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It Can Happen to You

I received a letter from a person I met several years ago as they attended their first motorcycle club meeting. We discussed rider education and he followed up by completing a beginner riding course; which he highly recommends to others. After the course he said he, like many others, would just skim over any safety articles he ran across in newsletters or magazines.

"The purpose of his letter to me was to encourage me to remind others that it can happen to anyone."

A couple of months ago, he and his wife were enjoying a leisurely ride when they had the unfortunate experience of having a car turn left in front of them at a busy intersection. He said it happened so fast that he never had a chance. They broadsided the car and the crash totaled their bike and left both of them to recover from their injuries.

They certainly weren’t planning to crash that day. He was a trained rider with several years of riding experience and thought he would never get in a situation like that. The good news is that they now have a new bike and are back on the road. The purpose of his letter to me was to encourage me to remind others that it can happen to anyone. In fact he suggested I show his letter to any person who tells me they won’t get caught up in a crash.  

 All it takes is for you to lose your focus on your riding and it’s easy to get distracted while you’re traveling down the road. Maybe you start thinking about something you have to do after you get back home and you ignore the driver talking on his phone. He’s asking how to get to his friend’s house when he realizes he needs to turn right now. You miss his quick glance in his right mirror just before he cuts you off to turn right.

 Not recognizing the dangers of the upcoming crossroad hidden by the tall corn growing all the way to the corner could be enough to lead you into a compromising situation that ends with a crumpled bike and agonizing pain.  You might be expecting everyone to stop at the red octagonal sign, but they can’t see through the corn either and don’t think there is anyone coming. Perhaps they’re distracted by the passenger or something that just fell off the seat and they don’t see the stop sign.

 Even if you see a situation developing that can be injurious to your health, your skills need to be finely honed by recent practice or you may not be able to maneuver your motorcycle out of trouble to avoid a crash. Making a bike stop as quickly as possible requires applying maximum braking force without locking up either wheel. Effectively swerving around an obstacle calls for quick reactions to press on the hand grips firmly while maintaining a constant speed. Both of these skills must be practiced regularly in order to be fresh enough when needed.

This is not to say that crashes are inevitable. Paying attention to your riding environment and employing a sound mental strategy coupled with well tuned physical skills can prevent most crashes. On the other hand, just because you’ve been riding for a while and have never had a crash doesn’t necessarily prevent a crash either. It can happen to you if you’re not prepared.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!