...from January 2018: Bill Wren Safety Corner
Vulnerability by Phillip Waguespack
As motorcyclists, we are inherently more vulnerable to injury in an accident than when in a car. This is somewhat offset by increased maneuverability and smaller size, combined with our moment to moment awareness of the environment allowing us to avoid accidents more readily than cars and trucks. We can further enhance our ability to avoid accidents by increasing our conspicuity with lighting, eye-catching clothing and riding in ways to attract attention such as moving from side to side in our traffic lane. Additionally, we can increase survivability in a crash with safety gear like helmets, boots and armored clothing.
There is, however, a situation in which we are most vulnerable and not as able to use the maneuverability of our bikes. That is when we are stopped at a traffic signal. Distracted or inattentive drivers may not see us until they feel and hear the crash in progress.
The ideal solution to this problem is of course to keep moving and avoid stops altogether. Unfortunately, real world conditions most often make this impossible. You can, however, reduce the number of stops on a given ride by increasing your awareness of traffic patterns and noticing traffic signals sooner. By doing so you can adjust your speed so as to spend as little time actually stopped as possible. In addition, slowing earlier and using those fancy flashing brake lights increases visibility and cause drivers to see you earlier.
When you get to the point of stopping in traffic, always leave a cushion of space between your bike and the car in front of you, keep an eye on traffic behind you and have an escape route in mind. Try to stop on a bit of an angle with your front wheel pointed toward safety, be it the break down lane or the space between two cars in front of you so that you can use them as barriers for the oncoming car to crash into. Not only does this get you pointed in the direction of safety, it increases your visibility by presenting more of the bike to the driver’s field of vision.
As always, remember that you are the invisible gorilla and have a good ride.
...from October 2017 Bill Wren SAFETY CORNER
The Invisible Gorilla by Phillip Waguespack
Have you ever had the experience of a driver looking straight at you then pulling out in front of you and causing you to have to take evasive action to avoid a crash? Well the Invisible Gorilla is the term I use to describe this phenomenon. It comes from a book by that title in which the authors Daniel Simons and Christopher Levin discuss in attentional blindness to explain why we as humans are not capable of multi-tasking, (that is, paying attention to more than one thing at a time). They devised an experiment in which they filmed two teams of basketball players, one in white and the other in black. Test subjects watching the film are told to count the number of passes the white team makes. For about 9 or 10 seconds in the middle of this 60 second video, a person dressed in a gorilla suit walks into the game, pounds his chest then turns and walks off.
This experiment has been run thousands of times around the world and consistently about ½ of the people viewing it never see the gorilla even though they are looking right at the screen. The simple reason is that they were not looking for gorillas, only basketball players. You can see an excellent example of this experiment on you tube. It is called the monkey business illusion and will demonstrate the principle convincingly. Similarly with drivers, they are looking for cars and trucks, not motorcycles and they can look directly at us, and gorillas for that matter, and never see us. Most of the time this is not a problem; we pass right on by without incident. But on those occasions when the timing is right, they end up turning right in front of or even into the motorcycle.
In addition, I recently read an article in Rider magazine describing why even if the driver does see a motorcycle, he might pull out anyway. It has to do with the way our brains have evolved to deal with threat assessment. First, larger objects are instinctively recognized as posing a greater threat than smaller ones, so that it is much easier to notice a semi and yield to it than a motorcycle which presents a much smaller profile. Studies also show that we perceive larger objects as being closer to us than smaller ones and ,if they are moving, anticipate their arrival at our position to be much sooner than smaller ones. So not only do drivers see the truck earlier, they see it as moving faster than the motorcycle and so will pull out or turn in front of the bike and not the semi. That’s right, even when we are seen we are not accounted for.
So what to do: First, and most important, maintain your moment to moment awareness of the environment and assume that bad things are in the offing. Scan the environment in front, beside and behind you constantly. Look ahead to intersections before you get there and adjust your speed and position in the lane accordingly. Think about an escape route in case an emergency situation arises. Second, make yourself and your bike as visible as possible, add lighting to the front of the bike to make it look bigger, and flashing break lights to the back to gain more attention. Wear high visibility clothing to make yourself more visible. If you are riding alone, keeping up a gentle weave in your lane makes you more noticeable and makes drivers a little uneasy so that they won’t forget you are there. As always remember that you are the Invisible Gorilla. Ride like no one sees you. Phillip asks for any Questions or comments.
Bobbi Aitken stated by talking with children about motorcycles; when they start driving they will be more aware of motorcycles, it also will make the parents more aware.
John Kandes stated that 92% of the motorcycle accidents, the rider froze up and was not able to make an attempt to avoid an accident.
...from August 2017 - Bill Wren SAFETY CORNER
Interstate Riding Suggested by Larry Cochran
When riding on the interstate it might seem that doing the speed limit and staying in the right lane is the safest approach. But as Larry can attest, this can leave you vulnerable to attack from behind. A while ago he was riding to Saturday morning breakfast doing 70 in the right lane when he was hit from behind. He spent quite a long time (35 days) in the hospital and months going to rehab. We are lucky that he is healthy and still riding with us today.
In my opinion the safer option is to ride in the middle or left lane and at a speed that is a little faster than the general flow of traffic. Under normal circumstances, I favor 77 to 78 mph in a 70 mile an hour zone. I have ridden past countless police cars and never been stopped at that speed. Of course traffic and weather conditions must be factored in and your moment to moment awareness that you are the invisible gorilla still applies. Principally you need to continue to check for fast moving traffic coming up behind you. Try not to ride next to anyone if you can avoid it, especially large trucks, and never stay in anyone’s blind spot. If you are riding with a partner or group and are passing a car going near your speed, accelerate and pull up past the car far enough that you leave space for the bikes behind you to get in comfortably. It is a very bad feeling to be left hanging with no place to go.
In general, the effect is that going a little faster than the average speed of traffic will help to put a bit of a cushion between you and distracted drivers texting vitally important details about recently consumed hamburgers and beer to all of their friends.
Any comments or concerns, Bob Poneleit stated that your odometer can run anywhere between 5 to 10 miles slower than your actual speed. It’s also good to look at the wheels on the vehicle that you are attempting to pass that they are not going to be coming into your lane.
Janet Granger stated that almost all of her trip was Interstate riding, it’s very important to keep hydrated the camel pack was very helpful and take breaks; you need to take breaks to help you stay focused and alert. The highlights were the Barber Motor Sport Museum in Alabama, and the Harley Museum in Milwaukee.
...from June 15th Bill Wren SAFETY CORNER
Group Riding; A basic review, by Phil Waguespack
1. Arrive early with a full tank on your bike and an empty bladder if possible. Carry a cell phone, a basic first aid kit, and a group riding mind set.
2. Attend and listen to the pre-ride meeting for general route information and instructions from the Ride Captain on how he wants to handle the group for that ride in particular. Now is the time to speak up to make requests for favorite rest stops or a particular position in the group.
3. Ride in a staggered formation with the Leader on the left. Keep about a 2 second gap between you and the bike directly in front of you and about a 1 second gap from the rider to your right front. When in congested areas with lots of lights, you can tighten the formation a little, and out in the country with little traffic loosen it up a bit. As always, twisty roads and turns require a single file. Phil has copies of MSF hand signals.
4. Now we come to the change in the MSF recommendations, regarding what to do if a rider drops out of the formation. Formerly the recommendation was for the rider directly behind to pull forward and take that slot, with each rider in that row moving up one position with no crisscrossing. If you found yourself with an open position beside you, you were to wave the next rider to come forward to fill the open position. The MSF now says that creates a hazard by having bikes passing too closely when one moves forward. They now recommend that the rider to the side and behind the leaving rider cross over to take that position with all riders behind crossing to fill the gaps. This seems to me to be more hazardous than simply moving ahead in the previous manner. This is an issue that should be addressed and made very clear at each pre-ride meeting to avoid potential accidents.
5. Don’t ride beyond your comfort level. Each rider should periodically check their mirrors to see if anyone has fallen behind. If so, slow down to let them catch up. If everyone does this the group will maintain a good pace without pressuring anyone to ride faster than their comfort level.
6. If you are separated from the group by a light or traffic, (and I recommend you let the car who is trying to cut into the group do so. They may not be courteous or right, but you will pay the price if they push you off the road.) don’t panic and speed up or take chances to catch up. The group will either slow down or wait for you along the roadside before the next turn.
...from May 18th Hap's General Meeting
Bill Wren SAFETY CORNER: by Phil Waguespack
CDC Motor Vehicle Safety - Motorcycle Safety 2013
Motorcycle crash deaths are costly, but preventable. The single most effective way for states to save lives and save money is a universal helmet law.
Helmets saved an estimated 1,630 lives and $2.8 billion in economic costs in 2013.
The United States could have saved an additional $1.1 billion in 2013 if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
Helmets reduce the risk of death by 37%.
Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69%.
“Our role is to identify ways to prevent injury and death and rigorously check what works and what does not work. For motorcycle safety, the research shows that universal helmet laws are the most effective way to reduce the number of deaths and traumatic brain injuries that result from crashes.”
Dr. Thomas Frieden, CDC Director
Task Force Finding
The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends universal motorcycle helmet laws (laws that apply to all motorcycle operators and passengers) based on strong evidence of effectiveness. Evidence indicates that universal helmet laws increase helmet use; decrease motorcycle-related fatal and non-fatal injuries; and are substantially more effective than no law or than partial motorcycle helmet laws, which apply only to riders who are young, novices, or have medical insurance coverage below certain thresholds.
States in the U.S. that repealed universal helmet laws and replaced them with partial laws or no law consistently experienced substantial:
Decreases in helmet use, and
Increases in fatal and non-fatal injuries.
States that implemented universal helmet laws in place of partial laws or no law consistently experienced substantial:
Increases in helmet use, and
Decreases in fatal and non-fatal injuries.
These beneficial effects of universal helmet laws extended to riders of all ages, including younger operators and passengers who would have been covered by partial helmet laws.
Economic evidence shows that universal motorcycle helmet laws produce substantial economic benefits that greatly exceed costs. Most benefits come from averted healthcare and productivity losses.
Read the full Task Force Finding and Rationale Statement for more detailed information on the finding, including implementation issues, potential benefits and harms, and evidence gaps.
In the U.S., motorcycles account for about 3% of registered vehicles, 0.6% of vehicle miles traveled, and a disproportionate 14% of all road traffic fatalities (DOT, 2013).