TOTW: Try to go through intersections with an escort

The riding tips on these pages are my personal opinion about matters related to motorcycle riding. They are not the official position of any organization, and are for your consideration only. They are not hard and fast rules, they should not necessarily be applied in all circumstances, and they should not be applied without thinking. Always use your judgement and take all current safety factors into account while riding. You are responsible for your riding, not anyone else (especially me). These tips were originally published by a motorcycle riding course, called “Tip of the Week” (the reason for the TOTW in the titles).

What’s the problem?

Most multiple-vehicle motorcycle accidents occur in or near an intersection. Most involve a car that turned (usually left) in front of, or into, the motorcycle. The drivers of those cars usually claim that they didn’t see the motorcycle.

Solution

If you have taken motorcycle training (and you should), you have heard that you should try to increase your visibility through the use of bright clothing. However, it is still wise to assume that other drivers can’t see you, and act accordingly.

One way to respond to your invisibility to is to use other, larger, vehicles as escorts. For example, consider this situation:

If you, the motorcylist at #3, assume the driver of left-turning car #1 can’t see you, you will realize they will probably make their turn after the oncoming car #2 passes, and they might hit you. Realising you are invisible, you could change your position to be escorted through the intersection by a larger, more visible, vehicle, like this:

They still may not see you, but they’ll see car #2 and won’t enter the intersection.

However

This is a general principle, and may not always be the right thing to do. For example:

  • Ensure you’re not in the escort vehicle’s blind spot. Note, above, that the bike has moved well forward so the escort driver can see him. Otherwise a lane change by the escort could result in a collision.
  • Remember your escort doesn’t have to be the vehicle in front of you. Slowing slightly to be escorted by the one behind you will work just as well. The key is to recognise the left-turning car ahead as a hazard, and take positive action to control who is in the intersection with you.
  • Don’t create a hazard while trying to execute this manoeuvre. If you have to go unreasonably fast or unreasonably slow to link up with an escort vehicle, you are creating a risk greater than the situation you’re trying to resolve.

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