Here is a reality check for all those riders on the road who think they are untouchable - you are only invincible as long as you are alive. We all make the mistake of forgetting at times just how vulnerable and fragile we are. We blame other drivers, the weather, poor road conditions and even though these are all inevitably contributing factors to many motorcyclist fatalities, when it comes to survival on the road, you are your only protection. It all comes down to how bad you want to survive. I thoroughly enjoy getting on my bike on my way to work in the morning, looking at the cars around me and thinking, “Not today mother f’ckrs”. I do have itches that scratch and get a little reckless at times but on a regular basis, to increase my chances of survival I follow a certain set of rules.
Slow the F Down
If you think your reaction time at 40mph is the same as at 80mph, you are wrong. We all want to go fast, if we didn’t we wouldn’t be on a motorcycle, but make smart choices about where you do it. Riding 80mph on a city street is probably not the best idea. A driver of a parked car pulling back onto the road may do everything he or she was supposed to do, blinker, mirror and over the shoulder head check, but if you are flying down the right lane well over the speed limit, chances are by the time the driver turns his head back and begins to pull out, your bike that wasn’t there a second ago will suddenly appear approaching the car at “too late to do anything” speed. Just chill out, slow your roll and give yourself room for error. We all have places to be and it’s better to get there a minute later than not to get there at all.
Trust No One
Always prepare for the worst and don’t trust other drivers. Just because you made eye contact with that driver who is making a left turn, doesn’t guarantee he or she won’t decide to turn right in front of you at the last second. In fact, sometimes it almost seems like drivers are purposely trying to hit me so instead of giving them the benefit of the doubt, I just assume that is the case. If you expect that driver to do something sketchy, you will think of ways to avoid it. I think we would all agree that it’s better to have a plan that was never executed than to not have a plan at all.
Channel your inner psychic
Did you know that you have the ability to predict the future? You might not be able to use these skills to foresee the winning lottery numbers but you can definitely use them to prevent a motorcycle accident. Learn to read the traffic and the drivers to predict their intentions. Drivers express common characteristics before making moves. Before changing lanes, drivers will check their mirrors, turn their heads, and increase their speed. If a car intends to turn at an intersection, the angle of the front wheel will likely be facing in the direction they intend to turn. Look well ahead, if a driver directly in front of you is looking down at their phone and traffic is slowing down, there is a big chance that driver won’t stop in time. These are just a few examples of things you can predict. Oh and did I mention how fun it is to predict something that actually happens? You really do start to feel almighty and powerful.
Look both ways before crossing the street
This is something our parents taught us since we learned to walk yet somehow many of us seemed to have forgotten the lesson as adults. It’s so simple – when the light turns green at an intersection and it’s your turn to go, turn your head left and right before twisting the throttle and starting to move. We can all agree today’s drivers are pretty distracted with activities other than driving so why would we trust them to see that red light and stop? No one is perfect and I would bet most of us have made the mistake of running a red light or almost running a red light at least once in our live. Take that second to make sure all cars are stopped before pulling into the intersection, make your parents proud.
Monkey see, monkey do
Everyone wants to be different and make their own rules but being in traffic on your motorcycle is not the time or place to be a rebel. If you see cars slowing down, slow it down too. It is totally possible that one car hit the brakes for no reason and the other cars followed but what if that’s not the case? What if those cars see something you don’t? Wouldn’t you rather slow down, realize there is nothing there and shake your head as you get back on the gas rather than not slow down and be “that guy” on someone’s dash cam who gets run over by an ambulance because he failed to slow down when everyone else did.
Defense, Defense, Defense
The bottom line, be defensive. Pretend you are in a video game and your mission is to stay alive. Stay focused and alert at all times, be prepared to react, constantly scan the road, control your speed, and ride smart. Riding defensively doesn’t mean riding recklessly. Unless you are trying to impress 12 year olds, there is no “badassery” in riding like a bat out of hell through traffic. Be the “badass” who never crashes because you are so damn good at what you do you’re untouchable. Now that’s a true badass.
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