow down, cover your brakes and get ready to take evasive action. Yes, you do need to take something as innocuous as a car waiting in a turn lane as a major and immediate threat to your life. You also need to account for objects outside of your vision. Gaps in traffic indicate the possibility of someone coming through that gap, even if you can’t see them. Again, MAJOR THREAT, PREPARE FOR EVASIVE ACTION.
Once you’ve identified said threat, you can work it through levels of severity. Is the driver clearly able to see you, without obstruction from their window pillars, trees or signs? Is that person actually looking? Are they looking at you? How are they situated in the road? What is their speed? Where are their wheels pointing?
Look at their wheels, not the car – they’ll give you the first clue of movement. During all this, also be aware of what’s behind and to your side. Should you need to take evasive action, you’ll need to know your routes of escape. It’s no good braking in time to avoid a turning car, only to be swatted from behind by a tailgating SUV. What’s the road surface like? Is it going to be able to handle the full force of your brakes or are you going to lock them? You do know how to use the full ability of your brakes, right?
Under no circumstances should you “lay the bike down.” Your best chance of survival comes from shedding as much speed as possible pre-collision, and you’re going to be able to do that best with the bike completely upright, using both brakes. Even if you only have time to lose 10 or 20 mph, that could be the difference between going home with bruises and going home at all.
You Hit Gravel In A Blind Corner - You’re out riding the twisties when, seemingly without warning, you round a corner to find a patch of sand/gravel/leaves/horse dung/whatever in your path. You put your front tire in it and wipe out.
How To Avoid It: Don’t hit it in the first place. Ride at a pace where your reaction time and ability to take action fit within your range of vision. On the road, “Slow In, Fast Out” is an effective rule of thumb. Enter a corner wide, to increase your vision and at an easy pace. You can pick up the speed on the way out, once you can see.
You Entered A Corner Too Fast - And now it’s unexpectedly tightening and you’re just not going to make it around. Oh no.
How To Avoid It: Don’t be a dummy. Only ride as fast as you can see and use visual clues like telephone poles and signs to judge a road’s direction, even if that road is disappearing over a blind crest.
If you do find yourself going too fast in a corner, the best approach is to trust the bike and try to ride it out. The bike is likely more capable than you are, so it’s really you that’s not capable of making it around. Take as much lean out of the bike as possible by hanging off, look where you want to go and be as smooth as possible on the controls. Do not whack on the brakes, chop the throttle or do anything else that may upset the bike and cause a loss of traction. Don’t panic if a peg or knee or something else touches down, just try to hold that lean angle, look for the corner exit and ride it out.
A Car Changes Lane Into You - You’re riding in traffic when a car in another lane suddenly veers into the space you’re occupying. Remember, our tiny motorcycles can easily fit into blind spots and drivers looking for cars aren’t psychologically programmed to see motorcycles.
How To Avoid It: Be aware of where blind spots lie and spend as little time in them as possible. If you can see a driver's eyes in their mirrors, then they have the ability to see you, too (But remember that still doesn't always mean they're looking – Ed.).
Beware of situations where lane changes become more possible. Is highway traffic slowing, with one lane moving faster than others? People are going to want to be in that lane. Don’t be where they want to be.
Look for signs of a car changing lanes: turn signals, wheels turning, the car wandering around its own lane while the driver checks his/her mirrors and, of course, the driver’s head moving. Be aware of all that, in all the cars around you, at all times, and you’ll be good.
Stay tuned to next month's newsletter for more Common Motorcycle Accidents and How To Avoid..
Elaine B. Ducote