The official start of the summer season is only days away, but
already the weather has been cooperating and has been warm and rider
friendly. For those of us living in NJ, the summer season brings along
with it an increase in already awful traffic for those heading to the
famous Jersey Shore. Unfortunately, it also brings the potential for
an increase in accidents.
A motorcyclist's mantra "See and Be Seen" is necessary
for our survival on the road, but equally is the responsibility of every
rider to be aware of the traffic around them. One of our members, Lynn
Lenco, remarked (quite astutely) that as motorcyclists, we should always
follow the "Rule of Tonnage". It is a very simple rule to
live by. If the vehicle coming onto a roadway is bigger and weighs more
than what you are riding/driving, let it go ahead of you. Don't put
yourself in a position you may not win.
These two photos provide an excellent example of the "Rule of Tonnage",
the semi dump truck jack-knifed trying to miss the motorcycle. Obviously
he failed. Although seriously injured, only one person survived this
crash and it wasn't the motorcyclist. Photos courtesy
rule I follow all the time is to assume that the driver of any vehicle
does not see me.
(Editor: the photo
at the left shows two vehicles from 300 feet away. That tiny pinprick
of light to the right of the dual headlights is a motorcycle. The picture
on the right shows the same two vehicles from 150 feet away. While not
as serious during daylight, the problem with visibility for the motorcycle
is obvious. Photos courtesy of Poplin
Even if I have the right of way, I will slow down (slightly)
at intersections-especially with the right on red. I never go just as
the light at the intersection turns green without looking first. This
I learned from experience. On day I was first in line at an intersection
with the delayed green on my side of the road. The on-coming traffic
had crossed and I was sitting (in my car) waiting for my light to turn
green. When it turned green, I hesitated because I had seen something
on my left side. Well, that something turned out to be a woman blowing
through the red light. We all know what could have happened.
I know that I have written in the past about safety while riding,
but I believe repeating myself is worth your life and safety. Be careful
out there. Take the extra 1-2 seconds to look. Let aggressive drivers
pass you. Seek out less traveled roads. Ride with a buddy if you can
and always have your cell phone programmed with ICE (In Case of Emergency)
phone number. Rescue personnel are trained to look for this number on
your phone so someone can be contacted if you are in an accident. Make
sure you bike is working properly and obey the speed limits. You will
arrive no sooner than the people you pass. Don't tailgate. Exhaust fumes
are not healthy to begin with and if you are close enough to see the
serial number on the exhaust pipe it's time to back off the throttle.
Besides, it is difficult to avoid smacking the back of a car or truck's
bumper when they have to hit the brakes when you are too close.
Remember, enjoy the ride, take in the scenery but keep a watchful
eye on all that is around you!
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