There is a danger to having years of motorcycle experience without any accidents or close calls: rider complacency. Complacency is a state of feeling secure and comfortable in an environment that doesn’t justify this feeling. It can cause you to stop riding defensively and to drop your once diligent bike inspection routine. Traffic or road situations that you once regarded as threats, may barely get your attention.
In short, complacency causes you to lose your edge even though you are using a two-wheeled motor vehicle with no protection other than a helmet and leather. This is a vehicle where an accident has a high probability of killing you.
Years of riding without incident doesn’t guaranty that an accident won’t happen today. Motorcycle accidents occur even to highly skilled people who ride defensively with great focus. You can’t control every traffic risk such as distracted, intoxicated, reckless, aggressive, and inexperienced drivers. These risks include road surface defects, road debris, and slippery surfaces.
If your riding didn’t expose you to a variety of road situations, then your long streak of luck may run out once you place yourself in an unfamiliar riding environment. Or perhaps you will become overwhelmed by several unexpected events happening at the same time. Bad days happen to everyone.
One of the reasons for complacency is that your riding skills become reflexive, which gives you more “spare capacity.” The complacent rider either fails to use this extra capacity and zones out, or uses it to focus on thoughts unrelated to his immediate situation.
The trick to overcoming complacency is using your spare capacity to increase your awareness of the traffic and road environment around you. Look further down the road, scan your mirrors for nearby cars, keep an eye open for road hazards, find ways to maintain your distance from other traffic, and plan further ahead. Unlike the motor skills used in riding, this will never become fully automated because it requires active use of your mind.
Finally, consider taking an advanced riding course. You will learn new techniques and unlearn bad habits. It will break you out of your complacent rut. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident and require legal advice, contact us.