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 Helmet as distress signal
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17286 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500
Peer Review: Blocked

Posted - 06/26/2006 :  2:21 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend    DetailDetail                        Like
Poll Question:
For many years I have known that I could use my helmet, by placing it on the ground near my motorcycle's front tire, as a distress ("I need help!") signal.

I recently learned that this is NOT a well known signal. Further, there are different placements used to indicate the same thing as some riders believe that instead of being near the front wheel the helmet should be placed near the rear wheel.

This is important! Either there is a well understood signal or there is no signal at all. So, please indicate your awareness and understanding of how to use your helmet to signal a need for help when you are out on the road.


Results:
Yes, I knew about it. The helmet should be placed on the roadside of the bike near its FRONT WHEEL.   [15%] 16 votes 
Yes, I knew about it. The helmet should be placed on the roadside of the bike near its REAR WHEEL.   [3%] 3 votes 
Yes, I knew about it. The helmet should be placed on the ground BEHIND the FRONT WHEEL.   [0%] 0 votes 
Yes, I knew about it. The helmet should be placed on the ground BEHIND the REAR WHEEL.   [8%] 9 votes 
Yes, I knew there was a distress signal but did not know where the helmet should be placed.   [10%] 11 votes 
No, I have never heard of such a distress signal using a helmet.   [64%] 70 votes 
= Guests (39 votes)


Poll Status: Closed  »»   Total Votes: 109 counted  »»   Last Vote: 07/26/2006 11:15 AM 
Niebor
Ex-Member

Posted - 06/26/2006 :  2:54 PM
At least, I had not heard of it, until it was mentioned here. Not sure i'm crazy about my helmet being on the ground though. Nor am I sure motorists, or other riders in this area would be familiar with the "distress" indication. May be that some sort of public interest campaign is in order?
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bkikkert
Male Advanced Member
847 Posts
[Mentor]


Cornwall, Ontario
Canada

Harley-Davidson

Ultra Classic '08

Posted - 06/26/2006 :  7:05 PM
I've seen other motorcyclists in distress but have never seen their helmets on the ground. This is the first time I have heard about this signal and anyone I have asked has not heard of it either. Without common knowledge, it is meaningless...
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17286 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 06/26/2006 :  7:25 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Obviously, as we're finding out here, this is not a well known signal.

It was not a figment of my imagination as you must realize when you hear John Henry say that his HOG chapter tells its members about the signal, but specifying a different wheel than I do and John and I have never talked about this before.

It also is not just a Houston thing. As I said earlier, I was aware of this signal from my riding days in California and that was over thirty years ago.

So far we have had 6 out of 17 people tell us they knew about the signal. We really should have had 17 out of 17 aware of it.

For those who say that it is a meaningless signal where they live because only 10% or so of the riders there wear helmets ... this is just another reason for them to at least have a helmet with them. Or, maybe its just another way to say you sometimes get what you ask for. (In other words, there is nothing that the group of riders who refuse to wear helmets can tell me about safety that can be heard through their excuses.)
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InnerFonzie
Junior Member
28 Posts


Cranford, NJ
USA

Suzuki

Boulevard C50

Peer Review: 1

Posted - 06/26/2006 :  8:21 PM

Hardy: Why are you wearing a helmet?
Laurel: I'm, not wearing it, I'm carrying it.
Hardy: Why do you need to carry a helmet?
Laurel: Just in case we need help.
Hardy: Why is it on your head?
Laurel: Because that's the easiest place to carry it.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17286 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 06/26/2006 :  8:23 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
LOL
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wimmer_sux
Male New Member
19 Posts


Nashville, TN
USA

Harley-Davidson

2005 XL883C

Posted - 06/26/2006 :  10:12 PM
I have never heard of that signal, or any others for that matter (besides the standard hand signals). I would greatly appreciate a topic or tip listing that and any other riding signals.
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Niebor
Ex-Member

Posted - 06/26/2006 :  11:20 PM
Once this one is said and done, i'd be curious as to hand signals you would generally exchange with riders traveling in the opposite direction. The wave, and peace sign seem predominant. Slow down, (usually for LEO) is also popular.

The only real opinion i've heard in the matter, in the twisties, the number of fingers, indicating the number of bikes remaining in the group. Seems that, regardless, its always two?
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Mikeydude
Male Advanced Member
742 Posts
[Mentor]


Ft. Worth, Texas
USA

Harley-Davidson

03 FXD Super Glide

Posted - 06/27/2006 :  3:15 PM
James... I hope you don't mind... I took the liberty of posting this poll on a local riders message board to see how many folks in this area are aware of it. I'll post results as they become available.

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Nicolas27
Male Senior Member
364 Posts
[Mentor]


Atlanta, Georgia
USA

Honda

'06 Aero

Posted - 06/27/2006 :  4:34 PM
I chose "have not heard" even though I now remember reading about it before on this website somewhere.

I would have just passed some guy on the side of the road thinking, "why would he put his helmet on the ground??" having not remembered that I read about it.

Seems to me, judging by the results, that it's not that effective. I would guess the results of this poll on this website would be the most promising, since we're all very interested in safety issues.
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Mikeydude
Male Advanced Member
742 Posts
[Mentor]


Ft. Worth, Texas
USA

Harley-Davidson

03 FXD Super Glide

Posted - 06/27/2006 :  5:33 PM
The local board has 5 "Never heard of it" votes, and an overwhelming questioning of the purpose in doing it. It seems these folks prefer waving down a motorist if something is wrong, and don't seem to understand when or why one would use the helmet as a signal.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17286 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 06/27/2006 :  6:19 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Curious, isn't it? I mean, for 30 years or so I thought this was a standard signal known by all motorcyclists - took it for granted, in other words. Now it turns out that apparently less than half of motocyclists have ever heard of it. Well, I think we can change that.

Why bother? Who needs it? Why not just flag down passing motorists?

Right. How many times have you passed a motorcycle stopped at the side of the road? Did you stop and see if they needed help? If you were driving a car and a motorcyclist tried to wave you down would you stop for him? (I mean, if you weren't already a motorcyclist and didn't SEE something that confirmed that they were in trouble - like lots of blood.)

I can tell you that I have stopped to see if a motorcyclist needed help many times. Usually, I get a 'no thanks but thanks for asking' kind of response and that's the end of that. But after a few of those experiences you begin to assume that a motorcycle still on its wheels but stopped at the side of the road is NOT a motorcyclist in need of help - even if they do.

Now this is not an esoteric maybe once in a lifetime signal like 'Need change for a $20 bill'. Say, for example, that you get light headed and need to stop your bike. If you can get your helmet onto the ground next to the front wheel you can then lay down and sooner or later you are going to get help. You are unlikely to be able to safely wave down passing cars. Or, say you simply run out of gasoline. Sooner or later you are going to get help with that signal.

Maybe we could come up with a better way - like, say, insuring that every motorcycle has a pit crew sign board along with marks-a-lot pens aboard 'just in case'. I think not. I already have a helmet aboard. And if I don't I can wave down traffic.
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Nicolas27
Male Senior Member
364 Posts
[Mentor]


Atlanta, Georgia
USA

Honda

'06 Aero

Posted - 06/27/2006 :  6:44 PM
quote:
I already have a helmet aboard.


Sadly, the people who would most likely need help are the ones that don't already have one aboard. And, heaven forbid, if you choose not to wear your helmet, what do you do?

I think it's a great idea to use some sort of universal sign such as the helmet next to the front tire. It would have to make it's way to become an official viewpoint of the MSF, and each state's motorcycle section of their respective DMVs, and thus be taught to everyone who is applying for a motorcycle operators endorsement on their license.

Btw, why don't motorcycles have hazard flashing lights? All it would take is a simple wiring of a button, right?

Edited by - Nicolas27 on 06/27/2006 6:45 PM
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17286 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 06/27/2006 :  6:48 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
Many do have 4-way flashers built-in. Mine, for example.
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jollyroger
Advanced Member
2157 Posts
[Mentor]


St. Charles, MO
USA

Harley-Davidson

Springer Classic

Posted - 06/28/2006 :  8:35 AM
quote:
Originally posted by James R. Davis

Many do have 4-way flashers built-in. Mine, for example.


Mine, too, which would do me zero good if my electrical system went south...
I think the helmet on the road is a great signal.
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Niebor
Ex-Member

Posted - 06/28/2006 :  9:24 AM
Many, if not most newer street bikes have 4-ways. But then, IMO, having the 4-ways flashing is not necessarily indicative of trouble. I will use them for example, when I pull off for a photo op, though I will not, where it is not possible to do so with relative safety. In this case, the 4-ways are are merely running to help catch the attention of those who may be inattentive, and wandering off track.
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Mikeydude
Male Advanced Member
742 Posts
[Mentor]


Ft. Worth, Texas
USA

Harley-Davidson

03 FXD Super Glide

Posted - 06/28/2006 :  11:46 AM
That thread has now disintegrated into a joke off...

There are now 9 votes cast, all for "Never heard of it". It turns out this is more of a sportbike forum. I think I'm the only cruiser owner there... I only mention this wondering if there is a difference between sports-riders and cruisers in this sort of thing.
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scottrnelson
Advanced Member
6888 Posts
[Mentor]


Pleasanton, CA
USA

KTM

990 Adv, XR650L

Posted - 06/28/2006 :  12:35 PM
quote:
Originally posted by Mikeydude

That thread has now disintegrated into a joke off...

There are now 9 votes cast, all for "Never heard of it". It turns out this is more of a sportbike forum. I think I'm the only cruiser owner there... I only mention this wondering if there is a difference between sports-riders and cruisers in this sort of thing.


Now you have me confused. Every single response to this thread so far is from someone with either a cruiser or a Goldwing. I'm one of the few regulars here that prefers sport bikes.
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ksuguy
Male Senior Member
366 Posts


Wichita, KS
USA

Suzuki

V-Strom 650

Posted - 06/28/2006 :  12:38 PM
I think he was referring to that other local riding forum he mentioned.
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Mikeydude
Male Advanced Member
742 Posts
[Mentor]


Ft. Worth, Texas
USA

Harley-Davidson

03 FXD Super Glide

Posted - 06/28/2006 :  1:54 PM
Yes Scott... My bad. I was refering to that other forum. I don't see this forum as leaning towards one kind of rider over another. It's all pretty focused on the safety issues and not on the type of machines ridden.

Like I said, I only mentioned it wondering if there is a difference between sports-riders and cruisers in this sort of topic. The other boards I've visited tend to be very biased towards one type of ride over another. Sports guys don't seem to mix well with the cruiser guys, and vise versa. This is probably the only site I know where what kind of ride really doesn't matter (even though the others say the same thing). This one's all about learning to be a better, safer rider, period.

Edited by - Mikeydude on 06/28/2006 1:56 PM
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subvetSSN606
Senior Member
418 Posts
[Mentor]


Ellettsville, IN
USA

Suzuki

800 Intruder

Posted - 06/28/2006 :  6:17 PM
I had heard of it, but had also heard of both the front wheel and rear wheel variations, and also came to realize it wasn't particularly well known in either case.

Another one that may seem obvious, but it being related, I raise it here...

If you're the guy parked on the side of the road and you see a rider approaching you and giving you a "thumbs up" hand signal, They're not doing a variation on the wave, they're not saying "cool scoot," They're asking you if you are OK. Give them a "thumbs up" and a nod if you are, a "thumbs down" and a "No" shake of the head if you do need some help.

Tom
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