by Jerry Palladino
I was recently asked about how to avoid one of the most frequent types
of motorcycle accidents, (the vehicle that turns left in front of you,
violating your right of way, and what can you do about it).
This is a tough one, I am not trying to avoid the question, but the best
answer is, it depends on the situation. If for instance, you are driving
on a two land road, approaching an intersection where you spot a vehicle
that you believe may pull out in front of you. First, you should be
covering your brakes whenever there is a possibility that another
vehicle may violate your right of way. For instance, if you are north
bound and the vehicle is southbound and about to make a left hand turn,
the best thing may be to first, brake hard then release the brakes and
swerve to your left going around the back of the vehicle. Of course, if
you are going slow enough to stop, do so and avoid the swerving
A good idea is to practice the stop and swerve maneuver in a parking lot
so that when this situation arises, you will know what to do. In this
same situation, you are on a four or more lane road with a busy
intersection you may have only one choice. That would be to stop prior
to hitting the vehicle as swerving to the left could cause a head on
collision with oncoming traffic and swerving to the right could cause a
collision with a vehicle going the same direction with you.
In other words, if there is an escape path, make sure you turn your head
and eyes to that escape path. Never become target fixated on the left
turning vehicle or you will surely hit it. There is no hard and fast
rule on this situation. The best thing to do is practice your braking.
Concentrate on the front brake. Practice braking from 20mph to 60 or
70mph in a controlled environment, such as a deserted road or parking
lot. In a panic situation, you will always revert to your training. If
you never train, you will only have panic and dumb luck to rely on.
Practice, practice, practice. Practice is the key.
Back to Index
More articles by MOTORMAN:
Back to Basics Series:
A "Motorman" is the term used in police circles to identify a motorcycle
cop, or any law enforcement officer assigned to the motorcycle division.
becoming a Motor Officer, Jerry rode for enjoyment for about 25
years. Then one day, he saw a 5 minute segment on a television show
which depicted motorcycle officers training on their Harley police
bikes. The way these officers could maneuver these full size motorcycles
around like a child's toy, made it appear as if they were defying
gravity. At that moment, he knew that he had a lot to learn about riding
a motorcycle. Shortly afterwards, the agency he worked for started a
motorcycle unit. he was sent for training to Tallahassee with the
highway patrol. The training consisted of 120 hours of intensive
motorcycle training, focusing mainly on low speed handling. Jerry says,
"When I finished this training, for the first time I really knew how to
ride a motorcycle."