Riding Tip: How to Manage Intersections on a Motorcycle

October 19, 2020 Tags: ,

Managing Intersections Like a Boss

Intersection safety is one of the essential things for motorcycle riders to learn about. No matter what city you live in, intersections pose some challenges for riders. Some of our students have even said intersections are the bane of their existence. In this series, our motorcycle riding lessons explore intersection management to find ways to reduce our risk and probability of being in a crash. 

In particular, we’ll be looking at a few high challenge intersections within Phoenix, Arizona. Since most of the students at our motorcycle riding classes in Arizona come from within the state, these examples are especially relevant. For this first video, we will talk about a strategy when approaching an intersection. We say this often: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

In our classes, we provide participants hazard avoidance techniques like swerving and max performance braking. While it is imperative for riders to have these skills, it is our hope that riders never have to USE these skills. Those skills will come into play when you find yourself getting into a dangerous situation, so it’s important to know what to do. Better still, we want our students to have the intersection management skills to maintain good intersection safety without having to put their skills to the test.

Your riding strategy doesn’t have to be overly complex to have enormous benefits for your safety. We can typically condense a good motorcycle intersection management plan into three simple steps:

  • Search
  • Evaluate
  • Execute

It’s as simple as that, and the execution should be reasonably easy if you’ve done a good job with the searching and evaluation. A good strategy can help preserve intersection safety without the need for advanced motorcycle hazard avoidance techniques. The first step to developing a great strategy is to know what you should expect in any given situation, which requires excellent vision. So let’s get started by looking at how we use our vision!

1 – Search

By looking far forward, we can start searching for hazards well before approaching an intersection. There are a few different kinds of hazards to be aware of, so students in our motorcycle riding classes are encouraged to think about the following:

  • Look for motorists who may want to enter our right of way. 
  • Look for road surface imperfections and contaminants like oil, antifreeze, and general debris.
  • Look for roadway markings providing us information about hazardous or unusual situations.

As you’re actively looking for those three things, it’s also good to keep an eye out for any unusual circumstances or anything else that could present a problem that would compromise your motorcycle intersection safety. In other words, it’s essential to understand what you’re seeing and what you’ll have to do about it. That’s where the evaluation stage of our intersection safety plan for motorcycles comes into play.

2 – Evaluate

As we search the area ahead of us, we’ll want to Evaluate the hazards we see. Which hazards are the most harmful to us? Determine a priority for these hazards. As you become more comfortable on your bike through experience or motorcycle riding classes, it will get easier to prioritize different hazards in your head.

You’ll start to get more comfortable determining whether a potential hazard requires you to take action. For example, do you need to adjust your course, or should you just be keeping an eye on a particular danger to see how the situation develops? The process of evaluating hazards comes very naturally to experienced riders, and training is the best way to improve your skills.

The good news is that even beginners can generally evaluate potential hazards with ease as long as they start with a good plan. In other words, the evaluation stage of our intersection safety strategy is a lot easier if you’re doing a good job actively searching for hazards. It’s easier to process and evaluate a risk when you see it for a long time in advance. 

Prioritizing potential intersection dangers is difficult if you don’t even know about them until you’re riding right past them. Keep your eyes and your mind active. If you can do that, you’ll find it a lot easier to prioritize hazards without getting stressed, surprised, or overwhelmed by them. Now that you’ve identified the risks and prioritized them, it’s time to execute your plan.

3 – Execute

Finally, we’ll want to Execute to avoid possible hazards. We can execute by changing our position, changing our speed, and communicating our intention with other motorists. While we teach our motorcycle riding students some high-performance danger avoidance moves, we never want you to have to do anything incredibly challenging to avoid a hazard.

Of course, there are some times when hazards materialize quickly, especially at intersections. That’s part of the reason we devote so much time to intersection management and intersection safety. When you approach all intersections with vigilant attention and complete situational awareness of your surroundings, it will be easier to deal with hazards because you’ll understand the entire situation.

For example, after paying a lot of attention when searching for and evaluating potential hazards in the intersection, you’ll find it much easier to execute any moves like the following:

  • Adjusting speed to avoid hazards; this includes slowing down or speeding up to avoid being trapped by traffic 
  • Altering position, including changes within the lane or into another lane, to maneuver past a stopped or turning vehicle or other hazard
  • Actively maximizing your visibility and communicating your intentions with other drivers on the road by using your turn signals or brake lights

Maintain Intersection Safety – Wrapping Up

The purpose of this motorcycle training video is to try to reduce complex challenges at intersections to a simple, three-step process. Search. Evaluate. Execute. Try applying this riding strategy the next time you ride and EVERY time you ride. For our next video, we’ll be talking about maximizing your ability to see and be seen. 

From there, we’ll also go into greater detail on other intersection management strategies. For example, our experienced motorcycle riding coaches will teach you how to position yourself and your bike as you approach an intersection. You can also continue to learn about the different scenarios you might encounter when you have to stop at an intersection and minimize interactions with other motorists on the road. 

With upwards of 100,000 motorcycle-related accidents occurring each year, it’s crucial to know and understand the risks and dangers you may encounter on the road. As part of our commitment to keeping riders safe, we occasionally release new videos to keep you educated about the best ways to reduce motorcycle crash risks. Make sure to Like this video, comment, and subscribe to this channel. Doing so will make it easier to find all of our future videos and get free motorcycle riding tips. 

Motorcycle Safety Classes

Our experienced motorcycle riding coaches can help if you’ve already watched all of these videos and want more hands-on training. From intersection management to everything else, we have a wide variety of motorcycle riding courses, so don’t hesitate to contact us. Until then, be safe, and have fun out there!




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Bill Seltzer Yamaha FJ-09Bill 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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