Surviving life or death situations revolves around doing the right thing. When a motorcycle accident is imminent or has already occurred, you won’t have time to analyze your options. Preventing an accident or minimizing its consequences requires quick reflexive action. This means you will have to think ahead of time about what to do should the unthinkable happen. Here are tips for handling four emergencies:
- Don’t swerve around animals. If an animal surprises you by darting right in front of your bike while riding at highway speeds on a two lane road, don’t attempt to swerve. The road is too narrow and you’re going too fast to pull it off. You will either go off the road and hit worse things, hit an oncoming car, or end up on the pavement. Ride in a straight line with your front wheel pointing straight ahead while braking hard. This will reduce your speed and thus reduce the damage sustained should you lose control. Going straight will reduce your risk of getting knocked off your bike during the collision. Motorcyclists have badly injured themselves because attempts to swerve around squirrels caused them to crash into a tree or car.
- Don’t lay down your bike when a collision is imminent. Brakes are far better at bleeding off speed than the friction of your body against the pavement. You will only slam into or go under the obstacle you are trying to avoid. Brakes are engineered to do what your skidding and sliding body wasn’t meant to do. When there is no time or room to swerve, stay on your bike and brake hard. Reducing your speed by one half will reduce the energy of impact by three-quarters and immensely improve your survival prospects.
- Slide, don’t tumble. Surviving a fall from a bike requires a helmet and protective gear for your body. Tumbling on the pavement at highway speeds can break your arms, legs, spine, or neck. If you can manage it, initiate a slide along the pavement and let friction bring you to a stop. Of course, you will likely suffer friction injuries but they are a less severe injury type than broken bones, spine, or neck. This is why protective gear is so important.
- Don’t fixate on what you wish to avoid. Target fixation is the phenomenon of going toward whatever you are looking at. It also causes motorcyclists to collide into the very thing they wish to avoid in emergency maneuvers. When suddenly finding an obstacle in your path, focus on your escape route rather than the obstacle. If you round a corner too quickly, lean the bike and look down the road ahead. Don’t look at the road edge or the ditch below.
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