Advanced Riding

The most common motorcycle accidents and how to avoid them

Here’s our list of the most common types of motorcycle accidents that could happen to you and how you can keep safe by avoiding them

COMPARED to driving in a car, the number of hazards that could endanger a motorcyclist’s life are huge. Dog shit, diesel and dickheads are just a few of the things that we dodge daily. But what are the most common types of motorcycle, and how can you best try and avoid them?

What is a SMIDSY?

Probably the most worrying and infuriating type of crash is commonly called the SMIDSY - standing for Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You. A SMIDSY can happen pretty much anywhere, on any type of road and at any speed.

A common SMIDSY happens as you are riding along a major road that has a smaller road joining on the left-hand side. The problem starts as the car driver emerging from the left will be psychologically aware that the road they are joining is probably busier than the one they are leaving. This means a couple of things will be happening in the driver’s brain.

First off, they are going to already have it in their mind that they need to get out as quickly as possible, meaning the chances of them slowing down properly are reduced. Because of that, they are also probably not going to give enough time to properly check for danger.

Secondly, and most car driver do this, they will only look to see if there are cars coming, not an absence of all vehicles including motorcycles. An absence of just cars to a flustered driver means the road is clear and most will pull out.

Who do I avoid a SMIDSY at a junction?

As with all advanced riding, the key to avoiding a SMIDSY starts with your observations and keeping an eye on the left-hand side of the road, whether there is a junction there or not, to look out for potential danger. When you spot a car approaching from the left, assume the driver hasn’t seen you, even if they are staring straight at you. Now slow down and have a check to your right to see if anything is outside of you. If it’s clear, and you’re on a dual carriageway, safely move to the outside lane to give the numpty some room.

The number of drivers who have pulled out on while I’ve been maintaining eye contact with them while wearing a clear visor is very worrying. The shock in the face of the driver is the scariest thing to me, it means that person looked to the right, made full eye contact me and still pulled out while I was sounding my horn and taking evasive action! Frightening stuff.

How can I tell if a car is going to pull out on me?

A good way to tell if a car is about to move is by looking at the wheels, they will be the first tell-tale sign that the car is pulling away. It’s much easier to pick up a tiny amount of rotation in a front wheel from 100 yards than it is to notice one foot of forward movement while looking at the front bumper.

How can I avoid being wiped out by a car changing lanes?

The first thing to be aware of is where the blind spots in a car are. If you aren’t a driver of one of those four-wheeled things go and sit in the driver seat and look in the rear-view mirror and get your friend to stand so you can see them clearly. Then get them to take a few steps to the left and right. Then look round to see where they really are. Do the same with the wing mirrors and you’ll be surprised by how big the blind spot for a cager really is!

Now we’ve found the blind spot, avoid it, at all costs. If you must sit in someone’s blind spot it’s best not to dwell there for too long. If you have to remain potentially hidden from view, try and kick the bike down a gear or two so the revs rise but the speed remains the same. That way there is more chance the driver will click on to your existence and have a better look around before trundling across lanes.

Keep an eye out for the dickheads on the road too – you know the sort! They generally drive a German-made saloon and will swap lanes to get a three-foot advantage on everyone else because they love getting home that 0.003 seconds quicker.

How can I avoid being rear-ended?

If you are the first to arrive at a red light, it can be a lonely and anxious place to be. The feeling of vulnerability as the herd of cars, vans, and lorries pile down behind you never fails to get the pulse racing!

To try and minimize the risk, it’s important to take into account your road and lane position, while being hyper-aware of what’s going on behind you.

Try and position yourself with an escape route nearby, and not in the centre of the middle lane. Doing that will give you only one place to go, out into the live road ahead. Instead, sit to the left or the right if you can, leave your bike in gear, keep a hand on the throttle and an eye on your mirrors. Now if you do see something unfolding behind you, the bike is ready to scoot away to the left or the right of the carnage, hopefully leaving you unscathed.

If you aren’t the first to the red light and there are other vehicles there already, don’t sit slap-bang on the towing hitch of the car at the back. It’s a one-way ticket to becoming the meat in an automotive sandwich. Filter to the front and get some metal and airbags between you and the crash.

If it’s not safe to filter through, position the bike on the white line between the lanes to give yourself a gap to move into should the worst happen.

How do I avoid a SMIDSY at a roundabout?

Roundabouts are a bit like when a car joins a major road from the left. There’s a lot going on for the poor car driver’s brain to take in. They need to pick an exit and figure out which lanes they need to swerve in and out of, all while on the phone to their mate.

As the average car driver’s mind is so completely overloaded with very important car driver things, we should do some of their thinking for them. The first thing that will help is to slow down. We know getting your knee down is cool, but maybe not on a packed roundabout at rush hour. Give the car drivers time to spot you. Indicate at the right time and use your lifesavers before entering or exiting a roundabout.

Also keep in mind the time of day it is, particularly when the schools are kicking out. The danger posed by a parent on a school run with a car full of hungry kids is huge. Give the people carrier with the ‘Princess on board’ sign in the back window a wide berth. She’s not a princess and it probably a little shit who craves mummy and daddy’s attention, every second of every day. You will be very low on their list of priorities.

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