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Do You Really Know...
... What's Dangerous About Riding In Fog? (Who'da thunk?)

By: James R. Davis

Have you ever been confronted with the need to drive in the fog? I can remember many many days of riding between L.A. and San Francisco where I found myself suddenly closed in by a fog bank. Those were scary times, for several reasons.

If you cannot see two seconds ahead of you, of course, you should get off your bike. That's not an issue many would argue. What is, however, is the nature of accidents that you can expect if you ride in reduced visibility environments.

Besides what we all understand as risks (that you will ride into something you didn't see, or that somebody will ride into you, for the same reason), I suggest that the most serious problem likely to happen is that you will drop your motorcycle - for apparently no good reason.

It makes sense, actually. With limited visibility you are unable to see the horizon. Passing trees give you some hint of vertical, but not always reliably. Anyway, if you are in a curve and must stop quickly, you have no way of knowing if the bike is vertical when you get stopped! Before you know it you find the bike falling over and you are unable to stop it. All because you could not see the horizon, (even though you do not consciously look at it in order to gauge vertical.)

Who'da thunk such a thing?

Another interesting phenomena that a reader pointed out to me recently is that studies have shown that people tend to gradually increase speed while driving in the fog. I didn't know that and cannot recall that I have had that happen to me, but I certainly understand how it could happen. With any experience at all we tend to look at our speedometers rarely as we can judge pretty well what our speed is using the passing scenery for cues. In the fog those cues are unreliable.

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(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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