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Wisdom from a CHP Motor


GelStra

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One of the fringe bennies of where I service Ol' GelStra is the that the place is crawlin' with LEOs to talk survival strategy. Couple of the Motor's Pearls:

 

1. On the freeway, the safest lanes are the HOV and the #1 (closest to the center). Fewer people making last minute "Oh, crap, Myrtle, there's the exit!" moves.

2. He never rides at the pace of traffic, EVER! People forget about you if you're static. Also, a moving target is harder to hit. (Fine for him as he can go 93 MPH, 5 MPH over the flow here in L.A. eek.gif)

3. Weekends, holidays are THE most dangerous times. People are out of their normal patterns and are therefore much more unpredictable. (I never realized this one.)

4. Watch people's head movements. Where go the eyes goes the vehicle. (We're all pretty familiar with that concept.)

 

Now I know we have quite a few motors in this group. Any tidbits you'd like to share with the class?

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Obvious but perhaps worth mentioning, watch the cars for several ahead of the ones in front of you, watch for projected actions, like a guy that’s had his blinker on for several miles, a big truck in the lane several fast cars are in as they approach him (they will whip out the last minute to pass), and as you’ve stated where other people eyes are, do they see you? Do they see what you see? Are they paying attention to anything? Drive somewhat paranoid… I can’t tell you how many times thinking “that car ahead of me is going to whip into my lane for no reason” and as I got closer he did, but I was ready for it.

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Aluminum_Butt

Well, I'm not a LEO and neither is the limo driver I got this from, but I still think it's a gem:

 

Watch the tires.

 

While the head/eyes give some great clues, where the tires go is REALLY where the vehicle is going. I use it to track:

 

* Whether someone is changing into my lane.

* Whether someone is really about to turn - despite what their turn signal says.

* Whether someone is about to pull out from a side road - the rotation of the rims is usually easier to detect and more accurate than movement of the car's body.

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Francois_Dumas

I'm not a LEO, but know a few wink.gif

 

As for #3.... my father already warned me for what we called 'Sunday Drivers' when I was a kid, in the time when few people had a car and even fewer drove them regularly.

 

And although now almost everybody has TWO cars, that still is very true. Amazing how many people (yes, even here) have NO clue about driving in traffic and do the weirdest things.

 

These are the folks who only use their vehicle on Sundays, visiting relatives, sports events, major shopping. (Many of the daily chores in Europe are still done using other transportation than cars, remember?).

 

Two others that have always been and still ARE valid:

 

If the driver in the car ahead of you (anywhere really, but that's the most likely place you'll find him) is not higher than his backrest (yikes!!) or headrest (small yikes)..... BEWARE !

 

If the driver in the car ahead of you wears a cap (you know the old English style one, not a baseball cap) or a hat...... BEWARE !

 

You will most likely also recognize these because they are driving at a pace much slower than the rest of the traffic and preferably in the wrong lane on the freeware (i.e. LEFT where only faster traffic is supposed to be).

 

This knowledge has saved many 'caps' over the past 38 years.. not to mention my own hide wink.gif

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Leave the motor in gear and have room to move at a red light, Don't let off and on your brake light at red lights you'll sucker the guy behind you into thinking it's time to go- and he'll pack your lunch-leave that brake light on until it really is time to go, you guys know the rest.....

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I listened to a few motorcycle officers over the years. Generally, they advise awareness. Be aware of what is in my envelope so to speak. They talked about looking ahead 10 to 12 seconds and being aware of everything in a two second envelope around me. The hardest part of that is what is behind me.

 

A taxi driver told me to watch the front wheels of a vehicle.

 

The last item, and I got this from an old, old rider in his eighties, was to try to develop a sixth sense about what others are going to do. I guess in a nice way, he was saying trust no one when riding.

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The last item, and I got this from an old, old rider in his eighties, was to try to develop a sixth sense about what others are going to do. I guess in a nice way, he was saying trust no one when riding.

 

Funny - in a way I think that 6th sense can be defined. I often can predict when a car will change lanes in front of me - long befrore it happens. I think any good rider - if they stay aware long enough - develops the 'software' upstairs to recognize patterns and reactions of other drivers. It's almost like you can see the lady 100 ft in front of you thinking, "I think I'll change lanes now" before she actually does it. There's just something about the circumstance (other vehicles around her, maybe an exit is comingg up in the next half mile, etc) and the almost unnoticeable subtle movements of the car (starts to drift ever so slightly toward the right side of her lane) that tip her off.

 

It is kinda like having a 6th sense - but it's probably mostly just the result of staying aware and processing so much info for so long, that certain 'unpredictable' behaviors start becoming more and more predictable as time goes on.

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Aluminum_Butt

Funny - in a way I think that 6th sense can be defined. I often can predict when a car will change lanes in front of me - long befrore it happens. I think any good rider - if they stay aware long enough - develops the 'software' upstairs to recognize patterns and reactions of other drivers. It's almost like you can see the lady 100 ft in front of you thinking, "I think I'll change lanes now" before she actually does it. There's just something about the circumstance (other vehicles around her, maybe an exit is comingg up in the next half mile, etc) and the almost unnoticeable subtle movements of the car (starts to drift ever so slightly toward the right side of her lane) that tip her off.

 

+1 for this. On top of that I tend to divide cars that might move over on me into priority classes. Someone in the right lane coming up on slower traffic in their lane is an obvious high priority. I'll take big steps to make sure I'm out of their way. If their lane is open in front of them, and they're otherwise unaggressive, I'll still watch them and leave myself an out, but the priority goes down relative to all the other inputs I'm managing.

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A taxi driver told me to watch the front wheels of a vehicle.

I think this is useful only in stop-and-go situations for unannounced fare grabbing cabbie lane changes. I feel it's going to be more work than the head-watching approach with the same reward. But I'll try it.

 

To add my non-LEO (and non-cabbie) rules:

- Monitor about 1/4 mile ahead using about 2/3rd of your time. This improves situation awareness.

- Monitor about 5 car-lengths behind using the remaining 1/3rd of your time. This improves situation awareness.

- Build a mental image of traffic so that you can execute a sudden lane change without looking left or right. This get's honed over time and is not a simple directive. YMMV.

- Don't follow too closely unless it's for a quick passing move in traffic. This increases reaction time.

- Don't follow high-back vehicles unless it's for a very short duration (increasingly harder to observe this rule due to the increase in SUVs). This increases reaction time.

- Stay a little faster than traffic speed. This reduces unexpected situations from the rear.

- When approaching other vehicles, stay in it's mirrors (that means you can see driver's face in the mirror). This increases the safety margin.

- Do not exceed posted speed by more than 30mph. The main reason is managing the speed differential but another good reason is that over 30mph can be a serious offense (criminal, 8+ points, arrest, jail-time, etc) in many states.

- In traffic, always cover the clutch and brake. This improves reaction time.

- Never lane split over 30-35mph. This goes to reaction time and the driver who intentionally cuts you off because he is too pissed sitting in traffic.

- Watch your back at stops and have an exit strategy, especially downhill exit ramps, blind curve exit ramps. This prevents rear-end accidents.

- In wet conditions, watch for puddles and bow waves from oncoming traffic that can blind you. (I'll pass on aquaplaning recommendations. thumbsup.gif)

- Lastly, my personal favorite. Take a ride in India and most of the above will become second nature.

 

I observe all of the above rules (except lane-splitting) even while driving my cars.

 

One more point. In some situations, accelerating rather than braking might prevent an accident. Since this varies on an incident by incident basis and also depends on the panic profile of the rider/driver, it cannot be a rule. YMMV.

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Funny - in a way I think that 6th sense can be defined. I often can predict when a car will change lanes in front of me - long befrore it happens.

My wife says that I have an uncanny ability to do this very thing. I don't know what it is either, but I'm sure glad that I have it / can do it! thumbsup.gif

 

 

.

 

 

...but it's probably mostly just the result of staying aware...

Personally, IMHO, I think you hit nail on the preverbial head right there! And I agree totally in looking at the tire, or more specifically watching to see if the line it's keeping with the painted line it's following is staying the same or changing.

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This is a great thread. My wife always comments how I just 'know' that guy's going to change lanes, pull out, cut us off, etc. My Dad (still riding accident free at 74 yrs young) Taught me the ride like you're invisible, watch their wheels, don't be between the other guy and the exit, etc. etc. but there's some good stuff in this thread. Keep up the good work, and here's to a safe '07 for all of us.

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Francois_Dumas

I think most experienced drivers/riders have developed this 'insight'. My Nina also was amazed from the first time she sat next to me racing the german Autobahns that I always knew when to come off the throttle way before 'grandpa' or the 'Dutch caravan driver' decided to overtake the lorry 10 miles ahead of him, doing 50 mph himself and blissfully unaware of the 'GT' approaching him with well over 150......

 

It already works our for 36 years for me and I hope to never 'lose that touch' wink.gif

 

(Mind you, we're now sentenced to ALL crawl along the highways at sub-zero pace...... lmao.giflmao.giflmao.gif)

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Here's a couple I've learned over time:

 

Stay far away from rental trucks (U-Haul, Ryder, Penske). The guy who's driving it has no idea what he's doing--it may be the first time he's piloted a cage biger than his Buick.

 

If you smell burning rubber, slow down NOW and move over--a truck ahead of you is about to blow a re-tread, and rubber shrapnal will be flying everywhere. (Had this happen twice to me).

 

Remember--nobody else on the road has as much to lose as you do. Drive accordingly.

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Watch the wheels is a great one, most people don't do it and you will seem like you have a sixth sense if you do it. I also watch people's lane position on the highway, if they're wandering around the lane they're either about to make a move or they're not paying attention, either way they're worth keeping away from.

 

I also like moving slightly faster than traffic, it feels better if you're kind of dominating the traffic and moving past them also I never ever ride next to a vehicle or in a blind spot if I can avoid it. I always move right out or right through if I can.

 

Man I spend way too much time riding in traffic and not enough riding for fun. bncry.gif

 

If you enjoyed my rambling above you might enjoy a little article I wrote a while back about Motorcycle Commuting Survival Strategies:

 

http://st0nkingbyte.whizy.com/commuting_tips.html

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Dick_at_Lake_Tahoe_NV

When I'm in heavier traffic--like 2-seconds behind the car in front, I always ride following his tire--usually on the driver's side--not centered-up behind him. If something is in the road he'll straddle it and by staying behind his tire, I'll miss it-Ladder's, 2X4s, Alligators, whatever.

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Oh, I thought everybody knew that! I avoided 4 alligators last week alone!

 

 

eek.gif

Good tip, BTW. I was in the middle of the lane and rode down the LENGTH of a 2X4 once as I came around a curve on the freeway. I was over it before I had a chance to worry about my under garments. blush.gif

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One way I like to operate in traffic:

 

Assume that no one ever sees me (yes, repeat of 'invisible') but if it's obvious someone does see me, I assume they just don't care. smirk.gif

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Here's a couple I've learned over time:

 

Stay far away from rental trucks (U-Haul, Ryder, Penske). The guy who's driving it has no idea what he's doing--it may be the first time he's piloted a cage biger than his Buick.

 

And don't forget anyone with temporary tags. That person hasn't even had enough time to know how to hit the radio buttons without looking away from the road for several seconds. Quadruple your caution if you see temp tags and a cellphone.

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What I've noticed from predicting lane changers around here (North Carolina) is that people will drift toward the edge of their lane because they're looking in their outside mirror to see if they can move over. Like we always say, your vehicle follows your eyes. I love it when the turn signal goes on after the wheels have crossed the line. They just kind of wade into the next lane; if their isn't a crash or a scrape, they finish moving into it.

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Here's one, if any vehicle has broken down on the hard shoulder or at the side of the road don't fixate on it, scan the road for whats fallen off.

 

Steve

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They talked about looking ahead 10 to 12 seconds and being aware of everything in a two second envelope around me.

 

Also, look through the windshield of the vehicle in front of you. It'll provide you with a lot of insight with regard to what's about to happen.

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All of these are just great, awesome thread!

 

I can tell you that riding all the time, really helps 'keep on the wareness edge'. My dad asks how I stand riding in the traffic I do all the time. I'm just used to it. I do it almost everyday, so I never loss my riding awareness as he does because the bike sits for winter for 4 or 5 months.

 

I tend to keep the attitude that *no* one sees or cares about me. I'm so used to thinking like that all the time, it doesn't take any extra thought for me to do it. Like 2nd nature now. thumbsup.gif

 

You may not be able to avoid them all, I've had a few close calls, but anyway...

 

Something I do when I'm coming to a stop off an exit or a light, and some dumb ass is on my tail. I'll slow waaay down before I need to stop, forcing them to slow down, or think about it so they have to react early, and eventually come to a stop.

 

Or If I am stopped, and someone is comin up fast, I generally leave enough room to tap the breaks, and move up a little if they're making me feel uncomfy. Often times they'll get the hint and slow down, but sometimes not.

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Yeah, I've got the LED blinky brake light. As I'm waiting at the light, I watch my 6. If someone's coming up I hit the brake again and it does it's flashy, blinky, attention-getting thing. I can see people get on the binders right after I do it.

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Watching the tires of a left-turning vehicle is good, but I also like to watch their hands. You would be amazed at how easily you can see someone start to turn the steering wheel to make a left in front of you. Also, head tilt = cell phone.

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One of the fringe bennies of where I service Ol' GelStra is the that the place is crawlin' with LEOs to talk survival strategy. Couple of the Motor's Pearls:

 

1. On the freeway, the safest lanes are the HOV and the #1 (closest to the center). Fewer people making last minute moves.

2. He never rides at the pace of traffic, EVER! People forget about you if you're static.

3. Weekends, holidays are THE most dangerous times. People are out of their normal patterns and are therefore much more unpredictable. (I never realized this one.)

4. Watch people's head movements. Where go the eyes goes the vehicle.

 

Now I know we have quite a few motors in this group. Any tidbits you'd like to share with the class?

 

 

Funny - in a way I think that 6th sense can be defined. I often can predict when a car will change lanes in front of me - long before it happens.

 

Way back when I first went to driving school to get my driver’s license (for cars) they encouraged me to be a “defensive driver”. The instructors stressed the importance of planning ahead and driving in a non-aggressive manner. I have found this to be a good basic rule, but IMO as a motorcycle rider it is also important to be assertive, as drivers will smother you if you are too defensive/passive. I try to be decisive when I make maneuvers, as hesitation can sometimes literally get you killed.

 

Trying to develop a sixth sense can be hard, but IMO once you have it you’ll have an easier time dealing with traffic. There are many good suggestions posted and everyone has to do what works for them. However, I think it is important not to get too hung up on looking for small things, especially if you are splitting traffic. If you spend too much time looking for small hints like tires and head movement, you tend to get too focused on the vehicles immediately ahead in your path. I always try to see the “big picture”. Looking further ahead will often give you an idea of how other drivers are driving and are likely to behave as you pass them (the sixth sense – you “know” what they will do before you catch up to them).

 

If you look further ahead in traffic you will also be more likely to spot “impatient drivers” and “inattentive drivers”, whom are more likely to make sudden lane changes in front of you.

 

I have found that depending on vehicle drift is also less reliable these days, as more and more people are on their cell phones while driving. These drivers/callers often drift in their lane because they are dividing their attention between their driving and their phone call. Drivers using cell phone also typically show less amount of head movement as they prepare for a turning movement.

 

 

Commuters are usually safer drivers than “Sunday” or midday drivers as they are driving a familiar route and know where they are going. As a result, they normally make less erratic turning movements and fewer last second decisions.

 

As mentioned in the original post, the #1 lane or the carpool lane is usually the safest. Not only are these drivers less likely to make last minute decisions, but there are no cars to the left of you to worry about (reverse that if you are in the UK…).

 

Riding in the car tire tracks was also mentioned earlier. However, if you are in the left lane of a multilane roadway, you are more visible to other drivers if you are in the right tire track. Drivers typically are not as worried about colliding with motorcycles as they are about colliding with other cars (smaller threat), so it is important to make yourself as visible and imposing as possible, to discourage drivers from infringing on your space.

 

My 2 cents.

 

Be safe out there.

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AdventurePoser

Brush at least twice a day.

 

Don't hitchhike.

 

Thought I'd throw those in, in my relentless quest to make 7,000 posts... wave.gif

 

Steve

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Don't "hide" in the shadow of larger vehicles you're following (aka- tailgating). Left turners in the on-coming lane may start to execute their turn before the vehicle you're following has cleared only to find you square in their sights.

 

Chris

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Stay far away from rental trucks (U-Haul, Ryder, Penske). The guy who's driving it has no idea what he's doing--it may be the first time he's piloted a cage biger than his Buick.

Happened to me. I was following a rental truck on Storrow Dr in Boston when the driver got on the brakes real hard (screeching, sliding rear end and all). I easily avoided him and immediately realized what his problem was because there was no obstacle in front of him. He was unsure of his truck clearance and he was going into an underpass. I parked and helped the doofus.

If you smell burning rubber, slow down NOW and move over--a truck ahead of you is about to blow a re-tread, and rubber shrapnal will be flying everywhere. (Had this happen twice to me).

Thanks for that clue. I always wondered about this situation.

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If you can't see the face of the driver in front of you in his mirrors, he can't see you.

 

Any driver that puts on a baseball cap has halved his IQ; if it's on backwards, its halved again ! wave.gifthumbsup.gif

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Give a wide berth to any pickup or other open-bed truck that has anything in the back, even if it appears to be tied down. I was reminded of this last summer when a mattress suddenly become airborne a few hundred feet in front of me eek.gif

 

Lee

2002 R1150RT

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NEVER follow big boxes. You can't see what's coming, and on two laners other drivers can't see you.

 

Beware other vehicles with damage, missing mirrors, non-working lights, etc. The attitude of a driver who doesn't care about vehicle defects probably carries over to his/her driving.

 

Approaching intersections, always cover the front brake. If there is a potential for a collision, scrub off 10 mph, which effectively cuts your stopping distance in half.

 

When riding aggressively on twisty country roads, get on the brakes NOW when sight distances closes up. Simply rolling off the gas isn't enough to get the bike slowed when a hazard appears.

 

When riding side streets, watch for people inside vehicles, for exhaust from tail pipes, backup lights coming on, and front wheels turning toward the street.

 

When approaching an alley, move to the other side of the lane and cover the front brake. Alleys account for about 13% of crashes, but 17% of fatals.

 

Don't try to cross a raised pavement edge or streetcar track gently. Swerve away and then back to attack the edge at maximum angle to drive the front tire up and over.

 

On a rain-slick surface, when you're braking to a stop, ease off the brakes briefly if your tires need to cross a lane marking such as a white arrow.

 

How's that? How many more would you like?

 

pmdave

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I was sitting there reading through the list, and thinking "these all sound *very* familiar". Then I see who posted! dopeslap.gifdopeslap.gif

 

I thought I'd add this one, for those of you who ride in areas where they sand the roads:

Stay in the tire tracks after (snow) storms. That's the first area that the car tires clear the sand off. In turns, expect the tire tracks (clear area) to cut towards the inside of the turn (right to/over the yellow or fog, depending on the turn).

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Cattle guards are not only a hazard; they also should be taken as a warning of cattle and cattle poop.

 

Larger birds on the side of a road can quickly become huge, slow moving missiles.

Buzzards at your helmet will also make you want to throw-up.

 

Jimmy Carter was right about rabbits. Watch out.

grin.gif

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These from an advanced driving instructor who teaches "Defensive driving" sessions which are compulsory where I work:

 

1. Look at any road-side sign (e.g. max speed, hazard warning, etc.) and ask yourself the question "Why did the local authority spend money erecting this sign?" There IS a reason, and it's not for the good of their health. Typically it's because there has been a minimum number of accidents, i.e. others have gone before you and not fared well.

 

2. (Not sure if this applies worldwide, but...) Residents will put their garbage out on certain days of the week. Look at the handles on the bins. Which way do they face? If it's to the house, then it means that the last person to hndle it was the resident: the garbage collection truck is in the area but has not visited yet. So expect it round the next corner. If the handles are on the road side, then the last to handle it was the collector: they have been and gone.

 

3. Often on major roads you may see a small sign indicating that a public footpath exists here, and that foot passenegers have right of way. Reason is that this path was there before the highway was built, but a highway cannot stop a public right of way. So watch out for pedestrians, even where you may think they have no business being there.

 

4. Puddles at the side of the road in rainy weather. Unless you know the road like the back of your hand, avoid them. You just do not know how deep they are. An innocent looking puddle may actually hide a rather large pothole.

 

5. Saw this one elsewhere, but... Watch your shadow. If it's long and in front of you, then it means the sun is low and right in the eyes of oncoming traffic. They may not be able to see you properly.

 

I'm due the course again soon (annual refresher), so might be able to top this one up.

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2. (Not sure if this applies worldwide, but...) Residents will put their garbage out on certain days of the week. Look at the handles on the bins. Which way do they face? If it's to the house, then it means that the last person to hndle it was the resident: the garbage collection truck is in the area but has not visited yet. So expect it round the next corner. If the handles are on the road side, then the last to handle it was the collector: they have been and gone.

 

 

Not if they use a mechanical arm to grab the cans and empty them. smile.gif

 

My two rules for many years of using a motorcycle as my only transport...

 

1. Every one is aiming for you

2. If they are not in a position to aim for you, they will do something unbelievably stupid. Plan accordingly. thumbsup.gif

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If the driver in the car ahead of you wears a cap (you know the old English style one, not a baseball cap) or a hat...... BEWARE !

 

 

Cripes. I wear one of those.

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If the driver in the car ahead of you wears a cap (you know the old English style one, not a baseball cap) or a hat...... BEWARE !

 

 

Cripes. I wear one of those.

 

I think he meant everyone but you

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  • 4 weeks later...

Ok, not a MOTOR but I do have their website saved on Favorites so I think that qualifies me to talk about our sixth senses...

 

Personally, I think they're a result of the collections of unconsious observations we make about a billion times a second. Stuff WAY over our concious ability to process but within our total processing ability.

 

The subtle change in shadow caused by an imperceptable change in vector of the Rambler two cars ahead as the lady shifts her eyes to her side mirror to check before changing lanes...like I said, about a billion times a second.

 

The "sense" is to "listen" to it which comes from the wisdom gained of LONG motorcycle rides without audio enhancement, psychcadelic experiences of past decades or just plain smarts.

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Oh, I thought everybody knew that! I avoided 4 alligators last week alone!

 

 

eek.gif

Good tip, BTW. I was in the middle of the lane and rode down the LENGTH of a 2X4 once as I came around a curve on the freeway. I was over it before I had a chance to worry about my under garments. blush.gif

 

Everyone knows there are only Crocadiles in CA....so I am calling phooey!

 

Kaisr thumbsup.gif

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Tires

 

Good point. As it is often hard to see into the car to see the driver, I do watch tires really closely.

 

Particularly helpful with big rigs...I watch the left front wheel very closely when passing for even a slight movement...

 

Phil..........Redbrick

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If you can't see the face of the driver in front of you in his mirrors, he can't see you.

 

Any driver that puts on a baseball cap has halved his IQ; if it's on backwards, its halved again ! wave.gifthumbsup.gif

 

What if it's on sideways?...We have those in California too...I suppose we'd divide the remaining intelligence in half again...Let's see; that leaves 1/8 of normal I think....About right....

 

Phil.......Redbrick

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1. The number one lane is the preferred lane for all roads, unless conditions dictate otherwise. This applies to freeways and surface streets. Freeway traffic has been addressed; surface streets because of ped traffic, bicycles, and cross traffic on side streets.

 

2. At night, use the headlights of the vehicles in front of you for surface appraisal and hazard identification.

 

3. The speed of your scoot is based upon your ability to avoid hazards, not based upon your self perceived skill level.

 

4. Never travel behind a vehicle you cannot see around. On the same subject, never travel behind a vehicle carrying a load of anything.

 

5. Never stop directly behind another vehicle at a sign or signal. Offset, or lane share at the front.

 

6. When passing through an intersection, use a car or truck to shield you from cross traffic and red light runners.

 

7. Always select parking that is covered over parking that is closer. The added benefits include protection from the sun, weather, and dive bomber seagulls.

 

8. Always use a jimmy hat.

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6. When passing through an intersection, use a car or truck to shield you from cross traffic and red light runners.

 

one of my favorites..

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My two rules for many years of using a motorcycle as my only transport...

 

1. Every one is aiming for you

2. If they are not in a position to aim for you, they will do something unbelievably stupid. Plan accordingly. thumbsup.gif

 

Nearly exactly what I was told many years ago ... "drive like every other vehicle / driver is out to run in to you".

Thanks to uncle Whit! thumbsup.gif

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Any driver that puts on a baseball cap has halved his IQ; if it's on backwards, its halved again ! wave.gifthumbsup.gif

 

... and if it's on sideways, it's divided by 8.

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