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Motorcycle accidents caught on camera. What can we learn?
Accidents involving motorcycles remain a concern. The number of fatalities for motorcyclists and pillion riders are the highest amongst all road users each year. According to the Traffic Police, the top causes of fatal accidents involving motorcycles are the following:
- Motorcyclists and other motorists failing to keep a proper lookout for each other.
- Motorcyclists failing to have proper control of their bikes.
- Poor judgement
Accidents resulting in injuries involving motorcycles rose 2.1 per cent to 4,358 cases in 2018, from 4,270 the previous year.
Fatal accidents involving motorcyclists increased 44.44 per cent to 65 cases in 2018, from 45 the year before.
Death of bikers and pillion riders - accounting for almost half of all road traffic fatalities last year - also increased 38.6 per cent to 61 last year, from 44 in 2017.
For full details on road traffic accident statistics, please go to the Singapore Police force website.
To encourage good motoring habits, simulation training has recently been made compulsory for all learner motorists, including motorcyclists. It will enable motorists to experience real-life traffic situations and arm them with the knowledge and confidence to deal with potentially dangerous traffic situations.
Traffic Police will also explore introducing defensive riding practical lessons for the Class 2B (200cc and below) learner riding curriculum.
It will also continue to reach out to motorbikers through engagements like the Singapore Ride Safe campaign.
Motorcyclists caught dicing with death on dashcam. What can we learn?
Unfortunately, as a motorcyclist you’re vulnerable to other road users’ mistakes, as well as looking out for yourself.
Our motorcycling expert Tony Tan takes a look at some dashcam footage of motorbike mishaps, and analyses what the riders involved could have done to avoid crashing.
Anticipating what other motorists will do
Frankly, the rider here has done nothing wrong (though we can’t see where he was on the road before the silver Golf pulls out in front of him). The drivers pulling out of the side street appear not to be showing due care in doing so – and clearly aren’t using their rear-view mirrors, (if they were, they may have stopped to help the rider).
There are a couple of tactics that may help avoid this sort of situation though:
- Steer clear of riding in the left lane if possible, as this is where people are likely to pull over to stop (particularly taxis). It is also the usual lane drivers turning out of side streets aim for. Plus, far too many bus drivers tend to barge on out of bus stops.
- Leave an adequate gap in front. The “two second rule” – in which you should be able to count two seconds before you occupy the piece of road of the vehicle in front – applies even when someone pulls in front of you.
- Try to anticipate what drivers in front of you are likely to react to. Unfortunately, high-riding SUVs tend to block your line of sight, but as a rider you should be able to see over most sedans and hatchbacks. Anticipating the BMW blocking the Golf may have prevented this fall.
Road rage. What to do?
Road rage is not acceptable. Ever. We hope this driver has been caught and charged. Unfortunately there are too many just like him on our roads. It seems clear that something preceded this video too, causing the initial ‘discussion’ between the rider and the car driver.
What to do in this situation?
- Avoid conflict. Yes, it’s easy to say when the heat of the moment is not upon us, but aggravation tends to lead to more aggravation. If a driver treats you badly on the road, try to breathe – count to ten if necessary. A cool head knows that with the prevalence of dashcams, bad driving is likely to be punished. Eventually.
- Again, that two-second rule could have saved the day. Yes the driver appears to have tried to harass the rider by swerving and he purposefully ‘brake-tested’ the rider, so maintaining that two-second gap could be difficult. But even if the driver stopped the car, if you’re a couple of car lengths behind, what’s he going to do? Throw it into reverse? Keep calm, and stay safe.
Lane-splitting at speed? You're asking for trouble.
Here we have yet another car driver not showing due care on the roads. Their indicator comes on only after they’ve started to change lanes, and clearly their rear-view mirror use was cursory at best.
Unfortunately as a rider you need to be prepared for these sorts of situations. Who is at fault is academic if you’re lying on the road injured, or worse.
What to do here?
- Not to place the blame on the rider, but lane splitting at speed is asking for trouble. The black car on the left in the beginning of the video actually has its indicator flashing, and the rider ignores it, as does the driver of the camera car. Had the camera car given way and allowed the black car to merge this crash would have just happened sooner.
- Unfortunately as a rider you also have to try to anticipate what drivers are going to do, realizing that few of them have motorcycle riding experience. Yes, the driver changes lane suddenly, but from their point of view, there were slow moving vehicles in the right lane too – they wouldn’t have expected a car to be charging into what was effectively not enough space for a car, even though there was room for a lane-splitting motorcycle.
- Finally an observation: The motorcycle goes down very quickly when the brakes are applied. Between that and the (more obvious) windscreen wipers in operation on the camera car one could assume the road was damp. In these conditions motorcyclists need to be particularly careful, realizing their stopping distance increases greatly thanks to vastly lower grip levels.
This is what can happen to tailgaters
Sometimes a crash is not caused by inattentive car drivers.
Here we have a combination of damp road, lane-splitting at speed, and tailgating. You are pushing your luck to stay upright in these circumstances.
How to avoid this type of crash:
- Ride with great care on damp roads. If you watch closely, it looks as though the motorcyclist crashes on a painted lane mark, which tend to have less grip than bitumen.
- Also, he’s reacting to the motorcyclist in front touching his brakes – if you’re tailgating, as is the case here, you need to brake much harder in order to compensate for your lack of reaction time.
- Be aware that if you’re lane splitting, you’re riding on a slightly dirtier piece of road – one that doesn’t see as many tyres running across it. If the rain is only light, this piece of road is likely to have much less grip than following the tyre tracks of the car in front.
- In this circumstance we’d recommend riding slightly to the right of the lane in the tyre marks of the car in front, leaving a four second gap, and not lane-splitting.
Motorists just not keeping a proper lookout for one another
Honestly. You wonder whether some car drivers realise they have rear-view mirrors. And you can’t argue that they couldn’t have expected any motorcycles to be lane splitting, given that no less than 10 motorcyclists whizz right past their driver’s door in this clip before they pull in front of this one.
To be honest, the riders before this poor fellow were riding much more dangerously – right on each other’s tail, and way too much speed differential with the traffic.
How could this have been avoided?
- If the car driver was paying any attention at all, there would not have been a crash here. But, again, when you’re lying injured on the road that’s little compensation.
- In stop-start traffic like this, be aware that drivers are likely to get frustrated and switch lanes. If they’re inattentive, well that’s your bad luck.
- If you’re going to lane split, be prepared for drivers to change lanes suddenly. Had the rider been going only slightly faster than the traffic he would have had more reaction time.
We sincerely hope the riders shown in these dashcam clips have not sustained serious injury. Please, ride as though everyone on the road is trying to kill you – a shocking percentage are.
By motorcycling expert Tony Tan.