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#1 Ken Ulrich

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 07:07 PM

I think this will be a thread with a lot of replys, First off I would like to dedicate this to Wally, as it is his loss, that started me thinking about this all week.
   as most know from my ramblings, I am a retired commerical pilot, and in the airlines, training and the safety aspects of the job are a constant...never ends...But in reality, pilots are like every one else and we tend to get complacent, in spite of constant efforts to the contrary. And yet enough soaks in, that we tend to keep our eyes open a bit more.  The following is an example;
On about the 4th or fifth take off of the day, while in position next to the runway, the tower said cleared for take-off, I glanced up to see a boeing 707 about 800-1000  feet on final.  The co-pilot who was handling the radio and was going to fly the leg,  replied cleared to go and then looked at me, questioning why I wasn't releasing the brakes, I pointed with my finger at the boeing, he looked and turned back getting red in the face. I said nothing to him or the tower, I waited for the boeing to land and clear the runway, then departed, the tower then said to switch to departure, paused and said thanks...( read between the lines) The co-pilot was apologetic...I passed it off and figured we both learned a lesson, later in the month we had a long lay-over and talked about it over a beer, I think I learned as much or more that he from the incident. It changed the way I drive a car and bike. Today I was waiting at a red light, was going to make a left turn, the lite turned green, I glanced left and right, from the right, a car driven by a man, probably 45-50 Year old, run thru the light at about 55mph, with a cell phone plastered to his ear. I asked myself the question, how many of the guys look left and right, or use the green lite as the final initiation to go? On a bike if I had used the lite, ,I would be gone. As an old phart, I keep prodding myself that I am not 20, and fast as a speeding bullet anymore. I have a lot of years on bikes...to grow complacent! I don't want to be the only one to contribute to this safety effort, how about some good discussion, give and take, to make this group as safety minded, as any in the world....I think Wally would like that....Ken

#2 Ragman

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 07:44 PM

I have safety foremost in my mind at all times. This being said, I am still able to make mistakes, some of which have been critical.  There are zones of attention that we use, even if we do not know it, or them.  The first zone, the White zone, is where most complacent people in society reside all the time - in that zone, they are unaware of anything that is happening around them, and can be considered worse than tunnel vision.  The next zone, is the Yellow zone - a place where basic awareness exists, but no concern over things out of vision.  Then comes the Orange zone - the person in that zone of awareness sees everything around them, and looks for the potentially dangerous. This is the zone EVERY person in control of a vehicle should be in all the time, but it is not.  The next zone, is the Red zone - where we are primed to do the thing to make survival occur.

My training has taught me to be in the Orange zone all the time, and the Yellow, only when locked in my home, asleep.  It works pretty well.

On the second safety front, there is the practice of personal safety, which is apparently ignored by most people on motorcycles.  Protective clothing, and at least an open face helmet, with full visor, are essential - if you come off a rig, be it one wheel, two wheel, three wheel or four wheel, it is going to hurt less, if you keep your head intact, and the blood keeps inside your skin.  At 10mph, hitting tarmac will take the skin off your hands, if you put your hands down to protect you.. at 20mph, your hands will be severely damaged, as will any other skin skidding along the pavement. At 45mph, BONE will be exposed,  by the time you stop sliding along. At 70mph, you disintergrate.

All of the above damage can be eliminated by wearing adequate protective clothing and helmet.  Motorcycle racers spill on the track, at over 100mph, and slide for a LONG time on the protective gear they HAVE to wear.  Most times, if nothing hits them, and they don't abruptly stop moving because of something hard, they get up, look confused and wander around.

Protective clothing saves lives, Full face helmets save lives, but the biggest saver of life anywhere, is the awareness of the danger that could kill you.

I hope that I do not come to this site again, and see the terrible news that one of you died.  I do not mind admitting that Wally's death knocked the wind out of me - I was truly shocked, which does not happen very often. I am no stranger to deaths around me, but Wally - 500,000 km, and gets killed by an inattentive woman.  That really hurt me deeply, because if a man with so much experience gets hit by a car, what chance do the rest of us have..  BE ALERT, it is the only way to keep alive.


The chances of dying on an open vehicle, with you rapped round the vehicle, not in it, are very much higher than you would realize.  Just because nothing has hit you yet, doesn't mean there could not be one over the next hill, or round the corner. Remember, all the cages out there are full of people in the White Zone - they have no clue where you are at, and will hit you without even seeing you.
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#3 PeteT

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 08:42 PM

Greetings, all!

    Like all humanoids, I too tend to become complacent.  After a while, we all start to do things from habit (drives the wife crazy :D ).  I learned a long time ago that you can't give what you're doing 100% concentration 100% of the time, the best thing you can do is to form good habits which will become your "default mode".   When working on aircraft, if I have to open a door or panel I always try to return to it before I leave the plane and physically touch it- just to convince myself that I'd closed it.  I get really bothered later if I don't do this.... did I REALLY close that equipment door :huh: ?  So far, this habit has worked for me.  In 20 years I've never left an engine oil cap off or an e/e door open (knock on wood!).  I've been riding street bikes since the early 1970's, and even though I've never attended a safety course I've picked up a few survival habits.

   When I first began riding, I was commuting 100 miles a day to and from college on a 350 Honda, usually in the winter and in bad weather.  There was a stretch of four lane highway that had many stop sign controled crossings- and had a reputation for accidents.  As I understood it- the trick was to be seen.  I made a point of riding with the headlight on, and wearing yellow rainclothes.  Had people pull out in front of me even though we had established eye contact.  Got into the habit of going through the intersections in close formation with a semi-truck- end of problem.  Seems very few people are willing to pull out in front of a speeding semi just to cut a bike off B) .  Later I figured out that most drivers, due to the limited processing ability of their reptile-like brains, use the distance between approaching headlights to gauge their distance.  The wider they are apart, the closer they are.  Of course a single headlight on a bike looks supprisingly like a car a long ways away- especially in bad weather and to a driver who's operating at about a 10% attention level.

    Later in life, I moved to Arizona... which brought new and different hazards to be contended with.  This area tended to be populated in the winter months with "cronologically challenged" folks from the cold country, iE: "Snowbirds".  Some of these folks were long past their driving prime... but they all seemed to share the same idea: if you have a big enough car.... and drive no faster than eight miles an hour, you can go anywhere you want, any time you want, irregardless of traffic or stopsigns.  I quickly developed the habit of driving as close to the middle of the street as possible while riding in town.  Hazards such as pets, small children, and Grannie with her four thousand pound Buick usually enter the road suddenly from the right (unless you're in England or one of her former colonies).  By putting as much space between yourself and the right curb as possible, you greatly increase your ability to see danger coming, and the time and space available to avoid it.  

    These tactics will probably get me flamed by the professional safety gurus, but I like to live dangerously :surprise: !
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#4 Mud Pie

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 08:52 PM

The one lesson I learned was from a co-worker.  He was first in line at a red light, both feet on the road.  He had it in first gear, clutch in, and was blipping the throttle, waiting for the light to change.

His clutch cable snapped, he lurched forward right into a passing car.

Fortunately he lived, only had a few broken bones.

Lesson I learned ?  Keep it in neutral until the light changes !
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#5 Ken Ulrich

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 09:16 PM

Congratulations, these are the kind of things we need to jog memorys and improve our defences, I would like to suggest that, don't limit yourself to one post, if all this prevents  just one incident....its well worth it......Ken

#6 Baxter's driver

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 10:11 PM

Keep moving your eyeballs in search mode.  In multi-lanes arterials I ride in inside (leftmost) lane.  Why?  Keeps me away from the driveways on the right and the center turn lane offers a refuge if needed.

When in doubt, cover the front brake.  That means when vehicles are on sidestreets, going through signalized intersections, at dusk in deer country, etc.

At stoplights, I stay in first gear and watch my rearview mirrors.

Heck with eye contact, look at the front wheels.  If they begin to turn, you'll see it immediately, and can take appropriate corrective action.

Practice proper cornering lines on mountain roads.  That means delayed apexes and hanging off the bike.

And finally as I came to Urals from sportbikes, it's AGATT for me (all gear, all the time) which means fullface helmet, armored jacket and pants, motorcycle boots, and gloves.
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#7 Ragman

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 10:26 PM

Snowbirds do tend to be worrisome - being a very young one myself, gets me into the spaces occupied by the dopy ones..  They truly are dangerous, and a lot of them have a shiny Harley in a trailer behind the curiously dented $400K motorhome.  They scare the daylights out of everyone - usually riding with limited experience, no protective gear, and no common sense. If you, on a Bike, see one coming, hope that they don't see you, or target fixation will occur, and they will run right into you.

The most important saftey rule, is, without doubt, go take a safety course.  I had ridden for many hundreds of thousands of miles, prior to going on a safety course, and I learned plenty.
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#8 PeteT

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Posted 09 October 2006 - 11:53 PM

Mylash, do you know how to tell it's the first day of the "Snowbird Season" in Apache Junction, AZ?.......

Picture this:  Main street.  Four lanes, with left turn lane in the middle.  Along the right side is a sidewalk, and behind that are places to park.  I was riding my mountain bike when I saw a full size Ford four door pull slowly out of one of the parking spaces, slowly cross the low spot in the sidewalk, make a hard right turn into the right lane, and plow slowly into the back of the pickup that was waiting at the red light.  Never exceeded three miles an hour.  The year's first confirmed Snowbird sighting- September first.

Here in Las Vegas we have a different problem.  Red lights are considered more of a challenge that a means of regulating traffic flow.  I have had to dodge school busses that had blown through stop signs.  A few weeks ago, there was a serious injury accident at one of our major intersections.  'Happened about five in the morning-  car "a" approaches the intersection in the left turn lane, sees no oncomming traffic and decides to run the red left turn signal.  Of course he didn't notice car "b", which was in the process of blowing through the red light on the other street to car "a"'s right.  Hamburger on the hiway!  The interesting part was that they were the only two cars on the road at that hour!  Driving here keeps you alert!
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#9 Ken Ulrich

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 12:14 AM

One of the sad things in this crazy world, is that you never see the total bill, for medical, loss of wages, kids losing fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers. The guilt in failing to keep one family safe. Lorne drives a school bus that take handicapped kids to school each day. One boy is Cody, his mother used to drive school bus with Lorne.  One day in the family car with her mother, Cody, and another brother, she lost control. The mother and grandmother were killed, Cody was thrown out thru a window, his spine severed, at eight or nine years of age, the other brother was OK.  Cody like most kids, copes pretty well, but he was an up n coming hockey player...never no more....short sighted actions can bring these results, in an instant...................Ken

#10 Alexei

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 04:33 AM

My advice would be:

Treat everyone like they are idiots who can't drive, it saves disappointment.

Stay alert, and on long journeys, take a regular break.  Concentrating makes you tired.

On motorways (interstates in the USA?), try and predict what the other driver is going to do.  Eventually it becomes second nature.

Follow Mylashs' advice, get advanced training.

UK police m/c officers get special training and have a very good manual with practical advice.  Try and find the equivalent for your country or state.  Read it.  Practice the advice.

I like to think I'm good, that's why I get angry with myself when I do make mistakes.  Learn from them.

#11 Smitty

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 05:50 AM

I think about the danger every time I get on my bike. I know there are safer ways to travel, but this is my choice.
I feel it leaves me with the responsibility to make it as safe as I possibly can. This means protective gear, riding safety courses, and developing good safety practices that are ALWAYS in place- no slacking.

I usually wear a full-face helmet (I have a 3/4 and goggles for when it gets particularly hot), and I have a summer and a winter riding jacket. Boots and gloves, and I'm good to go. It's more safety gear than most people around here wear, which is a bit disappointing to me. It drives me crazy to see kids on rice-rockets going 80mph, wearing shorts, a tank top and sandals.
  Thanks for making the road more dangerous, helping to give motorcyclists a bad name, and driving up my insurance rates- jerk!

I carry a reflective vest in the hack in case I have to drive in less than optimum weather conditions- I don't need it too often, but it's good to know it's there- it helps keep me noticed. (Ususally not a problem on a Ural! ;)  :D )

Experience tells me that EVERY other driver on the road is a dangerous, incompetent moron who pays no attention to anything further away than the cell phone stuck to his ear, and can't even hear anything else because he's got his crappy music turned up way too loud so we can all hear it.....and that's how I treat 'em.
I don't trust any other vehicles not to attempt to run me over at any given time. They get plenty of space, and I'm not afraid to use the horn to get noticed.

  I realize that none of this guarantees my safety, but anything I can do, I will. Fortunately for me, I'm a control freak, and I see safety issues as control challenges- as tactical problems.
  That keeps me actively interested in road safety on a moment-to-moment basis, always looking for the next threat.
  I'm not 100%, 100% of the time, but I try to keep it close...anything to get me there in one piece.

#12 mr_ural

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 05:56 AM

I wonder at the 'bikers' who don't wear any gear ... and I really wonder at them what lets their wimmen ride behind them in a bikini.  Lotsa protection there, hiyuck!  :huh:

Here in Tucson, red light / stop sign runners and cell phone wielding, latte drinking, argument w/significant other, mega-bass blasters are all too common.  That and the road-racing weavers on Speedway (70+ in traffic).  :huh:

Beyond proper gear, expect them to hit you and keeping your head on a swivel (I'm a pilot, too), I try choosing a safe route and time as part of my procedure for dealing with those who share our roads.  It's no fun to be vulnerable in a place you didn't plan for.   :cry:

No new revelations, just a couple more options to stay safe.   :D

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#13 Mud Pie

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:03 AM

I also tend to watch the tires of the cars around me.  My wife thinks I have ESP !  While we are riding, I say things like, "This guy is going to drop a lane, watch."  A few seconds later, he does, no signal or anything.  She asks me how I knew.  I told her to watch where his tires are.  If they are hugging the line, chances are he's gonna drop.

I've noticed that "most" drivers like to "set themselves up" before making a move.  They tend to hug the line, do a quick head look, then go.

Ken, this post is most timely.  Friday my wife got into a 4 car accident during RUSH HOUR !!  She was at a stand-still, no one going anywhere.  A kid plowed into the back of her, pushing her into the car in front of her, pushing that car into the back of the car in front.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.  My wifes 2005 Jeep Liberty Renegade was the only vehicle that was drivable from the scene. Sure, it's in the shop right now with about 3-4 grand worth of damage, but she drove home. The other cars involved were totalled.

In Texas, if you cause the pile up, you pay for EVERYONE, not "you hit me so you pay, I hit you so I pay" etc.  The part that sucks is, the kid that did it all, got out of his car and apologized saying he had "bad brakes and was just trying to get home." and he had NO INSURANCE !!! :o

That's the other "safety tip" I want to pass along.  Don't get the cheapest insurance you can and hope for the best.  If we didn't have "under/no insured" on our policy, we'd be out the cost of repairs and the cost of the rental car.  Total cost for us to get her Jeep fixed is 250 bucks.

Sure, the cost of a full coverage policy sucks, but having to lay out 4 grand when it's not your fault sucks even more.
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#14 RDN

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 06:37 AM

I whole heartedly agree about the training!  I've been riding for 31 years, on/off road, and thought I had it all down pretty well.  I went to a motors training course for work (law enforcement).  It included all the basics as well as formation riding and motorcade escort.  It was all fun but I learned most from the basics.  Remember head and eyes, keep them moving.
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#15 sprintstrider

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Posted 10 October 2006 - 07:10 AM

I mst say this is timely. On my commute to work this morning I almost became a hood ornament on a semi. He was hanging a right onto a 2 lane road and swung into the far lane just as I was coming to the stop, I had to blindly swerve into my far lane...he was moving too! Splat!

I have been teaching the MSF course for 2 years, I work as a physical therapist in a head injury clinic and here are some of my humble anecdotal observations.....

People drive distracted...my challenge is to not be. I rode next to a person who was reading a book in her car for 2 miles before she looked over at me wagging a finger at her! I expect others and myself to make mistakes...do you give yourself room for mistakes in judgement? Being angry at them is as useless as getting angry at your dog that runs away......

I would rather be dead then have a head injury....that is why I wear full gear regardless of weather (ok, maybe 95% adherent.....on my 3wheeler I feel artificially safer since I have less loss of traction issues to worry about)- stitch, full face helmet, boots, gloves (according to Hurt, most crashes happen at less then 30 mph, you'll likley survive and be a piece of Broccoli at that speed without a helmet...helmets help those low speed crashes, fast crashes and I will mercifully be dead).

More people come to my clinic as a result of bicycle crashes!! Motorcyclists usually die or walk away...many are hurt significnatly I am sure, but I don't see them at my clinic for the orthopedic injuries as much (remember anecdotal).

I thank the good Lord above for my daily scares as it keeps me humble, and  when it is my time, I hope I go home to Jesus quick for the sake of my beautiful wife and family.

Practice, expect trouble, and have smart fun. We are all risk taker's when we get on the machine.......that's what I like.
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