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A time to live...

Have you ever been floored by an unexpected question? I have. I'm not a quick thinker on my feet. It's why I'm not great at interviews - I like to have someone give me a question and then have time to think about the answer. The same applies out on the road. Putting ourselves in a position where we need to come up with a quick response to an unexpected problem is a prime cause of crashes.

Here's a question for you. What do:

  • "See and be seen"
  • "Only a fool breaks the two second rule"
  • "Position wide for view in a bend"

...all have in common?

The first is straight from basic training, the second is from a road safety campaign, and the third is a general axiom any advanced rider will recognise.

Answer - they all give us time on the road.

What is so important about time? It's a window of opportunity to see potential danger, and offers time to think what to do. The earlier we spot danger and the more time we have, the more likely we are to make the right decision.

Given enough time, we'd never over-cook it in bends, never be surprised when someone pulls out in front of us, never be caught out by a poor surface.

So gaining space and time is not a luxury, it's a necessity.

But it doesn't just work for the rider. We have to be in the right place to seen by other road users so that they too have time to understand what they are seeing, and how they can respond to our presence.

And that's where 'See and Be Seen' must be applied. It's something we try to hammer into new riders on basic training courses, but so often experienced riders - even those with post-test credentials - seem to have forgotten the basic lessons, and ride as if they are unaware of the risks posed by blind areas and 'Surprise Horizons' which may conceal a vehicle. Unless we put ourselves in a place where we CAN be seen, then there's little chance that driver will consider the possibility that there might be a motorcycle approaching. And when we appear and SURPRISE! other drivers and they are unlikely to react predictably!

An awful lot of "Sorry Mate, I didn't see you" SMIDSY collisions happen when the biker is hidden in traffic or behind road furniture, or behind the car's own bodywork. Some studies have estimated it's around one in five of all 'Looked But Failed To See' collisions.

Our lack of width on two wheel is both a disadvantage (it makes us harder to spot) and an advantage (it allows us to change position).

Use the one to compensate for the other. See and be seen. Find some time and use it to live.

Kevin Williams
Survival Skills Rider Training

...because it's a jungle out there


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What is Survival Skills all about?

How are Survival Skills Courses put together and taught?
The Making of a Good Instructor - musings on my Driver Education course

Would a National Standard for advanced training be appropriate?
Writing a riding tip - what detail is necessary?
What to do if you've had an accident
Accident Statistics - dispelling some myths

Improver or advanced, pragmatism or perfection?
Piling on the miles
Compartmentalisation & Practice -  the key to learning new skills
Countersteering - Question and Answer

Braking Rules and Tips
Over-confidence and Riding at the Limit
Practice makes Perfect
The Danger of Misunderstanding
Learning from your Mistakes
A Moment of Inattention
Staying Warm
Staying Awake
Don't just ride for yourself, ride for others
Filtering - what's legal and how to do it
Cornering Problems 1 - Lean or Brake?
Springing into Summer - polishing off the winter rust
Group Riding - Rules and Tips
Awareness of Risk and Risk Management
Cornering Problems 4 - Stability and the "Point and Squirt" technique
Cornering Problems 3 - Staying out of trouble! Pro-active Braking or Acceleration Sense?
Cornering Problems 2 - Staying out of trouble
What is Risk?
Avoiding Diesel
The Vanishing Point - is it enough?
Posture - the key to smoother riding
When the Two Second Rule is not enough
Riding in the Dark
Roundabouts - straight lines, stability and safety
Slow Speed Control
Aquaplaning - what it is and how to deal with it
Rear Observation - when to & when not to!
Staying upright on icy roads
KISS - 'Keep it simple, Stupid' or Low Effort Biking
Overtaking Safety - avoiding vehicles turning right
Proactive versus Reactive Riding
Living with  Lifesavers
Which Foot? The Hendon Shuffle - Question and Answer
Carrying a passenger - Question and Answer
Riding in the rain
Riding in strong winds
Sorry Mate, I didn't see you - an analysis of SMIDSY accidents
Ever gone into a corner too hot and had it tighten up on you?
The Point & Squirt approach to corners
A time to live...
Target Fixation - Question and Answer
The Lurker, the Drifter and the Trimmer
The five most important things I learned as a courier
Overtaking - Questions and Answers
Precision riding - or keeping it simple?
Wide lines, tight lines, right lines - the law of Diminishing Returns
Surface Attraction
Euphoria - when your riding is just too good to be true
Straight line -vs- trail braking
Sit back, close your eyes, relax... and hope for the best
Before you overtake, do you...?
Do you need to blip the throttle on a downshift?
Holiday Riding Tips 1 - Dealing with hairpins (a new occasional series)
Holiday Riding Tips 2 - The (drive on the) Right Stuff
Why SMIDSYs happen
Avoiding dehydration - riding in hot weather
Riding errors - and avoiding them
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness - riding in fog
Where does Point and Squirt come from?
Overtaking - lifesavers and following distances
Offsiding - what is it, and why you should think before you do it!
Anger Management - dealing with "red mist" and "road rage"
That indefinable gloss
Overtaking on left-handers - experts only or best avoided?
Apex or Exit - what's important when cornering?

Developing 'Spidy Sense'

Armchair Riding - how to improve summer skills in winter

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 1

Working towards a BTEC in post-test instruction part 2

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IMPORTANT: The information on the Survival Skills website is for your general information and personal use and should be taken as a guide only. Survival Skills Rider Training provides no warranty or guarantee as to the accuracy, timeliness, performance, completeness, clarity, fitness or suitability of the information and materials found or offered on this website for any particular purpose and we expressly exclude liability for any such inaccuracies or errors to the fullest extent permitted by law. It shall be your own responsibility to ensure that any products, services or information available through this website meet your specific requirements and you acknowledge use of any information and materials is entirely at your own risk, and that neither Kevin Williams nor Survival Skills can accept responsibility for your interpretation or use of this information or materials. The content of these pages is subject to change without notice. 

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