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Filing a 'Flight Plan'
Very savvy self-defense

By: James R. Davis

Yesterday I took an impromptu 130 mile solo ride on the GoldWing. The trip was uneventful. Still, it was not the smartest thing I have ever done.

It has been a practice of mine to always let someone know where I was going, probable route, and expected return time if I took off by myself. Filing that 'flight plan' makes more sense if traveling on back roads than it does if traveling on freeways (which is what I did yesterday) but the fact remains that if I had had an accident 60 miles away from home it could have been a long time before anybody realized I was in trouble.

As many of you know I always wear an emergency tag which includes among other things the name and telephone number of the person I would want to be contacted in case of trouble. That served as my backup plan instead of the 'flight plan' idea posted above. In other words, because I was NOT traveling on the back roads I relied on the emergency tag.

But the fact remains that letting someone know where you intend to be, the route you plan to take, and your expected return time is a very savvy thing to do, tag or no tag. I simply forgot to do so.

Cash, my regular riding partner, chewed my leg off about 8 hours later when I mentioned that I had taken that little trip without letting her know. Mea culpa!

By the way, you file a 'flight plan' with someone who EXPECTS to hear from you when you return. One person DID know where I was going and when but did NOT expect me to call him when I had returned - this was not an example of the 'flight plan' idea described above.

Now reasonableness is a subject that comes to mind. Is filing a flight plan a 'safety issue' when you are traveling freeways from one location to another near home? I mean, as has been pointed out by others, if you are involved in an accident on a freeway or other well traveled surface streets, you are not likely to end up undiscovered for hours or days.

In that case a flight plan is merely a courtesy posting. It could be as short as: "I'm going to take the bike to Honda of Houston and expect to be there about 2:30." That's a courtesy message.

But if I'm out on a camp-out and decide to do some trail riding, or plan to ride some back-country roads, or it's a multi-day trip, I will file a much more detailed plan. Then it's a safety issue.

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

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