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Getting it wrong is easy, learning from a mistake seems a lot harder
However good we are, we all make mistakes. Provided we survive them, then do we learn from them? It's a good question and insurance industry statistics suggest that most riders don't. Riders who have had an accident in the previous three years are three times more likely than average to have another accident in the following year - insurance companies do not load the premiums of riders who crash for no reason! And here's something else to think about. We don't have to learn from our own experience, we can look at where other riders crash, and historically we still have the same accident types as motorcyclists have always had. Here are the Big Three. Collisions at junctions. Crashes on corners. Overtaking accidents. Look at statistics from the 1950s and 2010s and you'll find nothing has changed. What does that tell you? It should suggest we don't learn well from experience - either our own, or someone else's.
Have you had a 'moment' recently?
Have a think. Ask yourself some questions.
Did you see it coming, and if you did were you able to react in time and take avoiding action? If you couldn't take evasive action, why not?
If you didn't see it coming, what were you looking at? Did you fail to spot the clues to what was about to happen or did you fail to anticipate the likely sequence of events and consequences of what you were seeing?
We should know by now that the most common motorcycle crash is a collision between a bike and a car. But have a think on this. If the driver failed to spot the bike, the car was almost always where the rider could see it. Riders usually report that "the driver didn't see me" and not that "I didn't see the car". In fact, they often say something along the lines of "the driver was looking right at me". So the rider saw the vehicle they were about to collide with, no problem.
So what was going on in the rider's head at that moment? Do they simply glance at the car, then leave it to the driver to sort it all out? That certainly seems to be the case in most car : bike collisions.
Here's another example. A typical overtaking and filtering crash occurs when the driver turns right across the bike's path. The rider's cop-out is usually that "the driver should have checked his mirror properly" or "the driver didn't signal before turning". But think about it. If a car COULD turn right, why is the rider overtaking? Did the rider fail to spot the junction or driveway? Or did the rider simply assume that the driver wouldn't turn?
If we haven't anticipated a dangerous situation, then it's our mistake as much as anyone else's. And many bike crashes are down to the rider alone. Most cornering crashes and many overtakes that go wrong result from really poor decisions by the rider and the rider alone. Even when legally it's the fault of another road user that we found ourselves in a difficult or dangerous situation, we should be looking for ways not to get into that situation in the first place. There's no benefit to blaming the other road user from the stretcher.
If we don't ride in a state of mind where we are looking for things to go wrong, then we WILL be caught out by unexpected - and very much routine - crashes. If we habitually say "it was the other guy's fault" or "there was nothing I could do", then we are fooling ourselves and will learn nothing. We need to assess our riding critically. Yet many riders find it almost impossible to admit to making a mistake. "The corner's surface was rubbish", or "the driver coming the other way was speeding".
As I mentioned right at the beginning, we have the same crashes as we always have always had. Why haven't we learned?
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...because it's a jungle out there
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