Road Surface Hazards
Road surface hazards are a pretty common reason why people crash. Typically you see people blaming the gravel on the road or uneven surfaces. Of course, we all know that is a common cause of a crash, but crashes happen because of many factors combined into one bad accident.
Here are the things I'd be looking out for—definitely gravel, but also road debris. You typically see these items in the middle of a curve or an intersection during a left-hand or right-hand turn. Think about where water run-off goes, and you will find gravel.
Road debris can be found everywhere. If some tire tread was torn off a vehicle, it could be in the middle of the road. Boxes and other items fall out of the bed of a truck. A long piece of cardboard or 2x4 can cause significant havoc.
Our main goal is to avoid hitting the road surface hazards in the first place. If you do not pay attention, you will not see them when they pose a threat. So, you can first zone in and be default yellow stage. The next is to apply the PLAN Method to every moment of your ride.
Emergency braking is typically the thing that most people think about when trying to avoid a crash. However, that is thinking like a four-wheel vehicle driver and not a motorcycle rider. Motorcycles are agile, and utilizing the strength of a bike is essential when thinking about emergencies. In addition, swerving is an excellent way of avoiding road surface hazards and large objects like the side of a vehicle.
In most parts of the United States, Lane filtering is not legal. Many people do not practice the skillset of going in between vehicles; therefore, an escape path isn't typically considered an option. But we do see this happen quite a bit in California and other parts of the world, so let's think about this for a second. All we need is the narrow gap between vehicles to escape a potentially dangerous situation. Imagine a line of cars in front of you all slamming the brakes or all stopped, and you did not notice this because you were not paying attention. Your total stopping distance is hugely shortened, and you will not stop in time even with the best Progressive break. What do you do? You really only have two options. You either crash into the back of the vehicle or swerve and use a lane filtering position as your escape path.
Always maintain a good space cushion. With a large space cushion, you can make better decisions in an emergency. Do not think emergency braking is your only tool. Use your eyes, the motorcycle's agility, practice swerving, and find that escape path.
Isn't it kind of weird how civil engineers and the designers of the roads you ride on want to warn you of potential hazards? But, of course, that's just me being sarcastic. There are plenty of signs on the road that will indicate things that typically harm motorcycle riders. Sharp curves, intersections, pedestrian crossings, pretty much anything that is a yellow sign in the United States.
When we are looking far ahead and scanning the horizon for road surface hazards and possible escape paths, keep your eyes open for warning signs. Treat them as though it is a warning sign about potential dangers, just like a video game user interface telling you where to go next.
Intersections, interstate merging areas, and stopping at red lights are dangerous. These situations are not problematic by themselves. We can handle all these situations pretty well if it is just us. However, once another vehicle enters the picture, things can become dangerous.
Typically at intersections, somebody turns left in front of us while trying to go through that intersection. That does not leave enough room for us to do anything other than swerving. So keep your eyes open for anybody wanting to go in front of your lane, like left turners.
Merging areas, like freeways or if you are next to somebody driving the same path of travel can be dangerous. Car drivers typically do not look for motorcycles because they are so focused on looking for other cars. Do not hang in people's blind spots; if you see yourself intersecting with somebody, just let them have your lane. Do not fight for it.
Next time you are out riding your motorcycle or even walking your dog. Practice the PLAN Method, Zone In, and find those escape paths. Obviously, don't get hit by another car.
Ride SAFE & Ride SMART,