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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.
Survival Skills Rider Training
...because it's a jungle out there
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