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Not My Fault

How many times have we heard the same story from crash involved riders? As they share the details of their crash, they often lament, "There was nothing I could do." Typically they are correct in their assessment. At that point there was little, if anything, they could do. But does that mean they were simply a victim of circumstances in an uncontrollable environment? Or was there something that they might have done to avoid the crash altogether?

"Crashes rarely are the result of a single cause or
event. "

This is not intended to imply in any way that the rider was at fault in the crash, but rather to explore the situation from a different perspective. Crashes rarely are the result of a single cause or event. Normally it is a combination of factors that lead up to the crash. If any one of the factors is missing, the possibility of the crash not happening increases. So what are some of these issues?

Let's look at the most common multi-vehicle crash in which another driver violates the rider's right of way. Clearly the other driver is at fault in this situation, but the rider is the one who pays the price. What might the rider have done to avoid this crash? Sometimes it's the little things that count.'

Knowing that intersections pose the greatest risk for this type of crash, did the rider slow and change position to allow more time and space in case the driver did turn or pull out? Some riders speed up to ensure they catch the green light. Did the rider keep watching the other vehicle to see if the steering wheel moved or the tires began to roll? Some riders see the vehicle stop and assume it will stay put as they search for the next potential problem.

Was the rider traveling faster than the surrounding traffic making it more difficult for the driver to judge their speed and distance? Did the rider pay attention to what the driver was doing (cell phone, eating, dancing to the music) that might distract them? Were there any physical obstructions that could hide the rider from the driver's view like a roof support or objects hanging from the mirror?

Did the bike's headlight blend into the daytime running lights of the vehicle behind them making it harder for the driver to see them? Was the sun low in the sky producing a glare that affected everyone's vision? Was there a vehicle parked near the corner obscuring the driver's view of the motorcycle? Was the rider hidden by the vehicle ahead of them so the other driver believed it was clear to turn or pull out?'

What about the rider's physical expertise? Were the biker's braking skills as finely honed as they might have been? Many riders lock their brakes when trying to stop quickly which extends their stopping distance.

None of these things is meant to imply the rider was at fault in the crash. On the other hand, any one of them just might have allowed the rider to avoid the crash. Because we have so much to lose in a crash, we need to assume a larger role in providing for our own safety on the road. We can't afford to let the factors that could lead to a crash gang up on us. Not if there is something we can do to eliminate a few of them before they get us. Because we still pay the price even if the other driver is wrong.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!