Motorcycles vulnerable to turning crashes

Could self-cancelling indicators prevent T-bone crashes? safety contract turning

Most accidents involving motorcycles and other vehicles occur when the other vehicle is turning across their path.

The result can be lethal as the rider hits the car in a t-bone fashion, rather than a glancing blow.

There are a number of scenarios of turning-vehicle crashes where the rider is completely blameless and others where they are at partial or complete fault.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is if the rider is dead.

Most common turning crashes

These are the four most common crash situations where the other motorist is turning, often without looking for motorcycles:

  1. Oncoming driver turns across the rider’s path to enter a property or side street;
  2. Vehicle pulls out of a side street into the path of the motorcycle;
  3. Motorist pulls over to perform a u-turn without looking; and
  4. A vehicle in front suddenly turns without indicating just as a rider is overtaking them.

Look for these signs

We all know drivers don’t look for motorcyclists for a variety of reasons.

So riders need to assume the worst and look out for these signs in the above impending SMIDSY (Sorry Mate, I didn’t See You) situations:

  1. If an approaching vehicle has its indicators on, assume they may turn without giving way to you and look for movement of the wheels and the driver’s head turning;
  2. Be suspicious of all vehicles coming out of side streets (left or right) and again check their wheels and the driver’s head to see if they have seen you;
  3. Treat any vehicle that pulls over as a possible u-turn or at least that they will suddenly open their door and step out in front of you; and
  4. If the vehicle in front suddenly slows, don’t take the opportunity to pass them. Be cautious that they could be about to make a turn, even if they haven’t indicated.

How to avoid SMIDSY crashesTurning crash

In all the above four situations, slow down and be prepared to take some sort of evasive action, looking for a possible escape route.

If the driver is on a side street or oncoming, try to make eye contact with them.

Make yourself seen by moving in your lane.

You can also alert drivers to your presence by blowing your horn or flashing your lights, although these may be illegal in some jurisdictions and could give the false message that you are letting them cross your path.

Don’t trust loud pipes to save you. Most drivers have their windows up, air-conditioning on and the radio turned up loud, so they may not hear you, anyway.

Besides, in all these situations, your pipes are facing away from the driver.

5 Comments

  1. I read and hear a lot about car drivers at fault. A statement early in this article is what I have always adhered to. Quote “But in the end, it doesn’t matter whose fault it is if the rider is dead.” I prefer to give my-right-of-way away to the driver until I am sure they are not going to take it anyway. Police always say “Speed Kills” well in these cases it does even if your within the speed limit. If you fly down the roads thinking you have the-right-of-way then you will not be able to avoid the incident and they usually end badly for the biker despite who is at fault.

    1. Police lie!
      Speed never kills, as is confirmed by your stating” even if within the speed limit “.
      It is the riders judgement that is at fault choosing a speed not appropriate to the road conditions and the riders skills and abilities.
      One can die at 40kmh and walk away at 100kmh accidents.

  2. “If an approaching vehicle has its indicators on, assume they may turn without giving way to you and look for movement of the wheels and the driver’s head turning” — I always watch the wheels, never trust indicators, I do this on bike and when in a car. Just because driver has left hand blinker on doesn’t mean they are going to turn left.

    1. In WA it seems that turn indicators are optional. Very many drivers think they are “confirmation of turn” and only use them when half way around the turn. This is particularly noticeable at traffic roundabouts where no one knows what an approaching drivers’ intensions are before they enter the roundabout, you only find out afterwards when they might confirm that they really did intend to turn.
      You can put most of these bad driving habits down to two causes….poor quality driving instruction and bad attitude.

  3. Things left out of the list.
    Beware lines of stationary or slow moving traffic even when it’s in the opposing lane, idiots will pop out unexpectedly.
    Beware of tailgaters even when they are in front of you.
    Never trust someone who seems to be looking right into your eyes, they probably don’t even see you.

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