Monday, June 16, 2008

Interesting article about crashing

I came across this article about why Patriot-News writer Jerry Dubbs no longer rides a scooter. He had a crash that put him off of riding for good.

When reading the headline, "Ex-scooter rider remembers thrill" I immediately thought that it was going to be a story about an inexperienced rider who got gun-shy after a spill, which, I guess it kind of is. Although after reading it, I felt bad for being so judgmental before I had a chance to read it. I gotta stop doing that...

I hear stories about people who ride and then have an accident and can't get past it. When I had my accident, I wondered if I would be one of those people. Would I be too scared to get back on? Would I be too paranoid to enjoy the ride?

Luckily, I wasn't. It helped that the circumstances of my accident were so odd that it was unlikely to be duplicated. But I also think that I had a few things going for me:

1) I was young, so I was able to bounce back relatively quickly
2) My injuries weren't serious. Painful as heck and I could barely drive, climb stairs, or raise my right arm up for more than 2 seconds, but they didn't require hospitalization or anything other than gauze, ibuprofen and time to heal.

3) I was surrounded by folks who had it a lot worse in the past. My boyfriend had broken his pelvis and had to re-learn to walk when he had his accident. Tony V had been in a coma from his accident. If they could ride again, it gave me inspiration to get back on.

3) I realized my mistakes. The accident wasn't my fault, but there were things that I could have done to mitigate the damage. Wearing better gear, remembering to put my gloves back on after a stop to the ATM. My injuries would have been much less had I prepared appropriately.

4) Knowing what I did right. I was glad that I wore a full-face helmet. I was pleased that I didn't put my hands out in front of me as I fell. I was calm enough during the accident to know that I should just ride it out and not panic.

So, I can see why I was able to bounce back. Jerry Dubbs mentions growing up in the late 50s & early 60s, which puts him more in my mom's demographic than in mine. I wonder if he rode with others who encouraged him to get back on a scooter? Ultimately, it boils down to this: it's a personal choice. Some people choose to get back on the scooter, others don't. Riding a scooter, motorcycle, horse, bicycle can be dangerous. How we deal with accidents is personal. At least Jerry didn't forget the good parts of his time as a scooterist.


Anonymous said...

I'm a new Scooterist and I've been catching up on your blog. This article surprised me - why were there no comments? Why?

It's obvious that this rider blames the driver of the Plymouth for not seeing him. But after reading the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's information about accidents - which are really "crashes", riders also have a responsibility to ensure that driver's of automobiles see us.

As the MSF guides say - use the SEE Method:

Search, Evaluate and Execute.

Search around you - all around you - follow the 12 second rule, especially in situations that this Rider was in. Should he have seen that the Plymouth was ready to leave that Gas Station? Perhaps.

And if he did see him, the rider should have Evaluated what could happen - like the Plymouth pulling out in front of him, not seeing him, etc.

The Rider should then have made a plan, and Executed it - MSF says to beep his horn so the driver knows he's there. Or be aware that the driver may pull out in front of him - so the rider should slow down and give the driver room.

All this information is in the basic MSF manual and classes - especially the SEE - Search, Evaluate and Execute.

As Riders we are also responsible that cars see us - don't ride in blind spots, ride where drivers can see us. Flash our brake lights before braking. There are lots of ways we can get the attention of drivers.

I like the new headlight modulators, the one's that cause your headlights to continuously flash from low beam to high beam. This is a great way to force drivers to notice us riders.

Today it's more important than ever that Riders catch the attention of drivers. Too often Drivers will be chatting on Cell phones, Texting on Cell phones, Listening to their I-pods and (the same as ever) inexperienced drivers chatting with their young girlfriends or friends in car, and not paying attention to the road.

And if we can't get their attention, it's important that we Riders know what evasive action we can take not it, but when these driver's do something stupid, like pulling out in front of us, enter our lane directly in front of us or swing open that car door as we go by.

Korian, proud owner of a new Buddy St. Tropez

-april said...

Thanks for the comment. Glad to know that some new scooterists are taking the MSF course. :)

The SEE concept is an important one. I jokingly call it using my "psychic" abilities: knowing ahead of time how oblivious drivers are going to "try" to kill me, as I also have been known to say.

There are lots of ways that you can anticipate a driver's next move. For example, when a car is ahead of me in the next lane and I see the driver looking over his shoulder, I assume that he is looking to change lanes and give him more room or get ready to honk my horn.

When I am riding through an intersection and there is someone waiting to turn left from the opposing lane, if I think they might not see me, I will turn on my brights, or briefly honk my horn.

It may not be "fair" that we have to take extra responsibility for those who don't do it themselves, but it's better to be safe and ride another day