Avoiding Bad Traffic
There comes a time in everyone's bike-riding days when you need to
make split-second decisions about a traffic situation. Some situations
may not be as serious as others, but some literally can mean the
difference between life and death, so it's best to be prepared.
Preparing for potentially dangerous situations involves a combination
of experience and preparation. The more experience you have, the more
ingrained and automatic your reactions. However, for many riders,
especially new ones without much experience, your best bet is to be
prepared by knowing several valuable pieces of information that can be
helpful in a dangerous situation.
The first of these is known as defensive driving, which includes
constantly thinking three thoughts:
- Other drivers can't see me
- Other drivers don't like me
- Something will probably go wrong
While this type of thinking may seem overly negative and pessimistic,
it goes a long way to making you a better driver because it reminds
you to be constantly alert for bad traffic situations. Your increased
alertness then leads to faster reactions, which can save you from a
Another good rule of thumb is to remember that the vast majority of
threats you will face come from the opposite direction in which you
are traveling. As a result, it's important to spend most of your time
scanning and looking at the road ahead of you, not elsewhere. However,
this is hard to implement if you live in a large urban area like a
big, busy city. In this environment, you need to keep your eyes peeled
in almost every direction: on the vehicle ahead, on your side, behind
you, and well ahead of you as well.
Finally, consider the advice offered by the Motorcycle Safety
Foundation, which developed a set of excellent rules for anticipating
and dealing with traffic threats to bikers. The rules fall under the
acronym SIPDE, pronounced sip-dee, which stands for the following
- Scan: Actively search for hazards from the environment, roadway, and
- Identify: Determine which items constitute actual or potential
- Predict: What the hazard is likely to do or how it might affect you
or other road users.
- Decide: Determine the course of action based on your observations
and anticipation of what the hazard might do.
- Execute: Carry out your plan or move away from the threat by slowing
down, stopping, or swerving.
Following the tips above and the SIPDE rules are the best way to
insure that your rides are safe and pleasant.