How to Avoid-Survive a Motorcycle Incident With an Object on the Roadway

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The first step is prevention. This means you must look as far down the road as possible. When you are in traffic, this is very important. On the open road, it is easier to see objects and take corrective action. It takes approx. 1.6 seconds for the rider to see the situation, think of a solution and take corrective action. The rider can cover a lot of distance in 1.6 sec at just 60 mph, so you have be prepared.

Minimize the impact. If you cannot avoid hitting an object in the road, like a ladder that is cross ways, there are steps to take to minimize the impact. Try to slow down as quickly and safely as possible before striking the object. Just prior to striking the object, release the front brake lever. Maintain a relaxed but firm grip on your handlebars, however, do not grip them too tightly. You do not want to transmit the impact into your hands and arms, which might cause you to lose control.

As you strike the object, slightly pull back on the handlebars and give the motorcycle just a little throttle. This will allow the front suspension to travel over the object with a much smoother motion, which is less jarring to the rider. Try to strike the object as close to 90 degrees as possible.

Look where you want to go. If you see a path around the object, look there. Do not look at the object, you will hit it. Your eyes, brain and hands are all connected and you will go where your eyes are looking.

Whether you strike the object or not, remember to breathe. Too often riders tense up and hold their breath. Holding your breath increases your chance of making the wrong decision and also of injury (if you strike the object or go off the road surface.)

After you have passed the object, and after you have started breathing again, you will feel a rush of adrenaline. Try to maintain your composure, but if you must, proceed down the road to a safe place where you can pull off and relax for a few minutes. You may even want to get off the bike and replay the scenario in your head and see how you may have gotten around the object (if you did hit it) or how you may have avoided the situation (by looking further down the road.) Then get back on your bike and enjoy the rest of your ride.

Robert is the owner of Elite Sportbike, a Southeast U.S. track day provider. Elite provides track day instruction for riders on racetracks in a safe, controlled environment. We have multiple groups for the Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced rider.

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