Identification of risks Identification of risks What is a risk for motorcyclists? It is just anything that has an element of real or possible danger for motorcyclists. The terminology of danger is simple, the difficulty is to be able to recognise the danger, to realise its extend and of course to deal with the danger when it appears. If somebody is not properly trained to: Sufficiently observe Assess the environment while he/she is driving Act preventatively Use a method in order to schedule his route Is pulled together and acts accordingly; then it is very possible that he is not dealing with the dangers involved and is increasing the chances of an involvement in a traffic accident. A very good start in order to enhance our knowledge is to study the new Traffic Regulations where there are sufficient information for the motorcyclists as well as for the maintenance of his motorcycle. It is also proper to develop a “system” which will allow us to stay away from various dangers and to deal with them in good time and effectively. A simple system is the M.S.M, Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre. By learning how to use some moves, we are allowed to drive more safely. Another system is the O, S, M, P, S, G, Observation, Signal, Manoeuvre, Position, Speed, Glance. The drivers of motorcycles of emergency units use the IPSGA, Information, Position, Speed, Gear, Acceleration. The use of a system, once we get used to it, comes naturally, without efforts. This evolves every time we ride a motorcycle and by reaching a satisfactory level of use, we are undoubtedly allowed to drive in maximum safety in the road. Experience has unfortunately proved that most drivers do not use a specific system, even the most capable drivers, with the result of putting their self in very dangerous situations. The knowledge of dangers that threaten a motorcyclists is very important if somebody does not know its contents. Then naturally he/she will not be able to deal with the threat. We all know that motorcycles are the best vehicles when it covers to overtaking. They have great power, in relation to their weight. For most the position of the driver allows them to have good visibility, they require less space in order to move and can easily manoeuvre. In short, motorcycles are: Fast High Small in size With great acceleration Why are most accidents caused during the overtaking? There are certainly many reasons but the most important is the lack of plan. Even few seconds of lack of observation or neglect in evaluating the importance of an element or misinterpretation of another element, may often be disastrous. Many motorcyclists overtake before completing checking what must be checked. There are many overtakes but not a lot of observation or thought, in time. Motorcyclists do not take into consideration the cross roads, the junctions or the traffic signs and generally all available information. This may be happening because of (a) lack of observation, (b) lack of concentration and (c) effort for fast driving or even recommendation by friends. These should not be happening but unfortunately they are regular mistakes made by motorcyclists. So, which are the “problems”? There are some basic things that affect motorcyclists when it comes to overtaking that we must know, as you can see below: What can we see, in front of us? To the side, behind us and which is the speed of the vehicle which is approaching? If we cannot sufficiently see and we are not completely positive that it is safe, we must simply not overtake. What can we not see? For example, a vehicle is approaching with great speed coming from a road turn with no visibility. The available distance that is required to complete an overtake and to return to our lane with safety. During a good overtake we do not affect the other drivers, by forcing them to change their speed or their route. We must always have an emergency plan in case of a worse scenario possibility. The power of the motorcycle in relation to the power of the vehicles that we are intending to overtake. Do you feel that the driver you are about to overtake has realised your presence? Especially when you are close to junctions. We must always have a safety limit. People make mistakes, especially when somebody is careless, untrained or the distances are large. Our safety limit must take into consideration human errors. The capability to prepare a plan of safe overtaking and the instant evaluation of the plan, before the starting to overtake. Good manners and co-operation with the other drivers. Good judgment Behaviour and motives. A proper plan is essential and this means more than the acceleration used in order to overcome a difficult position. What does plan means? The members of the Police are more safe when driving, because they drive with a method, using a system, a series of actions. IPSGA Information Position Speed Gear Acceleration This is a system in order to check our motorcycle. The continued used of the system for every danger, soon becomes our second nature. The system requires training and practice in order to become familiar but as soon as it does the benefits are great. In order to overtake, Police officers use the system with a particular technique for maximum benefits. They always make sure that the following are being complied with: Systematic approach Emergency safety plan The ability to re-evaluate the overtaking plan and return to their lane in case of emergency. They show their intend to overtake only when they are sure that this will take place with safety. There is sufficient hold and stability with the motorcycle. The motorcycle must be in a horizontal position when passing over the separation lines or during acceleration. There must be sufficient distance from us and the vehicle that we are overtaking. Overtaking is exciting but also requires great consideration, observation, programming, judgment, capability and often self-preservation in order to be safe. By studying this document we do not become better drivers. Comprehension, application and practice are essential. The danger can be reduced with proper and continuous training. A large number of road traffic accidents involving motorcycles occur at junctions. The following are some issues that must be kept in mind when approaching a junction: Physical issues – proper check of the motorcycle, plan of the route, lines and traffic signs, condition of the road, visibility, blind spots, weather conditions. Circulation of vehicles and public. Other road users – Have they seen the motorcyclist, have they considered him as a possible danger? Driving plan – Based on our observation, proper speed, proper gear and having personal safety as a primary concern. The list with issues is ongoing. The physical issues can easily be dealt with. Motorcyclists must be alert at all times, check their environment, check for possible dangerous elements in front of them, to the side and behind the motorcycle, creating a global image of the dangers surrounding them. As soon as the dangerous elements are identified, we need to consider our own presence and if we are in fact visibility to other drivers. We often hear that a driver was exiting a junction and blocking the way of a motorcyclist and there was an accident. «He was looking towards me and he continued entering the road, blocking my way ». This is the answer of motorcyclists when they are asked what the driver of the vehicle was doing at the time he was exiting the junction. Motorcyclists usually ask for the other drivers to be informed on how to deal with motorcyclists but without taking themselves specific measures. Are simply vehicle drivers so offensive towards motorcyclists or is the problem more complicated. The issue may be very complicated, but anyhow one thing is certain. During an accident with a motorcycle, the person who has the most serious injuries is the motorcyclists. Therefore, can we leave the responsibility of safety to the hands of other drivers? Unfortunately, most of the times the vehicles are used for any other reason other than the reason that they were build for. Most of the vehicles are used as communication centres, canteens, hair dressers, officers, coffee shops and whatever we can think of. Every reason is a harassment to the driver that prevents him from driving with safety. The best advice is, for your own safety not to believe that you are excellent drivers, and learn to driver defensively. It is certain that vehicle drivers do not enter the road and start chasing motorcyclists, but there are other factors that affect drivers and force them to act in the way they do. Indeed, some drivers do not pay enough attention and some take unacceptable risks. But most of them just want to go from location A to location B. What else can it be happening? Some drivers may not have good eye sight, some may be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. There are also things that may be obstructing the visibility of drivers, such as vehicles, pedestrians, barriers, signs or other large objects which may attract the attention of the drivers and naturally ignore smaller vehicles. But, most concerning is the fact that is also proved by scientific studies, that as it appears, the eyes see other things and the brain “sees” other. If we consider that a sober driver, without any visibility obstacles and a motorcyclists wearing light coloured clothes can be easily spotted, we therefore fall to the trap and do not driver defensively, increasing the risks. We must never take out of our plan the scenario of “What can occur?”. Some of the most important findings from the search are the following: On whether a driver can see a motorcycle is based on a lot of factors. Many of these are the position, the experience, the practice, the knowledge and the surrounding vision. Increased speeding might be a factor since the greater the speed the smaller the time there is for somebody to observe what things are at a junction. Lets assume that a driver is looking regularly towards us. Whether he spots a motorcycle or not is another issue. Does he really want to see the motorcycle? Research findings show that this depends on the ambitions and the empathy of the driver – whether the driver is searching/wants to see a motorcycle, the driver is a motorcyclist or has had other experience with motorcycles. Therefore a driver may be looking straight towards a motorcycle and might actually see you but “on purpose” you are removed from his/her visual sight. It is possible that you have heard that it is better when approaching a junction to look the driver who is trying to exit, straight in the eye, in order to ensure that he/she has see you. What do you have to say now? You must always act as if they have not seen you, place a safety barrier, ensure that you know how to use the brakes if required, something which reduces your reaction time, and check the wheels of the vehicle which is trying to exit the junction, whether they are moving. Additionally, we need to keep the following in mind: The drivers who are waiting at a junction to enter the main road cannot always estimate correctly the speed of a motorcycle which is approaching the junction and as a result they enter earlier and block the way of the motorcycle. The small volume of the motorcycle is not threatening for the drivers and therefore there is always that possibility that they will ignore the motorcycle. When a driver is waiting at the junction and they see the light of the motorcycle approaching, this can be see for a long period up to a point and the size does not change and as a result the estimation of speed is again difficult. From what you can realize it does not matter whether we are wearing light colour clothes or illuminating equipment as there are drivers that as stated above, they may not “see” us. In conjunction with a mistake by us or reckless act it is easy to be exposed to deadly dangers. Of course our effort is not to create fears. As you very well know, driving a motorcycle is one of the most enjoyable experiences and junctions are also a part of the road. But, unfortunately cause serious problems to motorcyclists and you must know the complexity of this issue. What you need to do is to take the necessary precautions in order to remove the danger. How can this be achieved? Police motorcyclists are rarely involved in traffic accidents at cross roads and the reason is that they have a good position against dangers, they have been properly trained, and they put their knowledge in action. It is up to you to avoid dangers when approaching to the junction, by putting in practice the above principles.