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BACK TO BASICS - HAVING AN ESCAPE PATH

by Jerry Palladino (MOTORMAN)

I was recently asked about how to avoid one of the most frequent types of motorcycle accidents, (the vehicle that turns left in front of you, violating your right of way, and what can you do about it).

This is a tough one, I am not trying to avoid the question, but the best answer is, it depends on the situation. If for instance, you are driving on a two land road, approaching an intersection where you spot a vehicle that you believe may pull out in front of you. First, you should be covering your brakes whenever there is a possibility that another vehicle may violate your right of way. For instance, if you are north bound and the vehicle is southbound and about to make a left hand turn, the best thing may be to first, brake hard then release the brakes and swerve to your left going around the back of the vehicle. Of course, if you are going slow enough to stop, do so and avoid the swerving maneuver.

A good idea is to practice the stop and swerve maneuver in a parking lot so that when this situation arises, you will know what to do. In this same situation, you are on a four or more lane road with a busy intersection you may have only one choice. That would be to stop prior to hitting the vehicle as swerving to the left could cause a head on collision with oncoming traffic and swerving to the right could cause a collision with a vehicle going the same direction with you.

In other words, if there is an escape path, make sure you turn your head and eyes to that escape path. Never become target fixated on the left turning vehicle or you will surely hit it. There is no hard and fast rule on this situation. The best thing to do is practice your braking. Concentrate on the front brake. Practice braking from 20mph to 60 or 70mph in a controlled environment, such as a deserted road or parking lot. In a panic situation, you will always revert to your training. If you never train, you will only have panic and dumb luck to rely on. Practice, practice, practice. Practice is the key.

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More articles by MOTORMAN:
Back to Basics Series:   About Jerry Palladino:
A "Motorman" is the term used in police circles to identify a motorcycle cop, or any law enforcement officer assigned to the motorcycle division. Prior to
becoming a Motor Officer, Jerry rode for enjoyment for about 25 years. Then one day, he saw a 5 minute segment on a television show which depicted motorcycle officers training on their Harley police bikes. The way these officers could maneuver these full size motorcycles around like a child's toy, made it appear as if they were defying gravity. At that moment, he knew that he had a lot to learn about riding a motorcycle. Shortly afterwards, the agency he worked for started a motorcycle unit. he was sent for training to Tallahassee with the highway patrol. The training consisted of 120 hours of intensive motorcycle training, focusing mainly on low speed handling. Jerry says, "When I finished this training, for the first time I really knew how to ride a motorcycle."
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