Motorcycling Hazards!

As for motorcycling hazards, there are obviously many, and even minor hazards can have major consequences in the right circumstances.

Many will claim that the greatest hazard to a rider is at junctions and intersections, but whilst there is some truth as illustrated by some statistics, it does not tell the whole truth.

Many will claim the greatest hazard is the other road user…‘The Driver’!

Others prefer to focus on deteriorating weather, poor road surface, poor driving practices…but seldom do we collectively focus on the rider him/herself as the major hazard.

My experience shows me that there are five main hazardous areas for riders:

On Rural Bends – Usually at higher speeds & higher powered machines

At Rural Junctions – Usually at higher Speed & higher powered machines

At Urban Junctions – Usually at lower speed & including lower powered machines

During Overtaking

Low & High Speed Filtering

However the major hazards for motorcyclists is not so much the situation they find themselves or will encounter, but moreover the rider’s approach and awareness of the situation and the inability to avoid the developing hazard.

The major hazards that have caused motorcycle accidents are primarily concerned with the following…and some of these can apply to riders as well as drivers but are in no particular order.

Poor Observation – Of traffic density and road layout.

Distraction – Either by in car or on bike affects that reduce concentration levels

Lack of experience or recent riding experience – Many accidents involve low time riders or riders who have not ridden in some time…usually after the winter lay off.

Fatigue & Dehydration – Especially during the holiday seasons or around bank holidays

Low appreciation of weather affects – on road surface, on motorcycle performance and rider physiological performance.

Poor Road Positioning – Either by tailgating, cutting corners, riding too close to oncoming traffic or too near the nearside when approaching junctions.

Inappropriate Speeds for the road type, conditions & time of day – This does not necessarily mean overly excessive speeds but merely too great to avoid being involved in a collision and a very common example is the entry speed into a bend, either causing the rider to run wide and leave the carriageway or collide with an oncoming vehicle.

Low awareness of developing and potential hazards – not recognising the tell tale signs of hazard development and not expecting the unexpected.

Over confidence & lack of consideration of other road users – Being confident is important but not at the expense of ignoring the implications and consequences for all road users.

Poor Road Reading – Not factoring for changeable road surface e.g. mud & ice or potholes & debris, and not factoring for changes in road routing or not reading road signs properly.

Whilst there are multiple hazards which are perfectly manageable and there is a low probability of having a motorcycle accident, any rider who does not factor for those hazards and adapts riding styles and practices to suit, will inevitably increase that probability. The level of injury is then directly linked to the speed of collision, the type and density of the collision objects and the angle at which it is hit and of course the level of protective equipment that is worn does factor in certain situations.

Ultimately at some point there has been human error, either by the rider alone or, jointly or solely by another road user. There has been poor decision making and poor manipulation of controls that have led to a collision.

The real hazards are mainly due to the approach to riding and dealing with and avoiding hazards, rather than the hazard itself being the issue.

Risk & hazard management is really about identifying hazards and hazardous scenarios and then having a contingency to deal with them or avoid them.

The rider should not let a hazard take them by surprise and be caught out by it. Always have a plan, be prepared to deal with a situation and focus on executing that plan. ‘Plan for the worst and hope for the best’

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