Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Art of Safe Riding - Blind Spot

Ever seen a blind spot? It's about 10 feet long and can be found on either side of any car, truck or bus in the world. This invisible, deadly area kills or injures hundreds of motorcycle riders a year. When you master the blind spot, you take an enormous step towards staying out of the hospital and becoming a veteran motorcyclist. The blind spot exists because most automotive mirrors don't give the driver more than a few degrees of vision in the rearward direction. If you ride ignorant of other car's blind spots, you won't be riding for long.

Given that the car in your lane, on your right, left or ahead of you, has an inside mirror and a right side mirror, you are visible to the car driver any time you can see his head in the car's mirrors. Let's say that straight ahead of the car driver is 12 o'clock; following at a distance of three car lengths, a motorcyclist is usually visible anywhere from 5 o'clock to 8 o'clock. As the bike pulls closer, the blind spot increases since the mirrors don't project a wide enough image to the driver; when you can no longer see the driver's head in the mirrors, you are invisible to him. Watch out.

As you approach the vehicle, monitor the driver's head in the mirror, looking for the tell-tale twitch of an impending lane change. Pay attention to what is happening ahead of the car also, and look for any reason why it would want to move into your lane, such as slowed traffic or a stopped bus. As you ride into the heart of the blind spot, use your peripheral vision to alert you if the car begins to move towards you and cover the horn button with your thumb. To maximize your time in the car's mirrors and minimize it in the blind spot, you need to approach the car from behind and to its right and stay in its lane till about two car lengths away (you remain in his mirrors longer this way). Then make a swift lane change to the right, being visible in his door mirror, pass him by as quickly as possible and regain your lane in front of him. This smooth 'S' motion becomes second nature as you become more aware of blind spots. With enough miles, you develop a blind spot warning buzzer, a mental clanging that sounds whenever you are in a hazardous position. Getting caught between a car and an exit as the driver ahead makes a violent last moment swerve to the right usually sends the unsuspecting rider flying over the bonnet of that car. Alertness is the name of the game all the time. As your awareness develops, you will feel uncomfortable every time you find yourself at the rear quarter of the cars, buses or trucks near you. Auto rickshaws, tempos, buses and trucks have huge blind spots.

Check in the rear view mirror for objects, before moving off from standstill.

Tackling the blind spot of a car by staying behind it in the correct position and line so that the driver can spot you in his rear view mirror before making sudden turns.

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