Many motorcycle accidents, indeed most vehicle accidents, have a causation factor which can be traced back to a lowered awareness of a situation that is enfolding or that may potentially happen. This may be related to an awareness, of the rider or driver, of the weather and road conditions, traffic density, road structure and layout, etc, the list goes on.
One greatest type of awareness a rider can have is that of time; time of day, time of week, time of month, year, etc.
What does this mean! Well I have been trying to write this article for many months and it was actually a passing conversation with a friend of mine recently, that will enable me to explain this further.
My friend, who is a daily commuter on his motorcycle, said that he regularly leaves home early in the morning and arrives at work early, so that he can avoid the morning rush hour and all the increased vehicles and drivers rushing to get to work.
The point was well made. By leaving even 10 mins later or so, he would get caught in the traffic, where drivers may potentially be less observant, because they might be tired or because they are just so focussed on rushing to work that they might easily miss spotting a rider. All vehicles jostling for position, trying to make space or exploit it…or in some cases bully their way into making space.
By doing this, my friend was showing a heightened awareness of Time! The time of day which could cause more hazards and indeed hassle to his ride, so his best action was to attempt to avoid it in the first place.
Now obviously I know that not every rider can and will do this, and some will still be forced to ride in the rush hours and high traffic density, but the point is there are two options to consider.
- Avoid the Situation in the first place!
- Ride with a heightened awareness of the time of day and how that might influence other road users.
So now we can expand this further, not only to consider morning and evening rush hour, where there will be a high traffic density and potentially tired and less focussed drivers…and riders of course, but to other times of day.
- The morning and afternoon school run, and how parents can be distracted by children in the car and around the school itself.
- Lunchtime – An increased amount of activity as workers may quickly rush out to grab something.
- Commercial & Industrial Shift Changes – There might be a Industrial area where a large workforce may have a shift change at a certain point in the day. At and near the entrance there will be an increased traffic density. There might be a certain time where delivery lorries and trucks may all leave and return to the depot.
- Mid evening – Medium traffic density – as people venture out for the evening to pubs, restaurants, cinemas etc.
- Late evening – Medium to Low traffic density – as people return home from a night out…potentially very tired, potentially under the influence of alcohols or drugs etc.
I’m sure there are many more examples you can think of, but the key point is to have an awareness of the time and the environment in which you are riding, and how that can potentially develop hazards. This is where I talk about expecting the unexpected. Having this greater awareness will enable the rider to avoid situations or be more prepared to deal with them as and when they develop, or even before they develop.
Now let’s expand this further still.
Let’s consider the week! Monday – Friday, there are the rush hours and school runs, but at the weekend the traffic is more evenly distributed. The mornings are generally quieter, certainly on the main roads and motorways, but will get busier throughout the day.
Although traffic density is low, there is the potential that other drivers may be returning home after a long night partying, so fatigue…alcohol…drugs…‘may’ be a factor.
Early mornings, especially in rural areas where the roads are quite, will entice wildlife to emerge onto the roads which can be a serious hazard to riders.
Evenings at the weekend the roads will get busier, certainly around urban areas and again the rider should be ever vigilant of road users either going out for the evening or returning home after a long day out from the beach or park etc.
Let’s consider the time of year! Around the Christmas period and the run up to christmas, more people’s attention will be drawn to the festivities ahead and coupled with deteriorating weather conditions…in some places…this may reduce a driver’s and rider’s awareness of road hazards.
In the winter months as weather and road conditions deteriorate, then motorcycle and vehicle performance will reduce and vehicles may make erratic movements and drivers and riders may not be proficient in dealing with these conditions.
In the spring, as many riders welcome the improving weather and start to ride again after the winter layoff, there will be a lack of proficiency of riding skills. but also a drivers will not be used to the sudden surge of motorcycle traffic.
Around the holiday seasons or school summer holidays, more people will venture out for breaks away with the family, travel to airports…get on a plane, travel to ports…get on a boat, go camping, caravanning etc. The key word here is travel! Travelling to and from the destination with anticipation, stress and fatigue may be just enough to reduce awareness levels, and this is a potential hazard for any rider or driver.
The same process is applicable to single day holidays; bank holidays, national days, etc. Road users will go out for a long day away, and will be returning later in the day at the same time, probably suffering fatigue, the effects of the sun, dehydration, etc. All contributing to a reduced awareness.
Anytime a rider starts to ride, they need to consider TIME! Where they are riding! What time of day, week, month & year it is!
With this in mind, the rider is better equipped to be prepared for hazards on the roads. If this were more consciously considered by riders and all road users, then there would be a considerable reduction in accidents on the roads.