In case of an accident or near-miss, you must take one big step: placing responsibility on yourself.
Don’t blame your bike. Don’t blame your tires. Don’t blame other motorists. Identify what you did right, what you did wrong and learn from it.
Identify the Mistakes
Start with what happened. We’ll use a story to illustrate our point:
Joe Rider is riding down a street with two lanes each way when the truck ahead of him in the left lane slows before reaching a crosswalk. Joe recognizes the brake lights but as far as he can see, his path of travel is clear, so he keeps his speed up. When Joe reaches the crosswalk, he just misses clipping a pedestrian appearing from the front of the truck. Arriving at his destination, he takes off his gear in a huff and tells all of his friends about the stupid pedestrian that almost walked into his bike, but he is still glad there was no damage done to anyone or anything involved.
What happened here? Joe Rider was aware enough to identify the crosswalk and truck slowing. However, he did not take into account the reduction of visibility the truck caused. The larger vehicle effectively shielded the pedestrian from Joe’s sight.
Mistake one: not realizing the truck was causing a reduction in visibility. Joe could have slowed or changed position in his lane to improve what he could see.
Mistake two: not slowing. The truck was slowing. The driver may have been turning without signaling, but that would be an incorrect assumption.
Mistake three: trying to put blame on the pedestrian. “They were walking too quickly.” “They should have been looking.” It’s the motorist’s responsibility to yield to pedestrians.
Mistake four: rationalization. “A miss is as good as a mile” is the wrong attitude to have. What if the next time this scenario happens, the pedestrian is a little bit faster? The rider and pedestrian could end up in the hospital. The rider needs to learn from their mistakes.
If Joe realizes it’s his fault if he collides with a pedestrian, he will start looking into why it was a close call. He will hopefully identify the mistakes listed above and determine why he made them, how they affected the scenario and how to fix them in the future.
Once the mistakes have been identified, the rider can determine what they did wrong, what the did right and how to improve their safety in the situation. Joe needs to take a close look at what he deems is acceptable visibility of his environment and how to improve his riding to meet a stricter standard. For example, he could have slowed his motorcycle to reduce the effect of reduced visibility from the truck.
Learning from Mistakes Made by Others
As a rider, you need all the learning you can get. Any time you hear or read about an accident, find out as much information as possible, identify possible mistakes and figure out what you would do in the situation. Learning from mistakes other folks make is a valuable method to avoiding tears and expensive damage to your bike or your body.