Motorcycle operator, age 56, on the interstate, came upon slowing traffic. The motorcycle crashed into the back of a stopped car, ejecting the passenger, age 61, off the motorcycle, over a concrete center barrier, and onto the opposite lane. The passenger went by helicopter to the hospital, and the operator by ambulance. The driver of the car was not injured.
Lessons LearnedI can understand completely every aspect of this crash, except the lack of fatal injury. How did they avoid dying?
1. Time of day: The motorcycle crashed at about 4:00 p.m. A peak time for traffic, heat, fatigue and distraction. Just the time of day alone should be a red flag of warning for the motorcyclist to be alert, take an alternate route, or even call it a day.
2. Traffic: Heavy traffic requires an increased safety buffer. Normal traffic allows two-seconds between you and the vehicle ahead of you. Heavy traffic, impatient drivers, sudden and frequent lane changes should cause the motorcyclist to increase the distance to four seconds. It doesn't matter if other vehicles take advantage of the open space...back off and keep a buffer between you and the crazy cagers.
3. Distraction and Reaction: The obvious cause of this crash was distraction, slowing the operator's reaction time. The operator might have been watching every other vehicle, except that directly in front. That distraction almost killed them.
4. Age: Older people are less agile than younger people. There, I said it out loud. Blast me or boo me, but it's universally true. Considering the factor of age alone, the older body and mind is slower to recognize, and slower to react, to hazards. How's this for a rule of thumb? For every decade of age, add one second to your following distance. The 56 year-old operator should have allowed five seconds between the motorcycle and the vehicle ahead. When the motorcyclist turns 60, allow six seconds? Might help!