More attention could avoid many accidents
STRIKE up a conversation with a cyclist -- motor or bike -- and it won't be long before they bend your ear about the actions and attitudes of drivers -- a broad spectrum of people who also drive pickups, minivans, sport utes, motor homes and every other type of vehicle on the road.
Their biggest complaint is that drivers don't notice riders. Other road users do not notice them -- often causing near-crashes or other similarly scary moments. This "recognition" problem is not confined to two-wheelers -- the problem is widespread and accounts for the vast majority of crashes -- inattention or failure to recognize a problem or threat until it is too late....
Driving is a visual exercise and if a motorist is actively and routinely searching the area surrounding their vehicles, they would be aware of not only motorcycles and bicycles -- but a lot more. Crash rates would plummet along with insurance rates (maybe) and we'd be able to give the people in the emergency ward some time off. The one single, simple fact that would prevent the great majority of conflicts between two-wheeled vehicles and others would be the proper setting and use of mirrors -- side mirrors to see to the side and the rear view mirror to see what's behind. If this is the case, the only possible reason for not seeing a motorcycle or bicycle is not using the mirrors -- properly or often enough.
Looking at the mirrors isn't the answer. A driver has to be thinking of the job at hand -- driving. There is no sense looking at something without seeing it -- paying attention to the message the eye sends to the brain. Talking on the cellphone isn't the problem -- the distraction causes crashes. Since both the larger vehicle and bike or motorcycle are likely in motion most of the time the scene is constantly changing. The mere presence of motion should trigger an alert mechanism within the brain -- if we are alert to that possibility. The size and location of motorcycle tail lights and turn signals also make it more difficult to notice them at night or in bright sunlight when signalling a turn....
Other areas of conflict between two and four or more wheels are based on physics. Bikes and motorcycles are inherently less stable than other motor vehicles... If at all possible when coming up on a bike or motorcycle that you intend to pass, time the spacing and pass so that you can pull out a bit, creating a bit of a space cushion... Since two-wheelers depend on a measly pair of tire footprints smaller than the palm of the hand, they have less grip than other motor vehicles -- especially when slippery...So give them a break in these situations when they find it necessary to weave a bit to avoid standing puddles or deep sections of water -- they don't have the luxury of three more tires...
Injuries and deaths from motorcycle and bicycle crashes are primarily the result of the exposed nature of the rider. Try to remember that when you are attempting to blow by them with little space or ignore your mirrors for long periods of time. Constantly search the path ahead, behind and to the sides for two-wheeled vehicles. When you see them, try to think back to time spent on bicycles and allow them their space.
This reminds me of the post Drivers Poll way back in May, where Paige linked an article at
I loved a quote from a professional driver in the article when he said,
"The most basic -- and violated -- safety rule is to pay attention, to watch what's going on around you," said Ray, the Indy driver. "At the speeds I travel on a race track, if I take my focus off the road for a fraction of a second, it can be fatal. Street drivers need to know that their attention to what's happening is just as crucial."
I find the majority of road users pay little attention to whats going on around them and that's what I like about the bike, You have to pay attention!