October 17, 2009
A motorcyclist crashed into a car that was attempting a U-turn on a highway. The 52-year old motorcyclist was northbound on Highway 101, following a Kia Rio, at about 2 pm. The driver of the Rio attempted a U-turn, and the motorcycle hit the car. The motorcyclist was air-lifted to a Seattle hospital in serious condition. The 35-year old driver of the car was cited for failure to yield and treated for minor injuries.
The citation makes it clear that the U-turn was made carelessly, possibly illegally. The motorcyclist did not have time to avoid a collsion when the driver of the car suddenly slowed for a U-turn, probably without signalling. The motorcyclist probably swerved to the left, only to collide with the car as it turned left into the path of the motorcycle.
Was the collision unavoidable? The only factor completely under the control of the motorcyclist in this situation is distance between him and the car he's following. At least two seconds of travel distance is recommended, and more is even better. Frequently check your buffer distance: begin counting the seconds when the car ahead of you passes some prominent mark or object near the road - perhaps a road sign or intersection. You speed should allow you at least two seconds before you pass that same mark. If it takes you less than two seconds to reach the mark, you're following too closely. Ease up on the speed briefly to increase your following distance and then re-check by counting seconds. Two-lane highways, narrow roads, or twisty roads require more than two seconds buffer space between you and the vehicle you're following.
Live to ride again: allow at least two seconds distance between you and the car ahead of you - expect the unexpected.