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Safety Instructor Killed in Accident.

10413 Views 61 Replies 21 Participants Last post by  ksquid
Left turn... again. Driver only gets a couple of tickets for killing someone...again.
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I have no problem with folks discussing crashes (even when "blame" is sometimes assigned without knowing all of the facts), since some good information usually gets dispensed as a side benefit. Hopefully this will fall into that category.

That classic "left turn in front of the motorcyclist" collision is the most popular "biker killer" (upwards of 70%) for two reasons:

1) Most people don't get on the brakes hard enough to significantly reduce the resultant impact speeds (if contact is absolutely unavoidable). Sounds simple, but consider: The last "emergency situation" you lived through -- could you have braked harder and still maintained control? If you're honest, the answer is "yes". It might have just been an "urgent attention needed" scenario, not an "emergency" one.

2) Most people will panic and instinctively turn the handlebars to the left (very efficiently countersteering the bike "hard right", and directly into the left turning car).

This can even happen to very highly skilled riders too (I'm certainly not including myself in that group, just stating a personal belief).

Hard braking and steering techniques should be practiced as often as possible -- maybe even every time we ride; so it's as instinctive and effective as possible when it's required. Most people, even otherwise excellent riders or drivers, will tend to panic, or at least be indecisive in ALL crisis situations. This is one that generally doesn't present sufficient time to make any real decision at all.

So I try to take the human (me) mostly out of the equation whenever I can.

Personally, what I do is try to use a "situational awareness" technique by consciously taking particular note of all traffic positioning as I approach every intersection, and usually try to be in the right lane (or to the right of the left lane) whenever possible by the time I get there. This should help provide roughly the maximum amount of space (and time) between you and a left turner in most cases. This also gives oncoming traffic a chance to see your bike (and its headlight) change position, maybe drawing attention to you as you approach.

Still, if you're in "the best position" and the worst still happens, it might then be possible to go around the car (to the left) as long as you KNOW you have no "company" in the lane immediately to your left -- and no traffic immediately behind the "left turner" either; however, just as importantly, you now have a new option: you can even TURN RIGHT if contact is obviously unavoidable (at least putting yourself roughly in the same direction of travel and minimizing the resultant speeds between you and the "enemy").

Either of these manuevers might also help a LOT if the idiot finally "sees" you and actually STOPS right in the middle of the intersection (as they've done to me in the past on more than one occasion). You may still end up with severe injuries if you lowside, but shouldn't end up doing a flying Super Hero or "straight in face plant" (with resultant brain or spinal cord damage).

Having said all that (as your eyes glaze over...), some two vehicle collisions are probably still unavoidable (but mostly become so due to inattention on at least one party's part). I'm also no highly trained expert, I'm just stating what has seemed to work for me so far; and hopefully will continue to. I could also have my head up my butt, and have thisll wrong" too. So use or ignore it as you see fit.

But please feel free to offer any new ideas and suggestions to all of the people you ride and hang out with, as I personally learn valuable new tips every year (and have been riding well over 30 years). It's truly a shame that only tragedies like this one force "moto-school" to come into session among riders and friends.
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Excellent Post. Well said. Much better than I
Re: Defending the dead

Well said. You nailed it, very succintly
Excellent Post and you make an very important point about braking. to reduce the impact. One time I got in car accident cause I was fumbling with my cell phone looked up and the light in front of me was red. I saw the cross traffic in the intersection as I was slamming the brakes (no ABS) and I was skidding and sliding the rear. I hit a guy broadside but the damage was minimal..because I had slowed quite a bit. The cop went easier on me than I suspect the usual red light runner cause he saw my skid marks and said the yellow light seemd short. Even though I didn't even see the yellow. Stupid cell phones.. Should outlaw them while driving keep idiots like me from killing somone.. Excellent Post and the practice thing is another good point.. I used to do it but have gave up on it the last two years. When I get my bike back I will .. Thanks for the reminder.
Lots of valuable information there, thanx. Along the lines you mentioned, over 40 odd years have taught me that there were probably more times I couldn't brake to a stop but was able to slow down enough to swerve around the offending obstacle and avoid a crash. This is one of the reasons I felt very strongly that the MSF should never have taught if you locked your rear wheel in a maximum braking effort, leave it locked. Even though I was a MSF instructor for eight years, I think this is a potentially deadly action. If you are leaned over and lock your rear wheel, by all means, keep it locked. You're goin' down, but a low-side beats a high side every time. However, if you are reasonably upright, release the rear brake and allow it to hook up before reapplying. The reason I believe so strongly in this is because if your rear wheel is locked and you do have to swerve around some object, then at the most crucial time to avoid a crash, you have to remember to unlock the wheel before you swerve. If you make any attempt to swerve with the rear wheel locked, you're on your butt. Also, at that most critical moment, it takes time (and distance) to allow the rear wheel to regain traction to allow you to swerve. At that point, you may not have enough space and you will crash into what you were trying to avoid. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.....
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Good thing the guy you hit wasn't on a motorcycle.

How are those delusions?
Re: Defending the dead

succinct: [suhk-singkt] -adjective

1. expressed in few words; concise; terse.

2. characterized by conciseness or verbal brevity.

3. compressed into a small area, scope, or compass.

4. Archaic.

a. drawn up, as by a girdle.

b. close-fitting.

c. encircled, as by a girdle.

—Related forms

succinctly; adverb

succinctness; noun

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I thought when the rear wheel locks-up, slides, and then regains traction suddenly - you won't be on your butt: rather, you'll do a Superman........................
My point exactly. Keeping it locked and low siding beats the heck out of releasing the brake, having the tire regrip, and flip you over the top (you did remember to wear your cape, didn't you?)
Yep you are right. I don't drive and phone unless I have a head set. I try not to use a phone and drive but between 2 daughters, a wife and work (24X7 sometimes)'s hard not to... My delusions are fine thanks.. As big as ever...
Re: Defending the dead

Good one! And your point is......?
It sounds like you may be a follower of the Credo of The Pace. I realize you may already know this, but some readers may not. The Pace involves a philosophy of riding that reduces your chances of hurting yourself, while still allowing you to take the corners with all due speed. What they're saying, to the unititiated, is that you gotta ride your own ride. Whoever is in the lead needs to lollygag down the straights, (at only slightly illegal speeds) and, after figuring out what the corner is all about, taking it as hard as you can. If it's worse than you thought, you keep a neutral throttle and let the tires allot all their grip to cornering. If you come in a little slow, you can roll on throttle through the whole corner. Sometimes you can get a big jump on more powerul bikes that way. On a race track, the more powerul bike would put you into the distance the first time the course straightened out, but on public roads, racing to the next corner is crazy, irresponsible, and most important, can get you killed.

The Pace says that straight stretches are where your buddy, who may not ride as well as you, can get a chance to catch up, if you will only let him. You need to leave sufficient gap between you and the guy in front of you, in case his day goes to hell in a hurry. You running over him is not going to improve things. And it will keep you from getting hypnotized by the tail light of the guy in front of you. You are now riding his ride, and if he's about to screw up, so are you.

I think, whether AirHawk knows anything about The Pace or not, he is probably struck by how much sense it makes. Everybody out there needs to think about it. Many of us are now riding machines that not too long ago would have bcompetitive race bikes. If you are riding on the road at sporting speeds, you should probably know about The Pace.
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What you do is turn off the cellphone while you're in the car. Then you asnwer whoever left a message when you get a chance to stop. It's surprising how much of what you get isn't even important enough to warrant a message. A guy even older than I once told me that the graveyard is full of irreplacable men. Unless you're expecting a baby, or something, it's not really as important as it seems.
This is a very serious subject, and lots of posts have raised good and serious points. But from my perspective (ie, in the UK) two things stand out, and I'd like some serious explanations, please, without wisecracks...

1. Left-turn accidents involving motorcycles are frequently fatal in the US. For us, it's right-turn since we drive on the left etc etc, but right-turn fatalities are nowhere near as frequent as yours. What is it about your intersections that makes them so lethal?

2. About locking the rear wheel under braking and high/low-siding as a result. In over twenty years on bikes in the densest urban traffic imaginable (central London), I have momentarily locked the back wheel maybe twice under very heavy braking. When swapping stories over a few beers with riding buddies, nobody ever tells a wheel-lock-up story. The point here is again that such instances are very rare. Do we have grippier road surfaces than you, do we use the front brake more, or are we taught to anticipate hazards better in our equivalent of your MSF courses? Serious explanations, please - I actually want to know.
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1) Hardly any roundabouts - we have lots and lots of 4 way intersections where people turn left across traffic.

2) Most of those intersections do not have a seperate signal for left turns, at least not here in MI

3) Our "motorcycle safety training" course is typically 1 day long, and you take it once in your life. I had someone follow me into my driveway once and ask me why I use my front brake!
Best advice I've ever been given was "Drive like you're invisible."

Cages don't care about you, but I don't think they're "out to kill you".

Rather, I pretend that they don't see me at all, and thus NEVER depend on them to not hit me. I get out of their way, not the other way around. Whenever I see someone who is in a position to make a left tun in front of me, I cover all of my controls, stare at them, and prepare myself to get the F*** out of their way. It doesn't matter who had the right of way if you're dead.

I've been hit once by a left turner, and I don't intend to LET it happen again.
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Re: Defending the dead

Check the software engineer's "spelin".

The PACE, by Nick "Don't bother trying to pronounce it, you'll just butcher it" Ienatsch.

Here is another version.
Thanks. The separate signal for left turns is the one that does it: our right turns have a separate lane, big direction arrows on the road, and a separate set of traffic signals. As for brakes, you've already said it. For the benefit of all the non-front-brakers out there: the front brake does 90% of the stopping, so use it!
Motorcycle awareness is taught, oh...... I'd say........ NOT AT ALL to the typical American teenager who is "training" for a Driver License.

I took an 80hr course when I was 16. They mentioned motorcycles in it ONCE, - as a note that this course would not provide training, nor an "M" endorsement on your License.

Most American teens don't have to take even a rudimentary Driver-Education class. Nor do foreigners have to truly demonstrate a mastery of the American Road-System before they hand them an un-restricted permit. You can *FORGET* Motorcycle Awareness.

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