Pull from peril or move away from danger or any other phrase that essentially means that when you, as a rider, see a hazard or even a potential hazard…you do something about it. You move out of the way from it!
Not only should a rider adopt this tactic but also think ahead and consider the potential consequences of performing a particular manoeuvre or how riding in a manner or at a particular position may compromise safety.
This all seems like a lot to be thinking about when out and about riding your bike, but in many ways it’s about the consideration and application, and just simply thinking what can you do to keep you our of trouble.
Many of the accidents that repeatedly occur can be linked back to the rider not making allowances for potential hazards and not being proactive enough to avoid a developing hazard.
The following are just some common accident scenarios that can be avoided by either pulling away from peril and by creating space around you and other vehicles.
- Tailgating: By either riding too closely to the vehicle in front or having a vehicle following too closely behind, the rider has minimal time to react to a sudden change in circumstances. The faster the travelling speed the less margin for error and less time to react. Hold back from vehicles in front and let following vehicles pass by or temporarily speed up to create space.
- Riding near the middle of the road with oncoming vehicles approaching. As a vehicle approaches, move away from the path of that vehicle. Where you ride on the left (UK, Japan, Australia etc) that means move towards the left of your lane. Where you ride on the right (Americas, Europe etc) that means move towards the right of your lane.
- Riding near the mouth of a junction! As you ride and you see a road junction ahead or property drive entrances on the side of the road, then position you bike away from that to avoid any emerging vehicles. When riding on the left, and there is a junction on the left, then move to the right of the lane. If the junction is on the right then move to the left. When riding on the right, and there is a junction on the right, then move to the left of the lane and if there is a junction on the left, then move to the right of the lane.
- Don’t compromise safety! If by moving away from a particular or potential hazard you are riding near another emerging hazard, then choose a path in between, or slow down or maybe even stop. E.g., If riding on the left, there is an oncoming vehicle and also a junction on the left ahead, then choose a path in the middle of the lane or adjust speed and move slightly more to the left and be prepared for emerging traffic from the junction.
- Don’t overtake near junctions! If you see a vehicle ahead and you also see a junction just ahead, either on the left or right, then hold back and do not overtake until the junctions have been passed. If you attempt to overtake at a junction, you cannot foresee if any vehicles will suddenly emerge from the side junction or if the vehicle in front (that being overtaken) may make a sudden late turn into the junction. If the vehicle in front is indicating to turn, then hold back until they have completed the initial part of the turn. Be extra careful if there is a vehicle waiting to emerge from the junction, they may take the opportunity to emerge in front of the turning vehicle.
- Don’t go too wide on a sharp bend. A lot of accidents on sharp bends to the left on UK roads or bends to the right on European/US roads are where the rider has run too wide because the entry speed has been too high or the rider has held the outside line to get the best possible view but has not been able to avoid contact with an oncoming vehicle that has taken the inside line. On sharp bends, be conservative about taking the widest line to get the best possible view. Don’t be so strict on taking the outside line that it compromises safety or it leaves you no time to take sudden avoiding action.
- Approaching the brow of a hill, stay away from the middle of the road. When approaching a stretch of road that you cannot see the exit of, as with a sharp bend, avoid high speeds or riding in the middle of the road. Take a path towards the side of the lane, just in case an oncoming vehicle sudden appears in the middle of the road.
- Avoid rapid acceleration and harsh braking in bends. Make sure your approach speed is suitable for the bend and do most of your braking before the bend. Small corrections and braking can be made in the bend, and only accelerate on the exit of the bend. Try to brake and accelerate with the bike in a more upright position, which will make it more stable.
- Make adjustments for weather and road conditions. If the roads are wet or icy, then slow down and avoid excessive lean angles. Remember braking & tyre performance will reduce in these condition. Look at the road surface ahead and look for potholes or large cracks or debris or manhole covers and painted surfaces or any oil or fuel spills. Try to avoid these but if you must ride over these then do so in the upright position. Try to avoid these on bends as riding over these will seriously destabilise the ride.
- 10.Riding at excessive speeds on any road, but especially narrow roads with poor visibility of the road ahead and any emerging hazards from the sides of the road. Always ride at a speed that allows you to detect a hazard and be able to take avoiding action or be able to stop beforehand.
- 11.Making high speed overtakes with high traffic density and with oncoming vehicles. Trying to squeeze through a gap at high speed and sweeping in and out of traffic, seriously reduces the margin for error and does not allow for errors of other road users and does not allow other road users enough time to take avoiding action of you if appropriate.
- 12.High speed filtering/lane splitting and overtaking of queuing traffic. Vehicles in queuing or stationary traffic may sudden change lanes or turn off to take an exit or perform a U Turn, in doing so move into the path you are travelling in. Slow down and always be prepared for vehicles that may suddenly change direction and pay attention to other vehicles at side junctions or property entrances that may suddenly emerge to take advantage of a small gap that has appeared in the traffic.
These examples are really only a small selection and in truth there is no absolute definitive answer to many of the scenarios. It is, I suppose, a matter of taking the path of least resistance without impinging too much on safety or so much that you are unable to deal with a hazard or avoid it.
When someone talks about riding or driving defensively, it is really about risk management and having strategies that minimise hazard potential, i.e. Avoiding a situation before it develops and if it does, having an extra margin already in place that enables you to deal with a situation relatively easily. Then all that is left is to maintain a proficiency to deal with those ‘emergency’ situations, which in reality should hardly ever present themselves.
If the rider is constantly looking for developing or potential hazards and is taking active steps to avoid them or not create them, then ultimately the ride will more free, smoother and less frustrating.
On a final note, keep this in mind. If when next riding and for example another vehicle suddenly pulls across your path or emerges from a junction in front of you, but you were prepared for it and were able to deal with it or successfully took avoiding action, then the winner is you…and always you! In those situations it would be very easy to get angry and frustrated at the other driver, but instead you should be happy that you could deal with a situation successfully and you were not involved in an accident…which ultimately is the point of this article.