Any rider worth their salt knows intersections are treacherous for motorcyclists. Other drivers turning into a rider’s path cause thousands of crashes, injuries and fatalities every year.
There are innumerable reasons motorists do this: They may not be able see us; they may not look for us; they may look but fail to see us; they may see us, but fail to recognize how close we are. No matter why, the result is often a sudden need for a rider to slow, stop or change position.
The Problem Behavior
While we can’t change others’ behavior, we can change our own. The mistake riders make in these situations is entering intersections unprepared – assuming the best about the other drivers’ intentions and taking no precautions.
We all hope motorists expect to see motorcycles in traffic and that they look twice before pulling out. But we can’t rely on hope. Riders need to use good judgment and make good decisions about speed and position to avoid intersection crashes.
Act, Don't React
Don’t leave your fate to chance – prepare for the worst. The worst that could happen is another driver suddenly lurches straight into your path at the exact moment it’s too late for you to do anything about it.
So don’t wait until it’s too late. As you approach an intersection with a car waiting to turn, reduce your speed – decelerating even a little bit buys you time and space, and assists the transition to maximum braking if necessary. Position yourself to make eye contact with the other driver. Cover your brakes (both front and rear) and be ready to stop without laying the bike down.
Never accelerate toward an intersection with a vehicle waiting to turn – try to always approach “on the decel.” As you approach, position yourself to be seen, and leave yourself an out – an escape route you can deploy if Plan A goes sideways. Expect the other vehicle to turn, and at the worst possible moment.
One caveat: If all these precautions still fail, you have to know how to use your brakes effectively – getting slowed or stopped is the best defense you have when everything else goes wrong. Training is the way to learn maximum braking. Team Oregon offers a $79 braking clinic for endorsed riders to up their game.