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The Seven survival skills.

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by robsalvv, Apr 8, 2011.

  1. The following article has been taken from the megarider website, a NZ motorcycling website with a very strong focus on safe motorcycling... and surprisingly seems to be using some outdated info at times. But anyway, this article seems mostly good. See what you think.


    [SIZE=+2]The Seven Survival Skills[/SIZE]
    [SIZE=+2]W[/SIZE]hile most motorcyclists say that they believe that rider training is a good thing, nearly 90% don't bother taking any training. One of the reasons given for this is that, because of all the skills that are taught at these courses, most of the rider training courses take quite a few hours to do.

    That's why the NZMSC decided to carry out a study to discover the minimum number of skills a rider had to learn to have a really good chance of avoiding an expensive and painful crisis is his or her riding life. And what better place to start that motorcycle crash statistics? After all, if there are a limited number of common crashes involved, a look at the skills essential to avoid those crashes would tell us what the essential survival skills are and would also identify the blue moon skills. Blue moon skills are the skills that one rarely has to use and, indeed, may never use, such as the skill of accelerating and pulling up on the front wheel if about to hit debris or a big pothole on the road.

    What we found was interesting because the results seem to hold good for any western country where motorcycle crashes are a problem.

    There appear to be three main types of motorcycle crashes. These are:
    - Collision With Another Vehicle (usually a car and usually one that is changing direction)
    - Failure To Make It Around A Corner
    - Head-On Collision.

    Having found these general category of crashes, we then looked at the basic riding skills that were required to avoid each crash. While we found that there were some common skills required in virtually every crash situation, such as the Emergency Braking skill, some specialist skills were required for some types of crash and some of these specialist skills were quite complex.

    By the end of our study we had discovered that the three main types of motorcycle crashes appeared to account for well over 90% of all crashes (and, indeed, 99% of all serious crashes) and that there were six skills required to avoid these crashes.

    The Essential Survival Skills:
    Emergency Braking.
    Emergency Braking is an obvious survival skill. In a crisis situation one needs to be able to scrub off speed fast to either avoid crashing into something or to reduce the severity of the impact.

    A less obvious fact about emergency braking on a motorcycle is that if the emergency braking isn't done properly, this itself can cause a crash. In a crash situation in a car, locked wheels simply reduce the extent of speed reduction. On a motorcycle, locked wheels (and especially when the front wheel is locked) are likely to cause the bike to go out of control and the rider to crash.

    In the first two years of riding, most riders untrained in emergency braking skills tend to lock the front brake under hard braking. More often than not this causes the inexperienced rider to fall off. Whether this crash is serious or not is usually mainly a matter of luck. After getting one or two frights when the wheel locks up, the untrained rider can get quite scared of using the front brake, the most effective brake on the machine, and can make him or her extremely vulnerable in a crash situation.

    Research by Harry Hurt of the University of California has established that only a small minority of riders use their brakes correctly in a crash situation. Most use only the back brake (which only provides about 20% of the machine's total stopping power) while about a third apply no brakes at all! It has been suggested this happens because the rider, having fallen off under brakes in the past, is scared of his brakes.

    Getting used to using your bike's brakes in emergency mode is essential to you and your bike's health and survival. Just reading up on the procedures and factors involved in emergency braking will go a long way to reducing your chances of a crash as you will have a database of information in your brain that it can use to work out the right thing to do in a crisis situation.

    Direction Perspective
    The eyes play a major role in the control of a motorcycle. Direction Perspective involves the way your brain uses the message from your eyes to balance, steer and control the machine during riding. On a motorcycle, where you look is where you go and, to establish your direction perspective, you must use your eyes correctly. The way the rider uses his eyes also plays an important part in anticipating the actions of other vehicles around him and in the messages he sends to other motorists in conflict situations, such as where a car is rolling up to as Yield sign at an intersection.

    Manoeuvre Anticipation
    Anticipating what a vehicle is likely to do in a conflict situation involves a number of skills, many of them quite complex. Yet, looking at the most common motorcycle/car crash situations, the NZMSC discovered that there were only a small number of anticipatory skills which, when carried out in a specific order, enables the rider to anticipate the likely actions of the driver, the movement, and speed etc of the car. This then enables the rider to avoid running into a car driven by a careless driver.

    Hazard Perception
    Hazard perception is the ability to recognise a hazard for what it is. Thus, a rider with good hazard perception will note as a hazard a car slowing at an intersection ahead with its indicator indicating that the driver intends to turn across the rider’s path. A rider with lesser hazard perception may take it that the vehicle is no hazard as the motorcycle has the theoretical/lawful right of way.

    Hazard perception is a mental skill and involves attitudinal factors and an active learning process to master to any extent. When it comes to hazard perception, learning the hard way can be painful or fatal!

    Accident Survival
    Sometimes, no matter how good the rider is, he or she will be invited to join someone else's crash and will be unable to decline the invitation. Where a rider crashes, there is a specific set of actions and reactions the rider can make that will greatly reduce the chances of being seriously hurt in the crash.

    A simple example is where the bike slides out from under the rider. In this situation the rider should always try to slide rather than tumble. This way he can better see where he’s going, he can use his hands and feet to steer away from danger, and his body will not tumble with the extremities at risk of snapping as they impact with the ground or parked cars etc.

    A skill that has only become widely recognised in the last decade, countersteering is the technique of using gyroscopic precession to cause the motorcycle to change direction quickly and accurately.
    This skill is often essential in a crash situation where a rapid and accurate change of direction may mean the difference between a near miss and a full impact.

    Risk Management.
    A modern management tool in big business, risk management is the skill of identifying risks, calculating their severity, deciding whether one wishes to carry that risk and, if one doesn’t, how to counter that risk. In the case of the motorcyclist, this is a matter of identifying the risks in riding (for example, the risks of riding fast in a specific location) and deciding whether that risk is one he or she is willing to take.

    Most riders, until taught this skill, do not even consider the risks involved in riding in any logical way. Either the risk is considered as a whole (the risk of riding a motorcycle) and, as a whole is too large to make an informed decision upon (and is thus filed in the Too Hard basket of the rider's brain), or is unfocused (for example, riding in one particular location at an excessive speed is not considered as a risk in relation to the speed sensible for that location but as the speed "I normally ride at").
    When given some basic pointers on the ways to use risk management in his or her riding, the rider is, for example, more likely to be selective in his speeding and to take a sensible and considered approach to risk.

    Risk management is, of course a high level riding skill and it is often only very experienced road riders who practice it, and then only in a subconscious manner if they haven't studied the process. Risk management is ideally suited to riding a motorcycle as it is a process that allows the rider to make his own value judgements in its use, such as the judgement of the extent of risk the rider is willing to expose himself too. But, whatever the value judgement, it must be based on a sensible baseline - basically one of staying unhurt while riding.

    The Crashes.
    Collision With Another Vehicle
    Even a cursory study of most Western countries' road crash statistics reveals that by far the majority of motorcycle crashes involve a car, and usually one that is turning. Mobile obstacles in the form of cars are probably the greatest threat to the motorcyclist’s well-being on modern roads.

    Of the car/motorcycle crashes, the majority are intersection accidents where the car driver is usually at fault and, in fact, makes not one, but two driving faults - not checking adequately and failing to give way.
    It is our belief that car-turning/intersection crashes are the most common motorcycle crashes for the simple reason that surviving the careless car driver requires a rider to have all seven essential motorcycle survival skills. Yet, unless specifically taught these skills when getting a licence, most beginner riders will not be fully equipped with these skills and will thus be vulnerable. This belief is reinforced by the fact that motorcycle crash statistics show that beginner riders are disastrously over-represented in motorcycle crashes. It logically follows that more experienced riders crash less because they’ve learnt survival skills from experience, often very hard experience.

    In order to avoid the Collision With Another Vehicle type of accident, the motorcyclist must have a knowledge of risk management to be prepared for trouble in risky locations, have hazard perception to recognise the hazard, have a basic grip of manoeuvre anticipation to see and judge the likely movement of any car in conflict with him or her, and must employ the direction perspective skill to take advantage of any escape routes that are available, etc. He or she must also be well equipped with emergency braking skills in order to scrub off speed, especially if there are no gaps available, and know how to change direction hard and fast should the need arise. Finally, should the worst come to the worst, the rider's chances are greatly increased if he or she is equipped with accident survival skills.

    Failure To Negotiate A Corner.
    There are basically two main reasons a rider fails to get around a corner and, although most Police motorcycle crash reports use the words Excessive Speed in reports on corner crashes, where a slippery surface is not involved most of these accidents happen at speeds at which the machine being ridden can theoretically safely negotiate the corner. The problem, our rider training experience indicates, lies in a lack of riding skills and, in particular, the direction perspective skill. This is also known as Target Fixation.

    The typical scenario is where a rider enters a corner, suddenly thinks he or she is going a bit fast and sees a hazard ahead, either roadside furniture or an oncoming vehicle. In panic the rider's eyes fix on the hazard and the bike goes where the rider looks...

    Reinforcing our view is the fact that a very large number of motorcycle crashes involve the machine T boning a lamppost in a rural area. Think of a lamppost in a rural area. It is usually surrounding by clear space. Think how slim a lamppost is and of the narrowness of the motorcycle. Yet bike and pole impact dead on! The rider looks at the lamppost because he or she is scared of hitting it and the machine goes where he or she looks!
    A vivid example of target fixation was a recent multiple fatality crash in Wellington, New Zealand where two Harley Davidson motorcycles had a head-on crash on an open road corner. Both riders on a corner, one on the wrong side of the road. They saw each other, eyes locked, and CRASH! Two thin motorcycles hit head-on.

    For the NZMSC, further confirmation of this idea of target fixation comes with the common road crash statistic that parked cars are the most common object that motorcycles crash into in single vehicle crashes.
    In view of all this, the skills a rider needs to avoid cornering disasters include the direction perspective skill, emergency braking skills, and accident survival skills.

    Head On Collisions.
    When one considers how slim a motorcycle is, one could well wonder why the third most common motorcycle crash is a head-on collision, especially since these are usually head-on collisions on a straight road. The answers lie in the youthful motorcyclist's tendency to regularly use the ample power his machine has to pass slower traffic, and the Target Fixation phenomenon.

    The solutions to the high rate of head-on collisions are six of the essential survival skills: Hazard Perception to recognise the hazard, Risk Management to help provide the rider with self control, Direction Perspective to avoid target fixation and allow the use of escape routes, Emergency Braking where escape routes are not available and/or a sharp turn is required, Countersteering when hard and fast swerving is required and, when all else fails, Accident Survival skills to enable to rider to minimise the seriousness of the impact.

    Seven Survival Skills
    Thus, there are seven main survival skills a rider needs to avoid/survive about 95% of all motorcycle crashes. This 95% of crashes encompasses virtually all of the life-threatening accidents. While some of the skills are relatively sophisticated, they are not beyond the learning ability of novice riders.

    The skills and their related crashes are:

    Collision with turning car
    Direction perspective, manoeuvre anticipation, accident survival, hazard perception, countersteering, risk management, emergency braking.

    Failure to Negotiate Corner
    Direction perspective, emergency braking, accident survival.

    Head-On Collision
    Risk management, direction perspective, hazard perception emergency braking, accident survival, countersteering.

    There are many other motorcycle riding skills that a rider should learn to be absolutely safe but these are Blue Moon skills, needed very rarely and thus have a lower priority in the learning program.

    It is the NZMSC's belief that a motorcycle safety programme that focuses on teaching these seven essential survival skills would be a very cost-effective way of reducing motorcycle crashes and their associated economic and social costs.

    It is for this reason that the NZMSC has been writing and publishing books covering these essential riding skills. Published to date are books on Emergency Braking, Cornering, Accident Survival, the Golden Rules of Riding, Crashes and Crises (Learning from others’ mistakes) and Mental Machine Control.

    We are presently working on a new website which will have these and other motorcycling ebooks available on it.

  2. "Hazard perception is the ability to recognise a hazard for what it is. Thus, a rider with good hazard perception will note as a hazard a car slowing at an intersection ahead with its indicator indicating that the driver intends to turn across the rider’s path. A rider with lesser hazard perception may take it that the vehicle is no hazard as the motorcycle has the theoretical/lawful right of way."

    for Melbourne cross that bit out and replace with ESP or the ability to read minds.
  4. Good find, Rob

    While I understand and sympathis where you are coming from , not sure you are 100% correct. Every now and then my spidey senses tingle and I back off only to find someone does something that could have hurt me. I suspect what happesn is that I have sub-conciously picked up clues as to what another motorist is doing and decided to move somewhere else.

    The article seems to recognise that those clues may be out there and we need to be more adept at picking them up.

    Having said that I do understand that now and then someone does something so completely off the wall that no-one in their right mind would have anticipated it. And that no one expects the Spanish Inquisition.
  5. I agree. Someone has or had a link in their sig, it was a website with 100's of random motorcycle tips and tricks to make you a smarter better rider. One of them was to always trust your subconscious. If you're behind a car and it doesn't feel right move. If you wake up ready for a ride and just dont feel right, don't ride.

    I completely agree, our subconscious picks up on a lot more than we think.
  6. I'm going with this.... Riding with this mentality seems to result in the least amount of stressful situations.
  7. 8. Fit loud pipes. They'll save your life.
  8. seven survival skills ? easy


    or the original