The Other Guy

Ever since I got into motorcycling 45+ years ago, one thing I’ve heard from other riders that has resonated with me is that you always have to watch out for “the other guy.” They’re the reason for most accidents. This was a factor for much of my riding awareness for decades. It wasn’t until I got into rider safety and education plus reviewing the statistics that I’ve noticed thigs to be different.

The numbers may have changed a bit over the years and the amount of crashes and/or fatalities may have risen or decreased at points over time, but there have been a couple of factors that haven’t change much over the years. Nearly half of all motorcycle crashes are single vehicle, which indicates the rider was at fault for various reasons. The remaining 50 percent of crashes typically involves one or more vehicles (that infamous other guy), but crash investigations reveal that close to have of those (in some cases/regions, higher) incidents put the motorcyclist at partial fault and sometime complete fault for the final outcome. Reasons include incorrect actions/reactions, inexperience, speed, impairment, and more. So now if we step back at look at these numbers, we’ll see that about 75 percent or higher of the motorcycle crashes are either partially or fully the fault of the motorcyclist. Those are alarming numbers – even just 50 percent of the crashes being single vehicle are way too high, tossing in the rest of the calculations really makes it worse. Perhaps we need to look at our actions or inactions more than those of the other guy. As scary as those numbers are, we’ll put them aside and concentrate on things we can do to prevent the mishaps that may caused by our road-sharing nemesis of lore because no matter what, we still must watch out for those other users of the road.

As many of you know, the number one location for a potential conflict with a car is intersections. Typically, this is where the oncoming vehicle makes a left turn into our path of travel. How can we prevent this? To start with, we already know this hazard and should always have our guard and readiness up and running prior to even getting to the intersection. Developing situational awareness is a major key to avoiding conflicts and one we promote to develop better and constantly enhance. We also need to remember that we are smaller in profile and hard for other drivers to not only recognize but identify our oncoming speed. A lot of times it doesn’t matter that we may have a bunch of lighting or even wearing hi viz gear, drivers aren’t adept or trained to recognize us and can easily see right past us as if we weren’t even there. Just about every collision between a motorcycle and car winds up with the driver saying, “I didn’t see him/her” and they most likely are stating the truth. Keep in mind that drivers are more than likely looking to where they want to go and if your small profile wasn’t capture in that vision there is a good chance they will turn in front of you.
A lot of us have heard that you should ride like we’re invisible; that’s a good thought process but we should never stop trying to be visible. Where I stated that wearing hi viz gear may not help, in certain situations it may be a major benefit. One key it to still consider is that there is no guarantee to what drivers may or may not see, but there is no loss in attempting to do whatever we can to be seen; whether it is wearing hi viz gear, lane positioning, movement in the lane to attract visual attention, etc. Along with these thoughts, covering your controls to reduce reaction time can make a difference between contact and no contact. Also, keeping with the invisible thinking; consider your surroundings and the possibility of being camouflaged by what’s around you. Being close to another vehicle, either to your side or behind or even in front can make it harder for drivers to see you instead of the larger object you are close to. There’s no simple answer for each circumstance, so we need to take into account any possibilities and be prepared with the skills to address whatever action is required for us to take.

Another dangerous setting would be turns, twisties and curves in general. We need to always think about our setup for cornering, especially when we make right handed turns. There have been past studies that show drivers have a tendency to cross over the dividing center portion of the road when they are making left turns. A lot of this has to do with the physical properties of being a left sided driving vehicle, vision, and any possible obstructions that may arise from the car.  If the turn you’re planning to sweep through has limited vision to see fully from beginning to end, you may want to consider your set up and approach in a manor that will reduce any risks and have a safer outcome. It’s always better to err on the slow side into a turn; you can always “speed” up out of it when you have a better field of vision, but if your line is too wide from set up or speed too fast, it could cause calamity – definitely not a good scenario.

There are plenty of other situations where the other guy can cause disastrous outcomes, but we need to start with the very basics of motorcycling that we are responsible for our own safety. As much as there are absolutely times that no matter how well prepared we are, whether through situational awareness, road adjustments, skill and so on; a crash with another vehicle may not be avoidable – yet we should always do whatever we can to avoid becoming a statistic.

This starts with continuing your rider education and constantly practicing your skills plus getting the information to increase your situational awareness for greater development to recognize impending situations – whether they become an issue or not. If you’re one to say
I know how to ride, I’ve been riding XXX years without having a crash, etc.; then you’re just adding risk to your ride that you really don’t want. Ignorance may be bliss, but it can certainly cause a lot of pain or worse when it comes to riding a motorcycle. Also, you need to support motorcycle rights organizations such as the AMA, MRF, NY ABATE and Long Island ABATE. They are doing everything they can to promote motorcycle awareness to the driving public. The bottom line to consider; get trained, stay sharp with skills and awareness and yes, watch out for the other guy – they’ll always be around, but we need to start looking at ourselves and how we ride to help start reducing those unwanted numbers we see year after year.

Stay Safe Out There!




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On Friday, December 7th, Triumph of Westchester will be hosting Triumph'sBonneville Icons Tour, debuting new Triumph motorcycles just for you. Enjoy food, music, and local vendors and services on-site at our new location in Elmsford, New York!

You don't want to miss this event as we also celebrate our Grand Opening of the new Triumph of Westchester with a ribbon cutting at 7 pm at our Elmsford location.

Local vendors will be in attendance for FREE SERVICES! More information to follow.


Registration for this event is required and space is limited. You must register to be included in this exclusive look at Triumph’s exciting, new-for-2019 lineup. 


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Long Island ABATE
is now having meetings in Nassau & Suffolk Counties. The Nassau meeting will be informational only and the Suffolk meeting will remain the primary meeting time.

NEXT MEETING IS Tuesday December 11th at the Lake Ronkonkoma Fire District Meeting Hall Corner of Hawkins Ave & Portion Road Ronkonkoma, NY
Meeting starts at 7:30pm

Nassau Meeting (informal) will be Tuesday December 18th at the Marine Corps League 99 New York Ave Massapequa NY @ 7:30pm

Empire State Motorcycle Safety Education Program, Inc(ESMSEP) is a not for profit, 501(c)3 outreach education organization group of like minded motorcycle safety enthusiasts working towards the goal of promoting motorcycle awareness and the benefits of rider education through FREE informational seminars at libraries, adult continuing ed programs, dealerships, club/group meetings, rallies, etc. Our primary goal is to present the information to licensed motorcycle operators as to the importance of continuing rider education, but our information can also be extremely useful for newer riders as well. To date, there is no one in NYS that presently addresses what we do..

ESMSEP has a Member Benefit Program that includes discounted offers from our Sponsoring Partners. ESMSEP currently has 80+ Sponsoring Partners listed on our website that have joined our team with many of them offering a benefit offer for our membership that have pledge to support this new exciting venture. All of them are extremely supportive of our task and recognize the value of it for the motorcycling community plus the potential for future customers that appreciate their support of motorcycle safety. We have more sponsors than any other not for profit motorcycle organization in the country.
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