Tuesday, February 28, 2017

8 Common Motorcycle Accidents & How to Avoid them

It doesn't matter if you're new to motorcycling or been at it for a while - every Spring you should take some time to dust off your riding skills (if you're lucky enough to live where snow dominates the landscape 6 months out of the year, that is).

In that spirit, here's a reminder of the most common motorcycle accidents and how to avoid them. Feel free to share this blog post with drivers as well to help them understand better what we motorcyclists go though.

  1. Entered a corner too fast and you can't stay in your lane: the best approach is to trust the bike and ride it out. The bike is likely more capable than you are, so it's really you that thinks you're not able to make it around. Take as much lean out of the bike as possible by counter leaning, look where you want to go, and be as smooth as possible on the controls. How to Avoid it: Only ride as fast as you can see and use visual cues like telephone polls or signs to judge the sharpness of a corner.
  2. A car/truck is merging into your space: beware of situations where lane changes become more possible. Is highway traffic slowing with one lane moving faster than the other? Did the person merging onto the interstate get behind you? (see "Thanks for waving as you tried to crush me"). How to Avoid it: Know
    The Truck Driver cannot see any of these bikes!
    where the blind spots are and spend as little time in them as possible.
  3. Someone on a group ride decides to show off their "mad riding skillz": Going out on a group ride when one rider wants to demonstrate their stunt riding act (although they're not professionally trained....). They end up doing something stupid, over-correct and cause an accident. How to Avoid it: Make sure everyone knows group riding etiquette and to ride in staggered formation. 
  4. A Car Door opens into you: You're in the city, stuck in a traffic jam, and it's HOT!! You decide to pass everyone on the right, between the line of traffic and parked cars when, all of a sudden, Nathan No-Look swings his door open into your path. How to avoid it: Don't "lane split" in the first place. In NY it's illegal - in fact, California is the only state that allows you to do it under the law. 
  5. You've hit gravel in a blind corner and are losing
    You're out riding through a few twisties when you round a corner only to find gravel, sand, wet leaves, or manure in your path. How to Avoid it: Don't hit it in the first place! Ride at a pace where you have time to move your bike. Enter the corner wide so you can see, and once you can see all the way through the turn you can speed up. "Slow in, fast out."
  6. Caught out in the Rain and you're playing "slip & slide": Things like manhole covers, 'tar snakes' and painted lines on the road can become slippery during a rain storm. Plus the first rain after a long dry spell can bring up all the oil & gas out of the pavement. How to avoid it: As long as you've got good tread on your tires, your bike will be fine in wet conditions. Just be smooth on your controls, take corners easy, and leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  7. A car/truck turns left in front of you - the most
    common type of motorcycle accident: 
    The science behind this happening: a driver looking for cars perceives merely an absence of cars, not the presence of a motorcycle. How to Avoid it: Look for signs that could indicate someone may turn in front of you: a car waiting to turn at an intersection, or come out of a driveway or parking lot. Yes, you do need to take something as innocent as a car waiting in a turn lane as a major and immediate threat to your life. In either situation, slow down, cover your brakes and get ready to take evasive action. And once you’ve identified said threat, you can work through it. Is the driver clearly able to see you? Are they looking at you? Where are their wheels pointing? 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? Look at their wheels, not the car itself, because the wheels will 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. 
  8. The 100% Most Avoidable Accident -
    You’d think this would be a ‘no brainer’ – we did just cover how, as a rider, you need to develop a precognitive sixth sense. But now you’re out with friends and you think by consuming a beer or two is going to add in on the fun, then ride home after that. It’s not!! You’ve just dulled your senses and taken away your reaction time. How fun is it going to be paying the DUI ticket and state fines? Paying the increases in your insurance premiums? How fun is it going to be when you get demoted at work? How fun is it going to be laying up in a hospital bed, recovering from a major accident? Or that you took someone else's life from them, their family and friends.... How to Avoid it: THINK!! DON'T DRINK AND RIDE!!! I'm not saying you shouldn’t drink at all. Just that when you do, your kick stand is down and your bike is parked for the night.
There you have it so now you can do what my Dad always told me to do, "Plan as if you'll live forever. But LIVE as if you'll die tomorrow."

Do you have any helpful advice to add? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!