A common theme weaving its way through accident scenes is where basic errors have been made and basic errors were not recognised by riders or drivers, which ultimately led to an accident.
This is so common that it was the inspiration for a rider awareness sub campaign I launched last year called: “I SEE YOU!…DO YOU SEE ME?” This is aimed at riders to identify their own riding standards & actions and their affects on other road users and also identify the standards & actions of other road users and how those might affect the rider & motorcycle stability.
There are two fundamental issues here, in that, we assume that drivers should not be making errors and we are generally not expecting things to go wrong! It is the lack of preparation for error making, an over expectation that mistakes will not be made and an overestimation in our own abilities and capabilities of dealing with emergencies.
This expectation misinterpretation is consistently found in both single & multi vehicle accidents and something that I frequently witness when attending motorcycle collisions. E.g. A rider is overtaking slow moving or stationary traffic and does not appreciate they might be riding in a driver’s blind spot. The rider also does not factor for a driver that cannot get a clear view or does not even look properly. The result is that a driver suddenly turns right across the rider’s path, either wishing to turn into a side road or perform a U-turn and ends in a collision.
This same contributing factor is found with virtually every accident scenario you can think of, whether it’s at a junction, an overtake, on a bend, etc…at some point someone has made a mistake…from minor to major which set off a chain of events which result in a collision that was unavoidable or one that could not be avoided by the rider or driver involved.
So why is there such a low expectation that things can go wrong and believe that actions will not result in a negative consequences? Well…it’s partly within us…it’s part psychological & part physiological. We are prone to making mistakes but we’ll also believe that errors are the curse of others. But it is also part conditioning…from initial training to advanced, from novice to experienced…we tend not to focus on whatever the worst scenario might be, but rather we’ll view our riding world through optimistic eyes.
So how can we raise our expectation of the negatives? Well. individually we can place greater emphasis on our own riding standards and behaviours but also analyse the actions of other road users with greater scrutiny. We can all gather more information about our current or future riding environment and have a greater library of negative scenarios to reference. If we know what to expect and are prepared to deal with those situations, then we’ll be more successful in dealing with them. It is ultimately about gaining more knowledge and engaging with more scenario based training.
So that’s our part taken care of…so what about drivers and other road users? Well the same principle can be applied to all and the greatest challenge will be to develop this thought process throughout. In the end, it is about making the correct decisions and informed choices and all it requires is more emphasis in training, recurrent training and testing standards and more widespread public information streams on the subject…now that’s something to lobby for!
Whenever I ride…or drive, I’m making a constant assessment of my riding environment and making my riding security my responsibility and persistently asking myself: “I SEE YOU!…DO YOU SEE ME?”