Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Failure to Negotiate

Failure to Negotiate

Two fatal crashes.

30-year old man, driving a 2002 Suzuki G60, failed to negotiate a turn in a two-lane highway. His motorcycle left the road, striking a telephone pole, throwing the man into a field. Helmet use, unknown. Speed, unknown. No other vehicles or persons involved in the crash.

76-year old man, driving a 1989 Kawasaki Ninja, failed to negotiate a right-hand turn in a two-lane highway. His motorcycle traveled across the oncoming lane, left the road, and crashed down a steep embankment. The man was wearing a helmet and protective clothing. Witnesses said the man was the lead rider of a group of six motorcycles. He had over 40 years of riding experience.

Lessons Learned

The news articles are sparse on details. What can cause a rider to lose control in a turn? Let's start with the basics.

1) Speed.

Riding too fast makes it very difficult to make a turn. Too fast means too fast for the conditions. Look for red flags of danger that can signal the need to slow down:

- heavy traffic
- narrow or winding roadway
- rough roadway
- wet, windy, or icy roadway

Nothing in the news report gives a hint that excessive speed influenced these crashes. What else might?

2) Sleep.

This seems a likely suspect, at least for the second, more experienced rider. The leader of the pack crashed at about 11:45 AM, just before lunchtime. I've been there. Meet the other riders at 10:00 AM for an easy 2-hour ride to a diner for lunch, and then back home.

I've always found it difficult to stay awake while driving a car. Seems like an hour or so is all it takes for me to get sleepy, no matter how interesting the view or how twisty the road. It begins with realizing that I don't remember the last few miles - it's like I spent the last five minutes daydreaming. If I don't stop at that point and take a short walk or use the restroom, it gets worse. My eyes go in and out of focus, and I shudder or shake my head, attempting to stay alert.

That's a red flag.

Take a break every hour, at least.

Stop when you start shuddering or shaking your head.

Don't ride sleepy.

Negotiate the turns.

Reference Links



Monday, May 10, 2010

Motorcycle Crash: Eagle Creek

Motorcycle Crash: Eagle Creek

62-year-old man crashed his 1975 Harley Davidson, attempting to pass a turning vehicle on the right side. The motorcycle's front tire went off the abrupt pavement edge, flipping and ejecting the operator.

The motorcyclist was wearing a helmet, but received serious injuries and was transported by helicopter to the hospital.

Lessons Learned

Motorcyclists cannot be impatient. Any action based on a desire to save time, or for the sake of convenience, must raise a red flag of alert: SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT!

Passing on the right is illegal for a reason. It is an unexpected action, and it causes other vehicle operators to react unexpectedly. Even emergency vehicles, with the lawful right to pass on the right, have experienced crashes when the operator they are passing reacts unexpectedly, veering hard to the right just as the passing vehicle comes close.

In this instance, the right side of the highway was abruptly elevated above a steeply sloping embankment...there wasn't room for the motorcyclist to safely pass. Passing on the right requires the operator to maintain distance between two moving objects: the car on the left, and the embankment on the right.

Bottom line: stay calm, stay legal, and pass on the left.

The motorcycle crashed on May 2, 2010, at about 4 PM. This month is "Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month", with Oregon joining with other federal, state and local highway safety and law enforcement organizations in a nationwide campaign designed to raise awareness about sharing the road with motorcyclists.

More information about "Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month" is available on ODOT's website at http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/nr10042301.shtml.

For more information about "Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month", contact Christine Miles at (503) 969-1107.

Reference Links