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You can the entire collection of Safety Tip articles in a 33 Megabyte PDF Portfolio

 All Forums
 Motorcycle Safety
 Contrary Opinions
 Tip #259
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MattInFla
Male Senior Member
254 Posts
[Mentor]


Casselberry, FL
USA

Harley-Davidson

Electra Glide Classi

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  7:48 AM                       Like
I have to take issue with the conclusion of this tip.

quote:
Oh, it doesn't really matter whether or not our car is green. Just as it is incorrect to assume that 'green' is the 'bad guy', so, too, is it incorrect to assume that the left-turner is at fault.

Rider errors killed this motorcyclist.


The rider's inability to avoid the turning car clearly played a role.

However...

The driver of the car clearly violated the motorcyclist's right-of-way, and therefore the fault for the accident was the driver's. While it can be argued that the rider did not mitigate the intrusion by the driver (and in fact did not use proper lane positioning to avoid it altogether), the only actual violation of the rules of the road here is on the part of the driver.

It really doesn't matter why the driver didn't see the motorcycle - the driver has a duty to ensure that the way is clear before initiating the turn, and the failure to meet that duty was the proximate cause of the accident.

Poor riding decisions contributed to the event, but the driver of the car was at fault, IMHO.

Matt

Halap
Male Junior Member
60 Posts


Brooklyn, NY
USA

Suzuki

M50

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  8:38 AM
quote:
Originally posted by MattInFla

I have to take issue with the conclusion of this tip.

quote:
Oh, it doesn't really matter whether or not our car is green. Just as it is incorrect to assume that 'green' is the 'bad guy', so, too, is it incorrect to assume that the left-turner is at fault.

Rider errors killed this motorcyclist.


The rider's inability to avoid the turning car clearly played a role.

However...

The driver of the car clearly violated the motorcyclist's right-of-way, and therefore the fault for the accident was the driver's. While it can be argued that the rider did not mitigate the intrusion by the driver (and in fact did not use proper lane positioning to avoid it altogether), the only actual violation of the rules of the road here is on the part of the driver.

It really doesn't matter why the driver didn't see the motorcycle - the driver has a duty to ensure that the way is clear before initiating the turn, and the failure to meet that duty was the proximate cause of the accident.

Poor riding decisions contributed to the event, but the driver of the car was at fault, IMHO.

Matt


Matt, everything you say is true, but I dont want "He Had The Right Of Way" written on my tombstone. So as far as I am concerned, it doesn't really matter who broke the traffic laws. My aim in riding is to stay alive and make it home safe, so I made a promise to my mother after my last getoff that if I ever crash again in which I know could have been avoided if I had made better decisions, then I'll hang up the helmet. Since I enjoy riding very much, I try to do it to the above standard and make the best decisions possible for my safety, which is entirely different from just following traffic law and hoping for the best. Another words, if I were that rider, I would feel that it was my fault.

Thats my story and you're welcome to it.

-Halap

edited for clarity
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DataDan
Advanced Member
540 Posts
[Mentor]


Central Coast, CA
USA

Yamaha

FJR1300

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  9:52 AM
In the context of tip #259, fault--however it was decided legally--seems irrelevant. The point is very clear: the motorcyclist contributed significantly to the crash because he couldn't be seen by the left-turning driver. And, I suggest also that the rider may have not seen the vehicle threatening him.

The scenario is nearly identical to one Harry Hurt investigated in his study, and which he described in detail in the report. Hurt wrote (p62-63):


These findings [on view obstructions] provide important components for a traffic strategy for a motorcycle rider. The motorcycle rider must locate himself (or herself) in traffic to insure a clear path of view to all prospective hazards. If such a location is not possible, every intersection offers the possible challenge of the motorcycle right-of-way.

A representative accident case illustrates this problem. A motorcycle is proceeding in the curb lane and a van is travelling ahead in the parallel fast lane. Approaching an intersection, another automobile in oncoming traffic waits until the van clears and turns left as it passes. The left-turning automobile then moves into the right-of-way of the motorcycle. In such case, the culpability is clearly that of the automobile driver but both the motorcyclist and automobile driver had view obstruction (the van) before the crash. The strategy appropriate for the motorcycle rider is to ride abreast, or ahead, or much farther behind the van so that he (or she) could see and be seen. The strategic position is important to insure a clear view of prospective challenges of right-of-way and high conspicuity should increase the likelihood of being see.


In my archives of motorcycle crashes reported in the news I have dozens of examples where the line of sight between the rider and the driver of a car was blocked by uninvolved vehicles. A few examples:
  • Motorcycle is following closely behind another vehicle, as in #259, but the driver ahead slows to turn left and the rider passes on the right. An oncoming left turner can't see the motorcycle and turns in front of it.

  • The #1 and #2 lanes are stopped at an uncontrolled intersection due to congestion ahead, but the #3 lane is open, since it becomes a right-turn lane in the next block. An oncoming vehicle sees the open intersection and turns left. But a motorcycle in the #3, hidden by the two stopped lanes, enters the intersection at the same time.

  • A vehicle in the #2 lane slows to turn right into a parking lot, and a motorcycle behind it in the #1 lane continues straight. At the same time, a vehicle exiting the parking lot proceeds to make a left turn in front of the motorcycle.
When a motorcycle-vs-left-turner crash is discussed by riders, conspicuity always comes up as a recommended solution. But I contend that passive visibility measures such as bright colors and headlight modulators are over-valued by riders unless they are seen as secondary to a strategy of active visibility--recognizing situations where a threat may be hidden and adjusting position and speed to open the blocked line of sight.
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TonicBIA
Male Senior Member
382 Posts


Arlington, Va
USA

Triumph

Sprint ST

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  10:58 AM
While I appreciate your approach, I do not operate under the belief that right of way is common knowledge.

In Northern Virginia, I expect cars to violate my right of way multiple times a minute. After six years in the area, I've rarely found that expectation to be false.
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Cash Anthony
Female Administrator
1466 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, Texas
USA

Honda

Magna 750

Posted - 08/08/2011 :  2:25 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
quote:
While I appreciate your approach, I do not operate under the belief that right of way is common knowledge.

I'm not sure what you're getting at. How is this contrary to what was just recommended?

The suggestions are to act as if other drivers do not obey right-of-way laws or else don't actually see the rider because of moving obstacles (or even fixed ones) that temporarily get in the way.

This is also known as "moving camoflauge" and happens frequently. It does constitute "rider error" to ignore realities, no matter what the legal determination of fault may be, after the fact.


Cash
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Moses
Male Senior Member
377 Posts
[Mentor]


Grand Rapids, Michigan
USA

Harley-Davidson

FX Softail

Posted - 08/09/2011 :  11:47 AM
I have a simple philosophy about this -

As soon as you throw your leg over the saddle of a motorcycle, the concept of "right-of-way" ceases to exist. I try to ride with the idea in mind that everyone else on the road is intentionally out to get me, and they're all just waiting for me to drop my guard for a split-second so they can move in for the kill. As David Hough advises, I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure that other drivers won't "get me".

If you collide with a car (even a very little one) when you're on a bike, you are going to lose, no matter who was "In the right". There are no traffic laws that will ever change that fact. Ride accordingly, and you'll never have to concern yourself with who has the right-of-way.
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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 08/09/2011 :  1:59 PM
Can anyone cite a specific section of the vehicle code (for the state in which you live) that assigns the right of way to a particular vehicle in the traffic mix? All I can find are references to vehicles and situations where one must YIELD Right of way and not proceed unless safe to do so. For instance, you must yeild for pedestrians and pedestrians must not proceed unless safe to do so. It is an error to assume that one "has the right of way" under any circumstances and this applies to emergency vehicles as well. The lights and sirens on emergency vehicles ask others to yield the right of way to them. In the presence of emergency vehicles failure to yield, under conditions where it is safe to do so, may result in being cited for an infraction.

In "rare cases", not only can an "improper left turner" be cited for failure to yield, under certain circumstances the vehicle that strikes the vehicle making the improper left turn can also be cited for failure to yield when circumstances indicated the collision could have been avoided by slowing or stopping. If the officer issuing the citation was not present as a witness to the crash, it is unlikely that both drivers would be cited.

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rkfire
Advanced Member
1689 Posts


Stratford, CT
USA

Suzuki

Bandit

Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 08/09/2011 :  3:34 PM   Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
I know of one gymnast, just an oddity. CT roundabouts or rotaries.

Sec. 14-239. One-way streets. Rotaries or roundabouts.
(b) A vehicle passing around a rotary or roundabout shall have the right of way over entering vehicles and shall be driven only to the right of such rotary or roundabout, unless otherwise directed by signs.

I will say, I had a crash with a left turner years ago. Legally, she got a ticket and her insurance paid for the repairs. I was glad for that, but my very FIRST reaction was to myself, "how did I let her catch me offguard". My first words out loud were to her, "are you ok".

I vowed that would never happen again.
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Halap
Male Junior Member
60 Posts


Brooklyn, NY
USA

Suzuki

M50

Posted - 08/09/2011 :  8:18 PM
+1 to Moses.
In aggressive traffic protecting the space around the bike, keeping some "outs" in case you need to bail and having a healthy bit aof paranoia about the intentions of your felllow motorists keeps you healthy. They don't have to be malicious to be deadly- for example, in my 12 hours of drivIng a cab in NYC today, I saw 2 people literally asleep at the wheel. One at a stop light, the other in a turn lane with his door open.... Didn't stop ask.
Spending 12 hrs a day on the streets, I see the average condition of people behind the wheel and its suboptimal to say the least. Too many folks seem to feel that even if they are sick tired drunk high angry or simply not blessed by the Good Lord with common sense, that as long as they are ok enough to point their two ton vehicle in the right direction, they're good to drive. Should an accident happen, that's what all the traction electronics and crumple zones are for. This mindset, which is well represented among cagers, is homicidal towards the motorcyclists they encounter.
Being a rider and lacking both electronic aides and crumple zones, changes the calculus drastically. Anything involving touching another vehicle is an unacceptable near death experience. Therefore, when in aggressive traffic, the concept of "right of way" is moot vis a vis larger vehicles. It's better to assume the worst about their intentions, intelligence and parentage and be disappointed rather than assume that they are in optimal control of their machines and their faculties and get it wrong.
Road rash hurts....
And "hey baby, ever hooked up with a mummy before" isn't as good a pickup line as you would imagine.

-Halap
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