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Commuting and complacency


Boffin

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This morning riding to work I was saved by my RT's ABS from my own complacency.

I was travelling downhill on a rural road, approaching a staggered cross road, with the exit of a small industrial unit on the left, followed by a road junction on the right. Imediately after this is a humped bridge over a railway line. (remember this is driving on the left, so reverse positions for the same layout for RH driving)

 

There were two cars in front of me and as I drew near, a van started to appear over the bridge.

Then I saw the car in front had stopped. Then it signaled to turn. Then I braked, then I noticed the polished, damp road surface.

I had been in a comfort zone - I was now HARD on the brakes on an unsuitable surface. The ABS started to do its stuff and I stopped 3 inches from the back of the car.

 

I should have been aware of the surface - I know that round here it is common for drivers to make a turn then signal half-way through so I should have been allowing for the car to make a turn across oncoming traffic, forcing it to stop. I should have slowed earlier, left more room and been more controlled on the brakes.

 

In short, I should have been paying attention, not thinking about this morning's assignments.

 

It is too easy when travilling routes you ride every day to drop into auto-mode, instead of being a proactive rider.

 

Andy

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Calvin  (no socks)

Andy, glad you managed to snap to attention and avoid a mishap... As far as the commute... I sometimes zone out and snap back to the situation at hand... Survival.

 

I regularly travel thru large cities, and must be in top form to anticipate others actions... It is a Zen type of awareness.......eg." I knew that car was going to cross 3 lanes while talking on the phone." :eek:

 

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Andy, glad you managed to snap to attention and avoid a mishap... As far as the commute... I sometimes zone out and snap back to the situation at hand... Survival.

 

I regularly travel thru large cities, and must be in top form to anticipate others actions... It is a Zen type of awareness.......eg." I knew that car was going to cross 3 lanes while talking on the phone." :eek:

 

Having ridden with Andy many times , I'd have to say this was an isolated incident .......the fact that he had enough room to stop goes to show that he wasn't completely out of the zone ........now if that had been me , there would have been pheasants involved and a different outcome !!

 

Steve

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I have been a victim of day dreaming too. Familiarity breeds complacency. I compare the thought process as being on "auto pilot". You are awake and looking but you are not processing the observation. Cage drivers are especially vulnerable. Coddled as they are in their mobile living room with all modern conveniences, phone, grooming, reading, GPS, audio and other distractions. You wonder what they were thinking when they plow into stopped traffic ahead. I've stopped drivers like this. It's as if I awoke them from a sub-conscious slumber.

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Nice n Easy Rider
I have been a victim of day dreaming too. Familiarity breeds complacency. I compare the thought process as being on "auto pilot". You are awake and looking but you are not processing the observation. Cage drivers are especially vulnerable. Coddled as they are in their mobile living room with all modern conveniences, phone, grooming, reading, GPS, audio and other distractions. You wonder what they were thinking when they plow into stopped traffic ahead. I've stopped drivers like this. It's as if I awoke them from a sub-conscious slumber.

 

One of the reasons I began riding again after a 15-yr hiatus. I felt I was becoming more and more complacent as a cage driver. I always felt that my instinct for self-preservation dictated that I maintain my motorcycle skills even more than what was required of cage driving. In reality, those skills are required for both but as Bob pointed out it seems like it's easier to let them slide when in the cage.

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I once came back from a very tiring camping vacation in Utah. North of Salt Lake City on I-15 the Highway Patrol got me. I had seen the patrol man behind me so I checked my speed --- no problem. Another 10 miles down the road he stopped me and asked if I knew how fast I had been going. I said I have been keeping it under 70. He said you are in a work zone and have passed about 5 signs saying 45 mph! I said really? He then pointed just ahead. About 15 feet in front of me was a 45 mph sign. What a dope! Lucky he saw that I was a safe? driver while following me so he told me to pull off up ahead and sleep for awhile. I did so. Sure felt stupid though.

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I am glad this was brought up. When I started back riding, about 7 years now, I know I was really alert, almost uptight on the bike. Then I got more comfortable after awhile but still aware. I commute on my bike every day now ..... so when does "comfort" move into "complacency" ? I have often wondered about whether I am too comfortable on the bike to the point of not being aware enough of my surroundings. Just wondering if others who ride their bikes every day have run into this issue.

 

 

DB

 

 

 

DB

 

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Yes! All to easy to become complacent. I try to combat it with a very brief, 5 second "motorcycle ceremony" before each ride. Usually as I'm pulling on my gloves. The ceremony is to very briefly center my the focus of my being on the fact that I'm getting on the bike to ride, and to bring my attention and skills, such as they are, fully to the task. Just a fleeting moment to recognize and respect and remind myself to manage the risks successfully from starting out, along the way, all the way to the destination. Oh...and to enjoy the journey, too!

 

:wave:

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Yes! All to easy to become complacent. I try to combat it with a very brief, 5 second "motorcycle ceremony" before each ride. Usually as I'm pulling on my gloves. The ceremony is to very briefly center my the focus of my being on the fact that I'm getting on the bike to ride, and to bring my attention and skills, such as they are, fully to the task. Just a fleeting moment to recognize and respect and remind myself to manage the risks successfully from starting out, along the way, all the way to the destination. Oh...and to enjoy the journey, too!

 

:wave:

 

I like the sound of this - after all Rossi goes through a series of set-moves before each ride.

Thinking about my non-commuting rides, I run through the planned route in my head, which roads/towns/villages I will be using. For my ride to work, I just get on and go. I think I will try and find a focus routine to use.

 

Andy

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I'm a year round daily commuter with an hour+ ride each way and I have got myself into the routine habit of doing this......as corny as it sounds. I get all my gear on, open the garage door, back down the driveway, flip on the fast idle and kill switch, turn on the key.......then I take a big breath and say to myself "Do I really want to do this today?"

 

Twice I've pulled back into the garage and taken the cage. If your mind isn't there, its just not worth it. I've zoned out a few times over the years......its easy to do, especially with the weather being colder like it is now. When it happens, I will do things like change radio stations on my Sat radio or get off the highway and stick to the back roads. My main priority of the work day is to make it home in one piece :thumbsup:.

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And I was the opposite of that today, sort of.

Wanted to ride, was late, said "take car" then immediately said "what's 10 minutes?"

Geared up and headed out.

After about 30 miles or so, it becomes very rural and wooded (on this version of my commute) and I had no cars, good Sat radio, and was warm & toasty in my Gerbings.

Let my guard down and of course, right then, a very large black bear comes blasting out of the woods on the port side.

It was beautiful to watch him gallop across the road.

But, 1.68 seconds different, and we'd have had a close encounter of the ursa kind.

Around here when you hit a bear, the bear sometimes becomes angry. :eek:

I don't run very fast no mo neither... :dopeslap:

I chastised myself for letting my guard down jsut because there was no vehicular traffic, I know better. :lurk:

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I stopped riding 20 plus years ago because I was commuting and I just didn't think it was worth it any more. And the fun of riding had gone. Now that I got back into riding all of it is for fun and it is a lot easier to stay vigilant at all time. I find my eyes scanning around in the distance and at every corner. Each car I see I contemplate their every (stupid) move.

 

I think if I was less vigilant the odds of an incident goes up and I am not willing to run those odds. If I can't spend 100% of my attention on riding I just don't go. I don't ride in the rain, or the dark or during times of heavy traffic.

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10-4

 

One was hit last week and ended up in the front yard of the Fish & Game wardeh whose job it is to trap and weigh/track them.

Not the kind of work you want to bring home. :grin:

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Dave in Doodah

I used to commute on the Bee-line (Highway 528) from Cocoa to Orlando everyday and never got to see a bear. Beautiful, I bet. I was always worried about hitting a boar, though, after I saw the aftermath of a boar/car confrontation....

 

I will also agree with some earlier comments - riding a bike does heighten one's sense of paying attention on the road. I am convinced it has made me a better car driver, too.

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Daily commuter myself, I have spots that I will pull over and stop at if my concentration starts to drift. I have drifted off twice on the 2nd time I vowed never to allow it to happen again as long as I can help it. So i pay attention to the time of day and the traffic condition, weather, how i feel at the moment, am i thirsty nd any other vairable that i am aware of. If its hot i ride with a camelbak, if its cold i dress warm. there is no room for complacency, obviously.

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Francois_Dumas

Happened to me when driving the car once or twice.... my 'commute' these days is the 14 hour drive to France.. but same thing basically... familiar roads, car will find its way home all by itself, thinking of other things.

 

I never had the ABS kick in, don't even know if it is there, actually. I am glad I have nowhere to commute on the bike :/

 

Glad you could stop in time Andy :thumbsup:

 

What did Steve say? He was going to involve peasants ???

 

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Francois,

I believe so.

Something about being 'appy to 'ave 'is 'appy 'our at the pub and 'oping 'is next ride didn't 'ave peasants crossing the road... :wave:

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Survived-til-now

Andy

 

Glad to hear you stopped in time; of course we have all done it and to try and salvage something out of it we tell ourselves that it was a useful wake-up call and we'll be more careful in future etc etc...... and that lasts about a week!

 

I have a routine that every time I gear up for the commute I try to "brief - up" on the journey ahead and think what is unusual today (ice, wet, leaves, mud, Monday am is always bad, Friday pm is particularly so...). Its just a trick to try and break the mind away from where I am (at home or at work)to where I am going to be - on the bike. Heaven help anyone who breaks that process - people at work know how seriously I take that routine and let me get on without the usual banter (although if our MD sees me he always wishes me "Safe ride home"). I too question "do I want to do this?" and if I am not 100% i go on the train.

 

But your story has another element, you obviously were looking but are you looking with too much focus on one area.... just a thought.

 

My IAM magazine dropped on the mat last week - Under "safety in numbers" heading is has one statistic that caught my eye (for obvious reasons) "x13"- The increased liklihood of a motorcycle rather than a car being in a fatal accident for every kilometre travelled".

 

Safe riding

 

Andy

 

Might just pin that up next to my gear as another trick to snap the mind off daily life and onto the job in hand.

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I have been revisiting the event in my mind and on the ground and I have developed a theory as to where I went wrong.

 

First off the scene:

 

Google Map

 

 

What is not clear is that the terrain slopes left-to-right down to the railway and that the bridge is of the old 'Humpback' type (the railway is the second oldest in England, being laid out by George Stephenson).

 

I was travelling east (left-to-right) on Merrylees road and crucially, I was expecting the traffic to brake, slowing for the blind bridge that has a junction just after it.

 

I think it was this expectation that lulled me into a false sense of security, I was expecting the car to brake to slow, so the brake-lights did not change my state of awareness. The car should have indicated their intention to turn right into Lindridge Lane some time before the junction which would have alerted me - but it is down to me to allow for the fact that drivers often do not indicate.

 

In short, I expected the commonplace and failed to think through all of the possibilities, an unforgivable error.

 

Andy

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Yesterday I was out for a drive in my 68 restored Camaro. We were all in the fast lane doing the speed limit and I had plenty of room in front of me. Suddenly everyone got off the gas and I assumed they had come upon a slowpoke stuck in the fast lane. I looked in my right rear view mirror to see if I could change lanes and it looked like I could barely see a car in my blind spot. So, I glanced over my shoulder to make sure before making the move. Yup, there was a car right there. So, I looked back in front and everyone was sliding all over the freeway and the car in front of we was only 4 feet away and had all 4 tires smoking...

 

I stood on the brakes but nope, I bumped the car in front of me. 2007 anti lock brakes versus 40 year old brakes.

 

I totally screwed up the front end of my pride and joy. And the accident will be considered my fault. I was happy I wasn't on the bike, but sad I wasn't in the Prius. It might have even stopped in time.

 

The cause of the crash? Someone in the opposite direction had crashed into the center divider and was rolling on top of the guard rail. People in front of me saw him coming and all slammed on their brakes right when I had my head over my right shoulder. Had I been looking straight ahead I would have been fine.

 

The whole thing took .5 seconds and I am just not a very happy camper with myself. I have called myself every name in the book sounding like a drunken sailor...

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