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Taking Responsibility For Your Actions

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by grange, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. An article that doesn't try to blame the mythical scam of smidsy....


    In 27 years of riding streetbikes on an almost daily basis, I’d never had an accident involving another vehicle. Until one year ago. Riding a Ducati Streetfighter home from work one evening on Sunset Boulevard, traffic slowed to a crawl, so I started using the gaps between the parked cars in the right-hand lane to scoot by. As I approached a large, black SUV in the middle lane, the driver made an abrupt right-hand turn across my path onto a sidestreet.

    Startled, I braked as hard as I could, the crown of the road causing the rear tire to slew sideways. Instinctively, I counter-steered into the slide and maintained my composure right up to the point that I hip-checked the SUV’s right-rear fender with a thud.

    I didn’t fall, and neither vehicle was damaged, but when I rode up next to the driver’s window I could see that all of the color had drained from his face. Staring straight ahead, afraid to make eye contact, he apologized profusely for cutting me off. Much to his relief, I assured him that it was all right—no harm, no foul and all that—but reminded him that it could have been really bad.

    Why was I so forgiving? Because deep down, I knew I shared some of the responsibility. If I hadn’t been trying to make time, I wouldn’t have snuck up in his blind spot. I had failed to adhere to my two basic rules of streetbike survival: 1) Expect the worst; and 2) Never go faster than you can stop.

    I got off easy, but a couple of my friends weren’t as fortunate recently, and there are lessons to be learned from their mistakes. The first was riding home from having his bike serviced when an elderly gentleman made an illegal U-turn in front of him. My friend panicked, locked up the rear brake, flew over the hood of the car and spent the night in the hospital with cracked ribs and a contused lung. He also suffered some roadrash on his face, because although he was wearing a modular full-face helmet, he had the chin bar flipped up.

    The police report blamed the driver, but debriefing my buddy it became apparent to me that he was caught off-guard with his defenses down, just one block from home in his “comfort zone.” He shouldn’t have been: Statistically most accidents occur close to home, because our days begin and end there. Moreover, because a car turning left in front of a motorcycle is the leading cause of collisions, he should have anticipated that happening. Thankfully he’s all healed up now and is awaiting delivery of his new bike, on which he’ll hopefully ride more defensively. I know it will have anti-lock brakes.

    A few weeks before that, another of my friends was involved in a truly horrific accident that she was very lucky to survive. Late one night, she hit a parked car at speed and broke pretty much every bone on the right side of her body. She subsequently underwent numerous surgeries involving much hardware, bone and skin grafts and even a vein transplant, and it was 2½ months before she was able to get out of bed. She now faces months of rehabilitation and an uncertain future. The culprit? Demon alcohol. Statistically, nearly one-third of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve riders who were under the influence, so if you don’t drink when you ride you’ve already improved your odds substantially.

    Prison is sometimes referred to as “The House of Bad Decisions.” In motorcycling, that’s the hospital.

    Don’t go there.

    (this article is copied from Motor Cyclist magazine)
    • Like Like x 11
  2. A few years ago I was knocked off the bike by a car. I was on the left in his blind spot when the car in front of him decided to slow suddenly to turn right. The car that hit me just figured he'd zip round them in the other lane, not seeing me there, and I ended up clinging to his boot lid as my bike slid to a stop behind me. I should have seen it coming as the very reason I had moved into that lane was because cars often turn right along that strip.

    No injury. Only a broken brake lever and a handshake to say, 'Man... we're both idiots', as the driver of the car said he rides too and couldn't believe what had just happened. I saw him, he did a head check and everything. I was just in that perfect zone where I was completely invisible.

    No harm, no foul.

  3. If cars normally turn right and you expect them to change lanes quickly, then cover the horn and buffer, as soon as he hits the line hit the horn.

    Cars are predictably idiotic normally
  4. I agree with the article 100 % but why is smidsy a scam and a myth????
    • Like Like x 9
  5. I'm wondering the same as smee???

    Experienced riders know too well that as riders we need to mitigate risk well and beyond even the road laws.
    But we still need to push the smidsy message across because it's real and can sneak up on anyone if your frame of mind, timing, road conditions, etc deals you a bad hand..
    • Like Like x 3
  6. I think grange is suggesting that smidsy is effectively blaming others for situations that we, as motorcyclists, should be anticipating and avoiding.

    I feel that smidsy and personal responsibility are not mutually exclusive.

    We, as motorcyclists, need to anticipate and look after our own safety. That should go without saying. We're vulnerable and need to ride with that in mind.

    But smidsy is about educating other road users to assist us in that process by trying to make them more aware of us, and removing the idea that it is ok to just not see (because we don't look properly).

    Both are important.
    • Like Like x 3
  7. Agree with you but not his complete dismissal out of hand.
  8. I'd have agree that SMIDSY is not always the easy 'out', and while part of an accident isn't necessarily even the main reason for a collision. I know this from experience, and it is (or was) called, the l'ast chance rule' by litigators

    Simply put...if a driver fails to see a car and does something which turns into a collision, the very first question asked is 'what did the other driver do to prevent the collision, which assumes he DID see it coming. As the one who is aware of the pending doom, you are obligated to try and miss the other driver who hasn't seen you. ( if you didn't see the other idiot, they'll next be asking 'why not?'

    As is always the case, accidents are typically shades of grey, not often as simple as black and white.
    And this little game was used to great effect to mitigate the non-seeing drivers level of responsibility and blame.
    In some cases, even though a driver might have legally done the wrong thing, if the other driver was doing stupid sh!t, THAT driver could end up carrying maybe 90% of the responsibility.
    In other words, having the right of way, wasn't enough to hide behind any more.
    Not much of the stuff was necessarily known by either driver, as the insurance companies would be fighting about it while you went on your merry way (hopefully).

    The point is, you can't just hide behind SMIDSY, every time someone doesn't see you. So don't treat it like a shield you can wave around, to defend yourself.

    Calling SMIDSY - "a mythical scam", is bullsh!t. It's real, and goes on all the time, and for other cars, peds, motorbikes, trains, trucks, even planes...pretty much every form of transport, and it is not minor problem.
    Unfortunately for us, a dented mudguard for a driver, is often hospitalization for a biker.

    Anyway, as Grange has pointed out, there IS a burden of responsibility, that has to be acknowledged, and we riders have to face up to it. Which I think we do for the most part.
  9. Umm no. That a motorcycle accident could have been prevented by the rider does not mean they are responsible for it. See Pat Hahn's book Ride Hard Ride Smart for a discussion of this.

    edit. its on google books

    http://books.google.com.au/books?id...c=y#v=onepage&q=ride hard ride smargt&f=false

    p 20
  10. Good article. It's simple really, you take care of what you can control, the rest is just a lottery.
  11. Theres a difference between the legal assigning of blame to determine consequences or compensation, and us taking as many practical steps as possible to reduce injury or the likelihood of injury to us.
  12. Umm..yes.
    What you just said doesn't sound quite right :)
    A biker that can see he is going to crash if he doesn't take action and then just doesn't do anything and crashes, is not responsible in any way.

    Sorry, but that doesn't work for me.

    If it is found that you did nothing to try and avoid an accident then you may be surprised, by the outcome.
  13. I think it comes back to the age old situation where it doesn't matter how right you think you are, the big red bus will still flatten your arse if you get in it's way.

    The laws of physics and the laws of man don't necessarily agree. If you see a big red bus hurtling through a red light, even though your light is green, you might want to consider your options.
  14. That big red bus has the right of way.

    Whether its in the wrong or not,
  15. thanks twist n go! I recommend the Pat Hahn book to every road rider and you found it all online! good work.

    Page 20, saves me getting flamed trying to explain it all over and over.
    even if you don't agree with him, there are still good tips in there.
    READ IT!

    If a vehicle is under control or more commonly malcontrol, its behaviour CAN ALWAYS be predicted. You must see it, or predict it being behind something. I have been trail riding in the middle of a pine forest out whoop whoop and had a bulldozer come out in front of me from a blind spot in the trees, so don't tell me you cannot predict that cars will be on the road.

    Something else is you cannot trust a car like you can when driving a car yourself. for example any cars that MAY cross your path, must not be trusted. For instance, when a car fails to give way. Car drivers merely 'trust' that the other person will stop and give way, but on a bike this trust could cost you dearly.

    What is a lot harder to predict and react to, is an out of control vehicle, that is where the real danger is. Say a car has lost traction and is sliding into your path, etc. This would not be a smidsy situation though.