8 Ball In The Wind

Monday, April 28, 2014

That "Oh Shit" Moment

I heard tonight about another motorcyclist getting killed by a vehicle turning left in front of him.  It really gets me when the government pushes for mandatory helmets but downplays the effectiveness of training to learn how to avoid a crash.  Or at least to mediate the impact if possible.  As well as discounting what factors the neglect of the rest of the motoring public has in regards to being aware that motorcycles (or any vehicle) are even on the road pror to making a turn across traffic.

I truly believe it is partly due to the difficulty of knowing whether someone involved in a crash, or who was a fatality in a crash, had taken some sort of rider education course or not.  So with little information, to go on, I can see how statistically it might seem insignificant.

The helmet mandators have a formula that uses 'potential' lives saved as a factor in finding how many lives were saved by helmets.  Yet I have been unable to find a verifiable study that shows how that factor was analyzed and verified.  Doesn't it sound much more logical to train riders to watch for and avoid possible crash scenarios, than to simply mandate they wear a helmet on their head?

I have watched numerous videos of motorcycle crashes over the last few months.  One of the things that seems to be most obvious about many of them, is the amount of time between the rider first realizes there is a hazard and the actual crash.  Several seconds go by, with the rider doing nothing more than applying their brakes.  Most of the videos I have watched have the same lack of any avoidance attempt in common.  A Motorcycle is a very manueverable vehicle.  With several seconds of warning, in many cases a simple lane change would have avoided the crash.  But the only action the riders take is to apply their brakes.  As if they have already resigned themselves to crashing, and only want to slow down the impact.

Try it yourself.  Go on to youtube, and search motorcycle crashes.  See for yourself how few actually seem to even try to avoid the impact.  I am by no means saying that all crashes are avoidable.  I wish they were.  I would have many friends still riding with me to this day if that was the case.  But if riders were given the skills to at least be able to try to avoid a collision, a number of crashes would not happen.

The government on the other hand, believes if you ride a motorcycle you are going to crash.  That simply by riding a motorcycle you have doomed yourself to some horrendous bit of roadway mayhem, and that only by wearing a helmet can you survive.  While I agree (to a point) that if you ride enough, over time you will lay a bike down.  That does not necessarily mean you are getting in a crash.

When I speak of crashes, I am speaking of impacts with something other than the road.  Sometimes, laying the bike down is the safest way to avoid a "crash".  But to simply keep riding directly at a vehicle for several seconds while applying the brakes, and saying repeatedly; "OH SHIT", isn't trying to avoid a crash.

I know when I ride, I am constantly looking for escape routes, and places to move to incase of an emergency.  The worse thing you can do is to get 'target fixation' on the vehicle in front of you.  Because you won't even realize you need to avoid it until it is too late.  Having the proper mindset, and thinking about exit strategies while riding.  Knowing how to counter steer to avoid or lessen an impact are all skills that will help you in an emergency.  Just relying on wearing a helmet to keep you alive when you crash, and not doing anything to try to avoid it, is purely moronic in my opinion.

As I said, it would be very interesting to see a study done that compares a number of factors;  whether or not the rider was wearing the helmet, whether the rider had taken any form of rider education training, and whether the rider did anything to avoid the crash in the first place, and of course whether there were any head trauma or head trauma related fatalities.  I truly think it would be an enlightening study.  That is also why I do not expect to ever see such a study taking place.  It would not fit neatly into the governments push to control our lives in every way possible.

Catch you on the road sometime...

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