RIDING TIP: 5 Ways To Reduce Crash Risks at Intersections
Five (5) Ways to Reduce Crash Risks at Intersections
Climbing on board your bike is a move towards freedom and the joy of an open road. With upwards of 100,000 motorcycle-related accidents occurring each year, it’s crucial to keep in mind the risks you’ll encounter on the open road whenever you climb aboard, Intersection accidents make up around 33 percent of all motorcycle-related accidents making them some of the most dangerous places for bikers to ride, regardless of weather, time, or lighting. Taking some specific precautions taught by professional rider training organizations from around the world can help you stay safe at these crucial junctions and avoid motorcycle crashes altogether.
It is a bogeyman in the motorcycling world; the crash at an intersection. Unlike the mythical creatures that frightened us as children, crashes at intersections do exist and are rightfully our worst nightmares. Funny enough, the imaginary beings created to teach children lessons are the very same that can help us as adult motorcycle riders. Let’s explore the Five (5) Ways to Reduce Crash Risk at Intersections.
Proactive Riding Strategy – Namahage
In Japan, children are taught about Namahage in an attempt to warn them of laziness. Our warning to you is to be proactive and avoid being lazy before entering the intersection. We’ve written in the past about riding in front of the motorcycle and using a riding strategy that prevents the need for using hazard avoidance techniques. An intersection is managed well BEFORE a rider arrives at the intersection.
This Japanese legend is applied to the world of motorcycles by encouraging riders to think and prepare before entering an intersection in order to avoid encountering a hazardous situation with other riders in the first place. This means engaging in thorough preparation, including selecting the right gear and placing yourself in the correct lane before ever entering the upcoming intersection. A little foresight goes a long way when it comes to preventing accidents.
Avoid Hiding – Babau
In Italy, Babau is a boogeyman who hides. Hiding is the exact opposite of what we want to do when approaching an intersection. In the Basic RiderCourse we talk extensively about seeing and being seen. We introduce a concept called “Presentation”. It is defined as lane positioning yourself where other cars have a better probability of seeing you. As we’re approaching an intersection, we should ask ourselves:
- Can I see all cars at the intersection, especially the ones who may want to turn left in front of me?
- If I place myself in other drivers vehicles, from their perspective, can they see me?
It is our responsibility to make sure drivers have the best chance to see us. Lane positioning is a dynamic activity; it requires us to be constantly vigilant so that we can maximize the time and space we have to react.
Anytime you’re on your bike, visibility is the key to safety. This fact is imperative when it comes to avoiding a motorcycle intersection crash. In the end, though, it’s your responsibility to ensure your own safety. Make sure you are completely visible to other riders at the intersection by paying attention to your current position and the positions of others at all times to reduce motorcycle crash risk. Don’t hide yourself away – don’t be a Babau.
(What do you think about this rider’s intersection management?)
Brightly Colored Gear and Well Lit Motorcycle – El Cucuy
In Mexico, children are on alert if they see the bright red glowing eyes of El Cucuy. We want motorists around us to easily see us. We can accomplish that goal if we make sure our lights are working properly. Using your headlight, including brights, during the daytime is critical. Riders may want to consider adding retro-reflective material to your motorcycle for night time riding. Up-fitting your motorcycle with additional lighting may be a valuable tool to increase your chance of being seen.
In order to further your cause of easy visibility, consider the Mexican legend of the brightly-colored Cucuy. Not only should all of your lights – both stock and aftermarket additions – be working and bright even in broad daylight, but the gear you wear should also reflect these same values. If you don’t prefer bright riding gear and like how the traditional leather look suits you, consider at least adding some reflective riding tape to your helmet, jacket, pants, and boots. This further increases your chances of being seen in an intersection setting, especially at night.
All The Gear, All The Time – Sack Man
Kids in Brazil are worried about being taken away by “o homem do saco” or Sack Man. Want to increase your chances of NOT being carried away in a bag in case of an incident? Wear proper protective gear. We’ve written about it in the past, and we’ll continue to write about it in the future. In particular, wear gear that grabs attention so that we can increase our chances of being seen. Before we consider hopping on our rides, we make sure the following gear is ready to rock:
- DOT Approved Motorcycle Helmet (at least; Snell and ECE are ratings you may want to include)
- Eye Protection (may be included with the helmet)
- Motorcycle Specific Jacket
- Motorcycle Specific Pants
- Motorcycle Specific Full-Fingered Gloves
- Motorcycle Specific Footwear
Investing in a full set of motorcycle-specific gear often takes care of much of the visibility issue for you. Donning a full suit can maximize the number of reflectors you have and make your presence generally larger, allowing other riders to spot you more quickly. Surround yourself with the right gear and avoid the sack altogether.
Cover Your Controls – Bøhmand
In Denmark, the bogeyman is known as Bøhmand. He specializes in GRABBING children who will not sleep. When it comes to using our clutch and brake, we’ll want to do anything BUT grab. We will want to consider covering our clutch, front brake, and rear brake before we enter an intersection so that if we need to use them, we’re already in position. We get questions about two fingers or four when riding; when it comes to intersections, whatever is most comfortable for you as long as the controls are covered.
Being at the ready is crucial in any situation, but intersections may require you to make sudden stops if all of your preparation doesn’t work. Regardless of how you do it, just grab your brake and clutch and hold on like the Bøhmand itself when things don’t go according to plan
We wanted to have a little fun with this month and lighten up a dark topic in the motorcycling world. We’re interested to know how you approach intersections. What works best for you? Please send an email or leave your comments below.
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Bill Seltzer has been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach since 2003 and a Total Control Advanced Riding Instructor since 2011. He currently serves as the Marketing Director for TEAM Arizona and is a member of the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Planning committee. Have questions or comments about the article? Email him: Bill@MotorcycleTraining.com
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