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To stop or go at amber lights.

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Jomac, Nov 24, 2007.

  1. Was reading the posts from the L rider who was hit from behind after emergency braking and it reminded me of a similar dilemma.

    I've been driving a car for decades but am new to riding motorcylces.

    Having read how a large number of injuries are caused from riders going through amber lights being cleaned up by cars turning right, when lights turn amber,and I know that traffic is trying to turn right I want to stop to let cars turn.

    Problem is while I am ok braking to a quick stop- I really worry about the cars behind me, I do a quick look and if they look like they are going for it I feel forced to carry on.

    Does anyone else feel this sort of pressure? Am I too paranoid? What do you do?
  2. I think most of us would feel it? I feel that too. It's these
    nervous moments that will teach you to develop good habits that
    will keep you alive later on.

    You've got 3 options,
    go through and hope,
    stop and hope, or
    stop while swerving out of the way of the car behind you (eg onto
    footpath, into right turn lane, etc).

    At this point it helps if you are going slowly enough on the approach to the intersection that you have adequate time to stop smoothly without sudden or harsh braking. That would also allow you adequate time to slow down and dodge up onto the footpath if necessary. Unfortunately none of us is
    perfect all the time and occasionally we will get caught out approaching
    at a higher speed.

    I guess the moral is, keep your speed down when approaching any
    'complexity' in the road like an intersection, curve, reduction in lanes, etc;
    and have a plan for an emergency escape route e.g. footpath, into the right turn lane...
  3. +1 HOTCAM
    I usually try to go for option 2. ( Stop and Hope )
    What I also do, when possible is do a quick lane change (early) into a lane that is empty ( ie no cars behind me ).

    Great Advice from HOTCAM >>
    "it helps if you are going slowly enough on the approach to the intersection that you have adequate time to stop smoothly without sudden or harsh braking"

    I havent been riding long, but I think 28 years in a cage helped me realise how LITTLE most drivers THINK, SEE & PRE-EMPT.
    I was probably one of those drivers.. Thank God I ride, cause I'm now also becoming a BETTER and MotorCycle Aware driver.
    Take Care out there :biker:
  4. Jomac, technically an amber light is a stop light. Road rules say you should stop for a yellow light unless unsafe to do so.

    Also, you should be approaching a stale green light with caution, cause it could go amber.

    But in the light going amber situation, if there isn't a stream of cars going through the intersection then I think the risk of a right turning car racing the lights is high.

    One trick to employ when heading into an intersection is to set up the brakes so that your light goes on, but you're not actually braking. The automaton behind you should react to the brake light thinking you're slowing down. If you then need to slow down, his reaction times are already dealt with.

    By the way, Hotcam has the rest well covered.
    Stay safe.
  5. out of curiosity, what is the legallity if you run a red with a red light camera because if someone was going to run up your arse if you did stop?

    happened to me recently, coming over a crest through gordon on the pacific hwy in syndey, lights went orange, red light camera, thought i could get through, but i didnt want to push it. so i hit the brakes, sure enough heard the screech of tyres behind me, and LUCKILY there was a turn right lane to merge into to come to a stop, the phuck knuckle in the camery behind me who just mananged to stop on the line was laughing at me. if i didnt have the turn lane i would have had to run the red, and cop the fine...
  6. The law says, above all else you must strive to avoid a crash. So your only
    problem in that instance would be to show that you needed to avoid a crash.
    If the other driver showed up behind you in the photo with
    smoking tyres that'd be pretty good proof I guess?
  7. robsalvv +100 mate. Hit it on the head.

    Always trail a bit of rear brake leading into ANY intersection. Stale green amber or otherwise. By doing this you will almost always get the peanut behind you to start backing off a good few yards, and because his brakes are covered, your chances improve enormously in an e-brake situation.

    I always move to the left of my lane through intersections as well to provide maximum visibility for any peanuts that are trying to turn right in front of you.

    And my own offensive riding tip, don't hesitate at the lights. Trailing the rear brake is very different to slowing down. If you slow down, right turn peanut takes that as an invitation to cut you off, and almost always will. If you are going to go through, commit to it, and go through.
  8. The key here is to expect the light to change, so look in the mirrors. How close are the cars behind??? If i stop hard, are they likely to hit me, is there an escape route??? Second, is there any cars waiting to turn right?? If yes, they will likely dive across as soon as the lights change, so expect this and make a decision based on this, i believe if any of the above are true, you should cover brake, mayb tap it a little to get drivers attention from behind, this at least makes them think of you, they will think "what is this guy doing, what has he seen that i have missed" If the lights are orange, flash lights, hopefully this will attract attention from oncoming vehicles, even use horn if unsure.
  9. Anyone can feel free to correct me here but if I had the choice between being rear ended or t-boned by a right turner, I'd take the rear end. A rear ender hits your bike first, where as a t-bone could smash straight into your leg. I'd prefer my bike to absorb the initial impact rather than my body.
  10. Both will hurt bad Tiger Grrl.

    You're unlikely to end up with a shortened leg by being smashed into from behind... but there's a good chance, if it's a bad enough shove from behind, you will end up quite seriously damaged, if not dead... severe whip lash is one possibility... another would be being pushed into cross traffic - very very nasty.


    Moral of the story - (captain obvious 101) avoid collisions or being collided into.
  11. I tend to check out the intersection, if it has people turning right, I am more likely to stop for amber lights, but I also check the mirrors to see how far away the nearest car is from me. if they are close / speeding, I will tend to go through.

    I also have a habit of alternating through the lights, so the first one I will go through, second one stop, third go through etc... all depends on the circumstances at the time =D
  12. It is easier to try and avoid something that is right in front of you, that you can see,you have less chance of avoiding something coming up behind you cause you dont know exactly where they are turning to avoid you :shock:
  13. So - taking notes, when approaching an intersection with green light:

    1) Change lane position to ensure maximum visibility, also making yourself more conspicuous with lateral motion.
    2) Check for potential right-hand turns into your path, or other cross traffic.
    3) Check rear mirrors for proximity of other cars.
    4) If being followed closely, activate brake light to prime follower for a stop (without slowing enough to imply to anyone in front you're stopping).
    5) If the light turns orange, pull up unless it is unsafe to do so ( bracing for death from front-right and behind ).

    I've really gotta train myself not to dash through at the end (!)

    As a side note, the first few orange lights I got ( on my L's, with very little city car experience ) I pretty much skidded on the oily residue into the middle of the intersection. Not real smooth ...
  14. paging "drew"
    he showed his outstanding awareness waiting at the lights not so long ago. a good lesson to be learned from him :)
  15. Defensive riding

    Thanks for your defesive riding strategies. Got me thinking and researching.

    American statistics say less than 4% of fatalities are caused from bikes being rear ended so I suppose it is better to stop (with brake warning) for best odds. Given that communting to work is in heavy traffic engineering space in the next lane is near on impossible.

    Started reading about swerving - a skill that you'd think would be madatory for a rider to have before being granted a licence.

    The "look where you want to go" not at what your want to avoid skill. Anyone done that in an emergency situation? I reackon it would take quite a bit of nerve to ignore what you think is going to kill you to locate a nice opening through the railing, traffic, people or curbs and onto a footpath.

    I'm booking into an advanced rider course as soon as one comes up.
  16. In Vic at least, "swerving" is a mandatory part of the testing. That's the part of the test where you approach the left/right/stop light and then do what the light says.

    They call it the countersteering test. Stupid name.