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Riding in the USA


BereIsland

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I'm off to the UN thumbsup.gif besides riding on the other side of the road, are there any specials concerns for a Brit riding in the States? I have one question though, how should I behave if I get pulled over by the Police?

 

Steve

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Thanks Francoise. I'm off to Fayetteville for the UnRally. I'm leaving from Heathrow on Saturday to pick up a hire bike from Washington DC. I have driven in the States when I visited Minneapolis a couple of years ago, but I was just wondering if there are any things specific to bike riding that I should be aware of. I was getting a Harley for the ride but it turns out they have none available so I'm getting a Honda VTX. Should be fun, I hope grin.gif

Steve

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I don't recall if it's allowed in GB, but in the states it's permissible to make a right turn on a red light, AFTER coming to a full stop and provided the cross traffic allows safe space/distance/lane to do so (in GB it would be a left turn). It's up to you if you want to, but I mention it in case someone behind you waiting to turn gets impatient, you'll know why. As an aside, it is sometimes posted as NOT allowed, and there may still be one or two states in which it is not allowed. But by and large it is.

 

Filtering is not allowed except in California.

 

As for getting pulled over by the police, they're just like you. They don't know who the "other guy" is, so behave in a manner that puts them at ease and makes them feel in control. You can dismount unless told otherwise. Remove your helmet so they can see your face. This also indicates that you have no fear of being identified as well as your intention not to run. Stand next to the bike with your hands in plain sight, never in your pockets. Have your papers at the ready, but don't reach for them, whether they be on the bike or in a pocket, until told to do so. You'll receive instructions from the officer.

 

Usually, someone who is here from another country, especially from a left-drive country, gets the benefit of the doubt unless the transgression is blatant and dangerous. Speeding is speeding. An awkward/unsignaled lane change would probably be forgiven.

 

I doubt you'll have any problems. If you've ever survivied London traffic, I doubt there's anything we have here that would trouble you, except perhaps downtown Boston. But that's another story. wink.gif

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how should I behave if I get pulled over by the Police?

I'd begin by kneeling and saying, "No taxation without representation", thirteen times.

 

grin.gif

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I'm off to the UN ...... how should I behave if I get pulled over by the Police?

Ask for diplomatic immunity. :trofl:

 

I'll tell them in my English accent I'm 007 on a mission grin.gif

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Cheers, being able to turn right on a red makes sense to me. We are not allowed to turn left here, unless your on a push bike wink.gif

 

Steve

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Pull over using signals. Put flashers on if the bike has them.

 

Shut off the bike, put the side stand down (communicates no intent to run) but leave your helmet on. Keep your hands visible from the rear at all times. Do nothing more until the LEO approaches. Ask him/her only then if you can take your helmet off.

 

Ask/explain each step you are going to do before you do it from then on. NO SUDDEN MOVES! For example if he/she says, "Can I see your operator's license?" Reply as appropriate, "Yes sir/ma'am, it's in my inside coat pocket, I'm going to reach inside to get it." AFTER they say "OK", then do so. And so on.

 

For example I keep my registration and insurance papers in the rear top case, so my answer to a request to see them is, "Sir I need to get off the bike and get into my rear case to retrieve them, is that OK?"

 

If you have a fire arm anywhere, tell the officer all the details the very first thing!

 

Be courteous but admit nothing! No you don't know why he/she stopped you, no you don't know how fast you were going, etc. Anything you say is a potential admission of guilt.

 

Of course there are a-holes in any profession, but by-and-large if you act calm, respectful, and non-threatening, they will just be professional, even occasionally friendly!

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Joe Frickin' Friday
I have one question though, how should I behave if I get pulled over by the Police?

 

Pilgrim has the best write-up I've seen so far. Click here to read it. In addition to advising on the correct behavior, it'll help you understand the officer's perspective, which will make the importance of correct behavior just that much more clear.

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Why not take your helmet off? I always have and it's never been a problem, I want the cop to see immediately that I'm an old man not some young punk wink.gif, and I need to get those earplugs out so that I can hear what he's saying.

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Why not take your helmet off? I always have and it's never been a problem, I want the cop to see immediately that I'm an old man not some young punk wink.gif, and I need to get those earplugs out so that I can hear what he's saying.
+1

 

Screaming at them to let them know I can't hear seems a bit awkward. I see no benefit in leaving the helmet on (it's not like I can tuck a threatening weapon in there). Besides, I'm ultimately going to have to take it off anyway (if they have any desire to prove I look like my mug shot).

 

 

Mike O

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Francois_Dumas

Ah, another one came to mind last night: in the US it is not allowed to drive/ride 'around' a school bus that is stopped, I think? (Nothing like that in Europe AFAIK).

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Ah, another one came to mind last night: in the US it is not allowed to drive/ride 'around' a school bus that is stopped, I think? (Nothing like that in Europe AFAIK).

Didn't know that one. I can understand that it makes it safer if a child should run out in front of the bus.

Steve

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In most (all?) jurisdcitions, you stop for a school bus when the red lights are flashing and the Stop sign is extended if;

you are on a 2 lane road, a 4 lane road that doesn't have a physical barrier between the different directions of travel, or if it is a turn lane.

If there's a large open median, such as US Interstate, or US highway with a big median (usually rural, but rare)between the highways, you're OK.

School zones in Florida are marked with a road paint sign to warn you, then there is a flashing light with posted speed limit that is to be followed until you pass a sign on the side of the road that states, School Zone Ends.

School buses stop at railroad crossings.

In constructions areas, fine are doubled, and these areas are marked with road construction signs. In some areas, they are strictly regulated and enforced.

In some areas, left turn on red, on to a one way street, from a one way street are permitted.

REst stop/Welcome areas when you cross state lines are often a place to pick up interesting destination info, and have the cleanest water closets.

When you stop for the day, walking into a bar and shouting, "Attention rebellious colonists, move aside for your superiors" will often get you a free drink. smirk.gif

wave.gif

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Francois_Dumas

Interesting.. I buy it all.... except I have some teeny weeny hesitations with following the advice from your last line. I'll let someone else SHOW this to me first......

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When you stop for the day, walking into a bar and shouting, "Attention rebellious colonists, move aside for your superiors" will often get you a free drink. smirk.gif

wave.gif

 

Depending on what town you are in it may even get you a free night stay with the locals . Dave smile.gif

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Why not take your helmet off? I always have and it's never been a problem, I want the cop to see immediately that I'm an old man not some young punk wink.gif, and I need to get those earplugs out so that I can hear what he's saying.
There are different opinions of course. I say don't based on the hands always visible from the rear thing. Fiddling with unhooking a helmet puts them out of sight of the LEO. YMMV.

 

Someone said getting off the bike is OK, but I also wouldn't. Facing the approaching officer would imply taking an adversarial stance, and facing any other way might be interpreted as posing to flee on foot. Staying on the bike, with it shut off and leaned on the side stand, with hands visible seems the most submissive stance in my mind.

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"how should I behave if I get pulled over by the Police?"

 

Show your passport and British drivers license. Explain you are a tourist and won't be able to make the court date. Ride off with a warning.

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When you stop for the day, walking into a bar and shouting, "Attention rebellious colonists, move aside for your superiors" will often get you a free drink.

 

I'll give it a try, but I might leave the bike running outside pointing out of town grin.gif

Steve

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Why not take your helmet off? I always have and it's never been a problem, I want the cop to see immediately that I'm an old man not some young punk wink.gif, and I need to get those earplugs out so that I can hear what he's saying.

Absolutely get the helmet off (especially if you are on the... err.. 'mature' side.) Anything that helps personalize you is a positive and there's nothing more impersonal than talking to someone in a full-face helmet. I think many LEOs (as would many individuals) consider leaving the helmet on as a minor form of disrespect.

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I have the answer, I will bring my schuberth flip lid, while the blue lights are flashing I will raise the lid and show them my grey beard grin.gif, but seriously though thanks for the advice, it could be very useful.

 

Steve

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Absolutely get the helmet off

 

First thing I do after stopping and shutting off the bike.

 

Bike off, on sidestand, helmet off (setting on tankbag), gloves off (covering radar detecter), and hands resting peacefully in full view. All done before LEO exits car and approaches the bike.

 

I want him/her to know I'm not going anywhere, and I'm not a threat (it doesn't hurt that I'm not some 19 year old punk).

 

Stan

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Cheers, being able to turn right on a red makes sense to me. We are not allowed to turn left here, unless your on a push bike wink.gif

 

Steve

 

In the US you can also turn left on a red after stopping, if both streets are one way, and you are in the left most lane and turn into the left most lane.

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Yes eek.gif.....In general, do NOT expect any decent standard of driving here!

Be extra careful of teenage girl and old lady drivers.......and do you have a good health insurance and roadside assistance in place??

 

Have a VERY safe trip BTW thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

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I work in D.C but commute to my house in West Virginia so I know the D.C area a bit. While you are in the area remember D.C drivers are horrible in general. Beware the Virginia State Police!! They (some of them, anyway) like to show you who is who. They also will write other policemen tickets, a couple of my Police friends will attest to that. But generally be respectful and follow what Stan Walker said above and they will respond in kind - they will leave feeling good about themselves and you could just leave with a stern warning. Have a great time on your trip and be safe!

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Yes eek.gif.....In general, do NOT expect any decent standard of driving here!
Actually that's a very good point to bring up. Outside of urban California there is a LOT less awareness and tolerance of motorcycles on the the road than in many European or Asian cities. Don't expect cage drivers to do anything you would expect them to do. There is not a single rule you won't see someone violating at one time or another. Defensive riding is the name of the game.
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Thanks Ken, I shall try be careful. Europe in general Love's two wheeled transport, but not to the same degree in the UK. Perhaps my experiences of riding in the USA from a different perspective will be of some interest? If though the members of this board are an indication of the standard of riders and drivers in the States I should be OK thumbsup.gif

 

Steve

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If though the members of this board are an indication of the standard of riders and drivers in the States I should be OK

 

I am sorry to say that I truly believe we are in the (extremely small) minority bncry.gif

To quote the sergeant in "Hill Street Blues"

 

Let's be careful out there.... thumbsup.gif

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I have never driven or been in England but if the driver's in the U.K. are more like the ones on the continent then not be prepared to see some pretty terrible driving here in the states.

 

In my experience while European driver's might seem to drive crazy to a North American they are actually in control of their vehicle. You can't assume that here.

 

Be careful, ride like you are invisible and don't forget that it is left turners coming at you that are gonna get you here as opposed to right turners coming at you back home.

 

Also, LOOK LEFT, THEN RIGHT, & THEN LEFT AGAIN when pulling out....That can save your ass.

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I have never driven or been in England but if the driver's in the U.K. are more like the ones on the continent then not be prepared to see some pretty terrible driving here in the states.

I noticed that drivers in England were much more disciplined about using the proper lanes on the freeway (motorway)... I just had to get used the the left lane being the slow lane! And they were very understanding when it came to my pathetic attempts to drive on the 'wrong' side of the road... which is a lot harder than it looks (throw in the roundabouts and you are looking at some serious fun crazy.gif). Be careful about that Steve, and unfortunately you can't expect the same graciousness if you get momentarily confused as people here are not as used to that kind of mistake as they probably are in your country.

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Be extra careful of teenage girl and old lady drivers

Am I to infer from this that you think teenage boys and old men are less of a risk? I disagree.

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Paul Mihalka

Just in case, return to the school bus subject: On a two-lane road when a school bus stops with it's red lights flashing, you not only stop behind the bus and not pass it, but also if the bus comes your opposite way you stop before before passing by it and wait for the red lights to go out.

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Francois_Dumas
Just in case, return to the school bus subject: On a two-lane road when a school bus stops with it's red lights flashing, you not only stop behind the bus and not pass it, but also if the bus comes your opposite way you stop before before passing by it and wait for the red lights to go out.

 

Thanks! I didn't know THAT bit of it... ! I had a kid under my wheels ONCE in my life (on my little motor as well).... wouldn't want to repeat it blush.gif I just hope the guy behinds me knows it too and won't run OVER ME ! dopeslap.gif

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Steve, Ditto on the school bus thing. Watch out for our kids while your here.

 

As far as Law enforcement goes I think you will find that our cops are pretty cool. I have seldom recieved a ticket in a lot of years of rideing. Treat them with respect, admit you were wrong, apoligise and have your paper work in order and you will be fine. You have an advantage being from GB. They will probably let you slide and chat with you for awhile just to hear you talk.

 

They only other thing I can think of. Try and stay off the road late at night. There's alot of folks on the road with drinking problems and we as riders are prime targets.

 

If you in a rural setting early PM and AM, lots of critters on the road with human encroachment problems.

 

You got your BMWMOA membership and Anonymous book? Good to have if you break down with no BMW shop near by, or your out of luck at the Hotel or campground. Lots of folks would love to put you up for the night. Or ride with you for awhile.

 

Don't forget your canteen, knife and flint!!

 

Are you coming to Florida? Let's ride!! thumbsup.gif

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Hey Steve,

 

One more point regarding police or any emergency vehicle. When the are passing you with lights blazing and sirens blaring (and not pulling you over), everyone is SUPPOSED to pull over and make way. Few really come to a complete stop though generally people do try to make a hole in traffic (habits which vary from state to state, city to city).

 

Very often you'll find some a--hole that gets in right behind the emergency vehicle so he can pass overyone that pulls over. So after you pull over for the emergency vehicle MAKE CERTAIN there is no one flying in behind them.

 

LEOs on the site can descibe these situations better ... However, I find these events VERY stressful on a bike because I am very aware of how many accidents occur around emergency vehicles due to people apparently not having enough gray matter to call upon.

 

Be safe, have fun, and see you at the UN, mate!

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Francois_Dumas

Are you coming to Florida? Let's ride!! thumbsup.gif

 

Dunno if Steve is, but I sure am ! grin.gif (See thread in Events).

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Also, in Florida, if an emergency vehicle or LEO is on the side of the road with lights on, you must move over a lane when passing (if possible).

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I'm only over for 5 days, so not enough time to travel too far, but next time thumbsup.gif thanks for the advice. Just a thought, are your kids back to school after the summer break?

We to also try to get out of the way of emergency vehicles, I will even pull forward slowly past a red light to let them go by, but if the lights have cameras installed I would get a ticket in the post. bncry.gif

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Steve,

Lots of information here but be aware of one thing. There are actually 50 different sets of regulations when it comes to driving over here. When someone tells you "In the US you can do this or that . . . ", be careful. Almost every traffic law in the US is a state law not a federal one. What one can do in Iowa is often not the same in Georgia. Have a safe trip and enjoy.

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