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Discussion Starter #1
I have found many disparate comments about strategies to avoid collisions, how to ride safely, be constantly aware, etc. But I have not seen much about what to do if/when you find yourself in situation where it appears a crash is imminent or very likely. For example, we all talk about approaching an intersection where a car is stopped on the right side and ready to make a left turn. As we approach we ask ourselves does the driver sees us, is the driver doing anything to indicate they don't see us, etc. So, we are "prepared" in case the driver does pull out. But, what then? I realize that, just like if this happen when driving a car, there's not much anyone can do if you are too close. But, there's that fine line between too close and being just far enough away to stop quickly enough to avoid hitting the car. I don't see a lot of discussion about techniques and strategies that may save you if you are in that "zone". (Maybe they discuss this a lot in the basic MFS course? ...which I haven't taken per my previous thread.) Or, maybe there are few good options? It just seems like this topic is concerned with the perhaps the most critical skills a rider needs to survive such a situation. I've thought about it a lot but haven't read much on it. Any comments, advice, experiences are welcome.
 

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With each possible situation being so hard to define I can't begin to give any ideas on how to survive. Planning ahead, safe riding and ATGATT. Goal is to avoid the situation. If you can't, then, you have to rely on your gear, the Grace of God and Luck. I can't think in the idea of a Zone. Either you can avoid it or you can't. Leave yourself an exit if at all possible. Watch those mirrors and crossing traffic. Prevention is by far the preferred option.
 

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You cannot prepare yourself with an exact plan on how to deal with every emergency. All you can do is be the best rider possible and stay alert. However, the number one thing you can do is stay upright. Laying down your bike before an immanent collision is the last thing you want to do. A few months ago someone suggested those yellow lights are a good chance to practice your "panic" stops. I have a phobia about riding over manhole covers, so swerving around them is also good practice. (In spite of my phobia, I ride over them all the time.)
 

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Make a habit of covering the brakes when there is a concern. Approaching these situations, you should have already thought about escape routes. Never forget you are riding a vehicle that can make amazing maneuvers! If you decide to take evasive maneuvers, always look at where you want to be, NOT where you don't want to be. If there is no time for that, stay upright, get on the brakes as hard as you can without locking them up, even if you know you will still hit something. Every MPH you shave off before impact will result in less harm. Things happen so quickly at impact you really don't have time to think, but if possible, relax and let your gear do it's job. Stiff muscles and locked joints are only going to make injuries worse.
 

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There is no cure all, but here are a few.

1. 90% of the time if a driver is going to pull out in front of you it's either he doesn't see you and is turning across your lane etc, OR he stops quickly and then pulls out (doesn't see you). Most times if they are still sitting there as you approach, then they have seen you. But it don't hurt to flash your brights or blip the throttle if you have a bad feeling.

2. Get thru blind spots as soon as possible, don't ride in them.

3. If you have to crash at under 40 mph, I had better luck laying the bike down (hit back brake and lean to left). I got a slightly raw ass, ruined jeans, and the bike was scratched up, but I did not become airborne.

Above 40 mph, there is no safe way to endure the accident. But take heart, I've had pretty good luck on bikes with yrs of riding. I had my worst accident in a cage. A guy ran a redlight and broke my neck back in 1996. So if you do all you can to ride safe, then it's just your time is the way I feel. Or maybe I love riding enough to die doing it.
 

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That's a tough one OldDave. As a fairly new rider I've given much thought to your concern. I slow down at all intersections, stay super aware and don't worry about slowing traffic behind a little. But you can't always continuously cover your brakes when at speed and there's numerous (or less) roadside entrances & exits to residences, farms, & businesses. You can't slow down for those, maybe a little if there's someone waiting to pull out, but not for the "darters" who just glance & go. Those are the ones that get us most of the time I believe. I think your speed will dictate your action, whether to brake hard or swerve, and instinct will take over. Just gotta train ourselves to not do both at the same time unless it's on purpose & want to lay it down.
 

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Just gotta train ourselves to not do both at the same time unless it's on purpose & want to lay it down.

I'll preface this by saying that I have FAR less experience than most of you. That being said, both the MSF and Proficient Riding try to hammer in the point that a laid down bike grinding steel on pavement is out of control and will never stop (bleed off speed) as well as a modern bike with disk brakes, upright, on the tires and under maximum braking. I think the thinking is, "If you're gonna impact, it's going to suck, but stay under control as long as you can."

Feel free to verbally smack me if I've misquoted or missed something obvious.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I have to agree with most of the comments made here, although I see a bit of disagreement on keeping the bike up or laying it down. And that's really were I was going with this. This "zone" as I called it (and I agree it really doesn't exist except perhaps in may imagination) is that gray area where what you do will determine if you crash or just barely avoid a crash. I agree it will largely depend on luck but there has also been discussions about going over strategies in your head so that when it happens you will react that way. We can't practice near or actual collisions. But we can imagine the situations and "try" to react particular ways.

For example, I'm a computer programmer and a guitarist. Loss of any hand functions would be devastating. (So, why do I ride at all?! Why do any of us...) So, I've considered that if I see I'm leaving the bike, in whatever situation, perhaps I should draw in my hands deliberately and take the hit on my arms, shoulder, etc. I guess, the question is, if you know you will hit a car, is there any posture you can take to minimize the damage?

Another question. If I'm going to hit a car, should I try to avoid my body slamming into the car in favor of flying over the hood for example?

I'm old enough to know that in reality, in that instant, I won't remember any discussion about this. Things happen too fast so maybe this discussion is just academic. But I'm still very interested to hear opinions and comments on it.
 

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I will say that if the situation presents itself, and you lock up one or both wheels, you've already lost a lot of your ability to maneuver.

You must always expect the unexpected when you are in traffic situations. Intersections should be entered slowly and with great caution even if the speed limit thru a light is 65 mph.

We cannot compete in contact with large objects and you will not know how you will react in such situations. You may get lucky and can quickly move to left or right. In some situations, no reaction is the right reaction.

So many accidents are caused from over-reaction but you don't know what you are going to do until you are in it.

The very best advice or suggestion I can offer, is to be so focused during each ride, that you are giving yourself enough time to react should it be necessary. It is possible to be cautious and have fun.
 

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Ive only been in 2 wrecks with cars, one I bounced off of that turned in front of me at an intersection. I skidded sliding my rear end to the right and bounced off the passengers door and window( shoulda seen the old ladys face) Freaked us both. And a parked car came out of its spot in front of me with no time to react.
My front wheel buried into their front wheel well and I flew up and landed on the hood, shoulda seen their faces...

I always think of the what if, and it is generally, when to jump and roll. look for something like grass to land in, hopefully....

Ive noticed the racers try to slide on their gear, which is way more than I ride with(full leathers with armor) after they eject.
 

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I think the thinking is, "If you're gonna impact, it's going to suck, but stay under control as long as you can."
I agree, and there are instances where you will instinctively know the best course to take (brake or swerve) based on your speed. The MSF course instructors also stressed to get out there & ride,ride,ride, not to lull yourself into thinking you can do it safely simply because you have the endorsement. That was good advice. I've had two little near misses, one at speed & one @ +/-35. A little experience went a long way in the slower one - probably not turned out well with less time on the bike. The other at speed incident, I had no time to react with a close encounter with an animal.

I have to agree with most of the comments made here, although I see a bit of disagreement on keeping the bike up or laying it down.

So, I've considered that if I see I'm leaving the bike, in whatever situation, perhaps I should draw in my hands deliberately and take the hit on my arms, shoulder, etc. I guess, the question is, if you know you will hit a car, is there any posture you can take to minimize the damage? Another question. If I'm going to hit a car, should I try to avoid my body slamming into the car in favor of flying over the hood for example?
I agree with Phreon about "layin er down". I can think of very few scenarios where I'd do that. And unfortunately, in most cases impact posture will only come from experience too, the wrong kind!
 

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I agree with lay''n the bike down if you don't have engine guards. With guards it is likely the bike may not go, or stay, all the way down which might cause the tires to dig in creating a horrible barrel role.
 

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IMO, if steel stopped and controlled a motorcycle better that rubber than we would awful heavy tires that would never wear out. Laying one down (whether on purpose or accident) is a wreck, hitting a car/truck/... is a wreck. It is not avoiding one, just picking which one you think would hurt less. I would rather slide through a farmers hay field than hit his ton truck rolling down the road. But at the end of the day I still wrecked.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I have to agree with the "stay up as long as possible" strategy in most cases. Someone said, every mph you can shave off before crashing will reduce the damage and you can only do that while the rubber hits road. That said, if my choice is lay it down and slide under a semi trailer or hit the trailer at high speed, well... I'd rather the energy be dissipated by a slide on my gear than all at once when I hit the side of the trailer. But I think such a situation would be very rare. I would think in most cases the instinctive reaction to slow as much as possible would be the best bet.
 

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I have to agree with the "stay up as long as possible" strategy in most cases. Someone said, every mph you can shave off before crashing will reduce the damage and you can only do that while the rubber hits road. That said, if my choice is lay it down and slide under a semi trailer or hit the trailer at high speed, well... I'd rather the energy be dissipated by a slide on my gear than all at once when I hit the side of the trailer. But I think such a situation would be very rare. I would think in most cases the instinctive reaction to slow as much as possible would be the best bet.
But in return I would rather splatter out on the side of the trailer than get run over and crushed by it. But in saying that we could argue ifs and buts all day long. Just consider it a success if we can live to ride another day after any kind of an incident.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Yes, I agree. I should have said, if the trailer was not moving, and if it appeared to be clear on the other side, etc. Of course, trying to figure all that out in the split second you have to make a decision seems impossible. But then again, our brains are capable of thinking at incredible speeds and reacting, but the key word there is react. You can't possibly go through a conscious analysis in that short of time.

Well, I have come away from this discussion feeling much more knowledgeable. Just knowing and understanding the "shave as many mphs as possible" and "do that using the tires as long as possible" guidelines helps a lot.
 

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If you are up to the lay it down or stay up decision point, the situation is already desperate. You should have been watching that flatbed semi when it was still not in your path. Not enough has been said about covering your brake and clutch in this whole discussion, mostly because too much discussion has been on laying it down. I am partly at fault in this.

In traffic a high state of alertness is required. Every car (pickup, truck, motorcycle) in the left turn lane, every car at a side street, every pedestrian, every bicyclist is a potential threat that must be evaluated. Most of the time the evaluation means you just ride along, but not always. I watch the wheels because you can see them roll before you can see the vehicle move.

Then there is the unknown crazy person factor. Two weeks ago I rode my bicycle to the post office. Coming back I had to cross five lanes to get to the street to my office. Traffic was completely clear, so I went. After I was committed, a small pickup came up to the street I was headed for and signaled a left turn. He was not paying good attention but it was okay, I was already to the left turn lane in the middle of the road and out of his way, or so I thought. As he started to go, I was already in the lanes going the opposite direction of where he was headed. He did not head out like he should have but cut across the lanes and headed right for me, accelerating briskly. I yelled and swerved and he woke up. You never know, he almost got me. If he had not woken up I am pretty sure he would have hit my rear wheel. Bicycle, motorcycle or car, that is the kind of driver you can never predict and probably the one you are most likely to collide with.
 

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I believe in being the eternal optimist to the bitter end. There's a way out. There's always a way out. Stay alert.

When I was in my bike wreck, it actually didn't dawn on me that I was, in fact, screwed until a microsecond before I realized I was flying through the air. The only thing going through my mind at that point was, "Stay Relaxed. Let it happen. Don't Tense."

Umm, I'm sure that wasn't very helpful.
 

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If you are up to the lay it down or stay up decision point, the situation is already desperate.
Also, it's worth mentioning that at this point, if you're actually questioning if you should lay it down or stay up, the decision has already been made for you. Things happen real fast.
 

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I have to agree with the "stay up as long as possible" strategy in most cases. Someone said, every mph you can shave off before crashing will reduce the damage and you can only do that while the rubber hits road. That said, if my choice is lay it down and slide under a semi trailer or hit the trailer at high speed, well... I'd rather the energy be dissipated by a slide on my gear than all at once when I hit the side of the trailer. But I think such a situation would be very rare. I would think in most cases the instinctive reaction to slow as much as possible would be the best bet.
I've been in that position.

My choice was to hit the rumble strip on the side of the highway, thinking the semi would zip by me. When the back of the Semi swung over the road, my choice was to hit the grassy median rather than hit the semi. Even then, I was sure I could stop the bike - right up until I hit that unseen ditch in the grass...
 
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