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 Motorcycle Safety
 Roadcraft
 OBSERVATION AND PLANNING
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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 06/16/2009 :  9:09 AM                       Like
I remember a Road Safety Office once saying, 'You look but do you see?' It's a very important point and it means are we taking in all the information we can in order to assess potential threats and be able to plan our actions (and also the Plan Bs). So you can know all about System, Positioning and Overtaking but, if you are not taking in all the information in front of you then all the rest means nothing really. Looking well ahead, getting the information, is very important for good safe progress. So observation and planning (or O&P) are absolutely key elements in the process. In fact they are really the first line of defence.

Roadcraft now has a lot about information gathering. That is you not only use sight but also hearing to gather useful information on what's going on around you. Although the full face helmet, plus the noise of the motorcyle, might combine to make picking up audio clues more difficult. Your comments on this bit please.

That apart there is potentially a whole area of exchange and discussion on O&P which is obviously closely connected with Positioning.

aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 06/18/2009 :  5:17 PM
I find this to be the most fascinating aspect of the system. It seems to me that one simply can't see - and remember - everything, so the skill is in seeing the important stuff and ignoring the rest.

I found what I think is a great video of RoSPA diploma holder Glenn Julian doing commentary on a 14 minute ride on a motorway, through a town and then onto country roads. Great Roads Great Rides (Part 1) is here, and Part 2 can be viewed by clicking the link at the end of Part 1.

I would appreciate comments on this. It appears to me that Glenn doesn't miss an opportunity to gather information and use it during his ride. I don't know if Mr Julian has been trained in Roadcraft, but I was very impressed with his observational and planning skills.
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James R. Davis
Male Administrator
17284 Posts
[Mentor]


Houston, TX
USA

Honda

GoldWing 1500

Posted - 06/18/2009 :  5:38 PM Follow poster on Twitter  Join poster on Facebook as Friend  
quote:
That apart there is potentially a whole area of exchange and discussion on O&P which is obviously closely connected with Positioning.


Is it just me or are the various topics that you have developed for this forum actually just teasers?

Let me ask that in a little more straightforward manner ...

From 80% to 90% of all message views tabulated on this site are from guest visitors, not members. Since guests can read, but not post, and since they have no way of determining your e-mail address from this site, how do you expect them to obtain copies of Roadcraft material from you in order to then discuss that material?

'O&P' is obvious from your title, but how can members (or guests who become members) possibly know how to respond to your question in the above quote unless you provide some 'hooks' and detail to think about - or some controversy?
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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 06/18/2009 :  7:14 PM
The sub topics seem to be from the section titles in Roadcraft.

For controversy,

I believe observation is a learned behavior. If it's not, it would probably be the only complex task in our life that is NOT learned behavior. In order to learn effective observation, one should practice focusing on particular areas to consciously check for a hazard. This is not to be confused with target fixation. It's similar to the game "Duck Hunt" where one focuses momentarily on the duck being shot while simultaneously keeping track of the big picture.

Learning this skill takes a long time and is probably best practiced in a car, perhaps even as a passenger. Some have learned it by the time they start riding. Others haven't. In my opinion, if it's never consciously practiced, it isn't learned well.

After awhile, this crosscheck becomes automatic, however, it needs refreshing on a frequent basis or it is lost.

Personally, I use a systematic method from distant to close. As new road comes into view, I get a quick look at what is there and what hazards might be present. Then I systematically move closer checking particular things about different types of hazards. Then I sweep out again. The whole process takes a very short time.

Some might think that this will cause them to miss unique hazards. Like the moonwalking bear in the video. However, once one knows about moonwalking bears, they can't not see it. Really, there is only one hazard. That of something violating the space one plans to ride in.

After some period of time, a person might feel they have emptied their mind and are simply remaining alert. This person is in the zone much like a tennis player who is no longer consciously thinking about their stroke. A good tennis player doesn't get to that point without a lot of study and practice.

Hopefully, this is controversial enough.



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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 06/18/2009 :  8:25 PM
The scanning patterns of the information input phases of the operator task are rather simple, straightforward, and not difficult to learn. The far more complex part of the information input phase (observation) involves the development of an "inventory" or learned relationships and priorities that allow the presently available information to be used to predict various alternative possible futures states and move into a decision and execution out-put that results in the operator maintaining or changing speed and/or direction (or possibly executes a discrete task such as signaling, showing a brake light, or giving a tap on the horn or changing gears).
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aidanspa
Male Advanced Member
1739 Posts
[Mentor]


Omaha, NE
USA

Harley-Davidson

Road King

Posted - 06/18/2009 :  8:52 PM
quote:
Originally posted by gymnast

The far more complex part of the information input phase (observation) involves the development of an "inventory" or learned relationships and priorities that allow the presently available information to be used to predict various alternative possible futures states and move into a decision and execution out-put that results in the operator maintaining or changing speed and/or direction (or possibly executes a discrete task such as signaling, showing a brake light, or giving a tap on the horn or changing gears).

The Roadcraft term for that is using "Observation Links" - finding a small detail, a clue, and using it to 'link' to a likely outcome so that a rider can react sooner to a hint of a problem rather than waiting for it do develop. Sometimes the "early reaction" might be to simply keep an eye on the clue to see if it develops.

A rider learns to look for problems where they don't exist.

From an Advanced Driving Instructor Training site in UK, this page is about "Observation Links" and offers some good examples.
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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 06/18/2009 :  9:17 PM
Aidanspa, from your link to "observation links", the term "anticipation" seems to be used in the same context and have virtually the same meaning as "Predict" in the SIPDE "system" (a system being defined as a a series of interdependent and/or interacting components or subsystems that produce an intended, predictable or inevitable outcome). In other words though the terminology differs it appears that we are likely on the same page.
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 06/18/2009 :  9:31 PM
quote:
Originally posted by rioguy

... observation is a learned behavior ...

... one should practice focusing on particular areas to consciously check for a hazard ...

Hopefully, this is controversial enough.




Since we are going for controversy seems to me I would want the exact opposite. Actually I have sought the exact opposite. If I look in a room or down a street I want to see everything in that room or on that street on the first look. I agree that observation is a learned behavior. IMO it is learned incorrectly.

When a child learns to read they start looking at single letters. They are taught to focus on that one object. As they progress to words they are taught to focus on one word. It pretty much dies there.

The basis for many speed reading techniques is to break that unnecessary limiting focus. You are taught to stop seeing only one word and to see and read two, then three, then four, then a sentence then two, then a paragraph, and for some a page. The limit is not set by the eyes they have no problem seeing a page. The limit has been set by the tunnel vision created by how one learns to read, and by extension to observe. The eyes and mind do not have those limitations. Wehn lfet to its own dvicees it has no torubel seineg. Take that spell checker.

Me I will continue to practice seeing everything at once and leave it to my mind to put things in order. The odd color, the odd movement, the thing out of place, it will handle it, unless of course I force it to limit it's ability.

At the moment I am just adding as much to my minds "that could be trouble" database. My eyes will find it, if it is there, and if I allow it to be observed.

My .02

BTW, if one wants to read even faster, one should stop saying the words in ones mind as one reads them. It can't hear and it does not need it. But then again that is how we were taught to read and observe. One word at a time, read out loud.

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gymnast
Moderator
4263 Posts
[Mentor]


Meridian, Idaho
USA

Harley-Davidson

Sportster Sport

Posted - 06/18/2009 :  11:22 PM
Rayg50, the technical term for what you illustrate in your excellent examples is "Perceptual Closure" and it is a very important concept as applies to the tracking task when operating a vehicle. It is a skill, like speed-reading, that is developed through training and practice. Entry level readiness for learning this tracking skill (perceptual closure of stimuli within the path of travel) requires, in my opinion, attention to the perceptual task rather than preoccupation with basic control skills such as throttle, clutch and brake lever and pedal operation.
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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 06/19/2009 :  12:25 AM
James wrote:

'Is it just me or are the various topics that you have developed for this forum actually just teasers?

Let me ask that in a little more straightforward manner ...

From 80% to 90% of all message views tabulated on this site are from guest visitors, not members. Since guests can read, but not post, and since they have no way of determining your e-mail address from this site, how do you expect them to obtain copies of Roadcraft material from you in order to then discuss that material?'

I assume that anyone wanting to be involved is (obviously) a member or, that it is easy enough for them to join (adding to your numbers) and then become involved. They then send the personal messages etc.

then

''O&P' is obvious from your title, but how can members (or guests who become members) possibly know how to respond to your question in the above quote unless you provide some 'hooks' and detail to think about - or some controversy?'

Luckily some of the other members have started to stimulate this thread (thanks lads), so that has started to roll.

Regards

Nigel

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Nigel A
Male Junior Member
68 Posts


TAUNTON, Somerset
United Kingdom

(None)

Formerly BMW 80RT

Posted - 06/19/2009 :  4:40 AM
quote:
Originally posted by aidanspa

quote:
Originally posted by gymnast

The far more complex part of the information input phase (observation) involves the development of an "inventory" or learned relationships and priorities that allow the presently available information to be used to predict various alternative possible futures states and move into a decision and execution out-put that results in the operator maintaining or changing speed and/or direction (or possibly executes a discrete task such as signaling, showing a brake light, or giving a tap on the horn or changing gears).

The Roadcraft term for that is using "Observation Links" - finding a small detail, a clue, and using it to 'link' to a likely outcome so that a rider can react sooner to a hint of a problem rather than waiting for it do develop. Sometimes the "early reaction" might be to simply keep an eye on the clue to see if it develops.

A rider learns to look for problems where they don't exist.

From an Advanced Driving Instructor Training site in UK, this page is about "Observation Links" and offers some good examples.



Good points are made on that site.

However, just to clarify, in the UK ADI stands for (Government) Approved Driving Instructor. In other words the bog standard instructor for teaching people to take their standard driving test. Some of these have gone onto get advanced certification but unfortunatly many of these, in my view, only do so to get the letters after their name. They think it gives them a bit more professional kudos. Pity but true. However, to be fair there are those who were police traffic officers and they are obviously in a different category of knowledge and understanding. There are also a number of ADIs who are actively involved in advanced driving groups, so their level of K&U is going to be measurably better than that of the standard ADI. The site you have linked to does give useful and helpful information, but to put it in its context it is ADI orientated. For example many ADIs do know or undertand anything really about lateral positioning; they keep people in the middle of the road as much of the time as possible, which is basically fine and right when teaching people for their standard driving test. Also their point of committment for an overtake will be (for us (not U.S.)) left of the centreline - which is also the way it should be for what we call the average Joe, because most of them can not (unfortunately) be trusted to act with the right level of discretion, particularly when there is any sense of urgency, such as getting to an appointment.
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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 06/19/2009 :  5:08 AM
quote:
When a child learns to read they start looking at single letters. They are taught to focus on that one object. As they progress to words they are taught to focus on one word. It pretty much dies there.



In reading, the individual letters lose their importance as none of them are vehicles coming out of an alley to kill you.

There are languages such as Hebrew where the meaning of each and every letter is important. When one gets proficient at reading it, they sort of enter into the word and focus on each and every individual letter and the shape of the letter while at the same time reading very quickly.

I'm all in favor of getting in the zone. In my opinion, the zone is made by eliminating everything that is not important and only seeing those things that are important.

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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 06/19/2009 :  6:08 AM
quote:


... the zone is made by eliminating everything that is not important and only seeing those things that are important ...




We agree, but disagree on the best method for seeing those things.

Ones mind will automatically eliminate the familiar, and unimportant. That is why one does not know how ones home smells but a guest does.

Correct the following.

When you ride you are not looking for spills on the road. Your mind sees a difference in road surface color and draws your attention to it because you have registered that color difference it in your mind as a hazard.

If you have focused your mind somewhere else, your eyes and mind will still see the spill, but you have commanded it to not alert you until you "get around" to that part of your scan. If you scan fast enough you will get to the spill in plenty of time, just much slower than if you had allowed the tunnel to widen and the mind to do what it does naturally.


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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 06/19/2009 :  6:29 AM
rayg50,

You give the example of looking for color changes in the road. This is a great way to look for potholes, gravel and other obstacles. Once I learned this and consciously practiced it for awhile, only then was I able to quickly detect color changes in the unconscious area of the mind.

We are really both talking about the same end point in scanning. At least as I understand what you are referring to. What I'm suggesting is it is a learned skill. If one thinks they will detect things out of the ordinary without first practicing searching for those things, I feel they are mistaken.


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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 06/19/2009 :  7:00 AM
quote:


... If one thinks they will detect things out of the ordinary without first practicing searching for those things, I feel they are mistaken ...




We are definitely on the same page our approach differs or possibly "words get in the way". I think either approach will work but this alternative has worked for me in the past and I offer it for consideration.

The approach I am suggesting is in line with yours. I do not think that you are actually practicing searching for them. What you are actually doing is moving them into a reaction table. When one stops at a stop sign as a first time behind the wheel driver one will read the word S T O P on the sign and look at while at the intersection. After time, seeing the sign at a distance, one knows what the reaction must be and stops at the intersection (junction ) without having read the word or looked at it again.

That is one of the values I see in commentary riding. I feel that you are moving things in and out of your reaction table. You are changing the important (alert me) and unimportant (do not alert me I will get to it) around in your mind. You are also programming the proper response.

As a cager you did not need for tar snakes to be in your reaction table, or minor oil spills. As a rider you do and must therefore manually add it (as opposed to it instinctively being there). Once in that table, if you allow your mind to openly see everything it will draw your scan there.

Rushing to work so I hope I have not messed up the view I am trying to offer.



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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 06/19/2009 :  8:24 AM
Rayg50,

I think if we observed each other ride, there would be very little difference. As you say, words may be getting in the way and that will always be the case.

Let's take the case of a stop sign. It's my opinion that most potential conflicts can be observed at least 12 to 17 seconds prior to the conflict. A crash often results from a breakdown in observation in this time frame even though the actual hazard doesn't appear until later. For instance, one might note a driveway with grass growing near the exit well before the car appears.

One could approach a stop sign with a clear mind and hope to see hazards as they appear.

Or they could run through a whole set of common observations including things such as blind spots, cross traffic, pedestrians, bicycles on the sidewalk, traffic behind us slowing with us, the nature of the intersection, oil slicks and other things.

I think that in order for these to seemingly become obvious,they need to be consciously practiced first.

When discussing entering a curve on this board, a lot of information gathering is recommended. Advisory speeds, visibility distance, position choice, etc. I've never seen anyone recommend we just remain alert and do what comes natural. Yet, once one has a lot of experience, this is seemingly what happens.

Your thinking I don't actually practice looking for things is a valid opinion to have. But I do actually practice looking for things. And I actively look even when not practicing. The actual mind state is difficult to describe so I won't.

quote:
That is one of the values I see in commentary riding. I feel that you are moving things in and out of your reaction table. You are changing the important (alert me) and unimportant (do not alert me I will get to it) around in your mind. You are also programming the proper response.


This part makes me think we agree more than we disagree. In fact, we may totally agree if that's possible.

To combine all three theories:

1. As I approach a situation, I have an observation set that applies to that situation.

2. If a potential hazard is noted, I move that to my reaction table which is then given higher priority.

3. While doing the first two, I remain alert to anything out of the ordinary that I may have missed.
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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 06/19/2009 :  6:53 PM
quote:


...I think if we observed each other ride, there would be very little difference ...




TG, I thought I was the only one constantly dumping his bike. Your current skill level is well above mine but you know that so I sense that you refer to how we would approach riding safely.

I think there are a couple of things we view differently. Let me put one forward to get your reaction. Here is what I hear you say in your posts and this may not at all be what you are saying.

When you ride you direct your mind and eye. You have a checklist of hazards and you have your checklist of places to look. So if you were commentary riding I would expect to hear, looking far, looking intersection right, dogs no, pedestrians no, ... , looking intersection left, dogs no, pedestrians no, ... looking road surface center, tar snakes no, gravel no, deers no, dogs no ..., looking storefronts right, dogs no ... etc.

A huge exaggeration on my part but the point is that I hear you saying in your posts that you direct your focus. It is done in an extremely fast methodical way making it serve your purpose well. The discomfort I get is that that is what drivers do and when a motorcycle is not on the checklist problems can occur.

I seek to do something similar but I do not want to direct the focus. I try to see everything in front of me and allow my mind to find and direct my focus. So I would expect my commentary driving to say ... multiple intersections from here to horizon, multiple parked cars, movement at intersections no, movement towards street from storefronts yes multiple yes, focus left on nearest ... no threat, see everything ahead again. Discoloration on road surface, yes, close enough to identify, no, position move away until identification made. See everything ahead again.

To summarize where I see the difference in approach is that yours is methodical, thorough, fast, and directed.

Mine would have me not direct it but rather have it be wide focus and event driven. An event would be anything that my mind tells me warrants attention.

We both would need the mental list of hazards and likely trouble spots. We would both need to distinguish a threat from a non-threat. You would look at one side of the intersection then the other. I would seek to see both at the same time and look at the one that raises a flag first, then the other. I would not turn to one or the other until I could no longer see them both at the same time. Then, as I believe you do, I would focus on the one that poses the nearest possible threat, then the other.

I apologize in advance if my description of your method is distorted. It is exaggerated not for the sake of argument but for the sake of giving you the opportunity to set my interpretation straight.

Ray


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rioguy
Ex-Member

Posted - 06/19/2009 :  8:15 PM
Rayg50,

When I practice commentary riding, which is frequently, you describe my words very accurately. The only difference is I usually focus on an area I've discovered I'm weak in. For instance, pedestrian crossings and driveways between intersections.

However, when I'm not practicing commentary riding, it's quite different. You would hear nothing in my mind. However, as near as I can describe it, my eyes and subconscious mind focus for a very short instant on all the things I would comment on.

My point is that the method James described and the one I use, which may be very different, is an acquired skill. Probably best practiced as a passenger in a cage.

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rayg50
Male Moderator
2082 Posts
[Mentor]


NYC, NY
USA

Honda

Shadow Spirit 750DC

Posted - 06/28/2009 :  12:37 PM
rioguy, my area of the world actually had no rain today. First time in about 3 weeks. I went for a ride.

I decided to try your scanning method for finding hazards (as I understand it). I must admit I enjoyed it and found it to be effective. It definitely has a time and place in my bag of tricks.

Thanks.

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galileo
Ex-Member

Posted - 01/13/2010 :  9:48 AM
When I was a kid, I used to go visit my aunt in Yukon, PA. It's a very small town with just a couple of streets. My aunt's husband used to always pull out at the bottom of the hill without looking left. My father commented on it and Cuzzie said "Nobody ever comes that way."

Scroll forward more years than I can count on a centipede's toes. I was riding north on a farm road out of Texline, Tx. I saw a woman coming out of her driveway with her view obscured a bit by the trees. I heard Cuzzie say "Nobody ever comes from that direction."

Realizing she wasn't even looking, I did a preemptive stop. You should have seen the look on her face when she saw my high beam shining in her window from about 20 feet away where I'd stopped.

This was one case where attempting to make eye contact paid off.

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