--Motorcycle Consumer News
by Ken Codon
Charley is riding home from work on a two lane secondary roadway. The road has many curves and only a few straight sections for cars to pass. Charley enjoys a series of curves before accelerating onto one of the straights. He often has someone ahead of him on his ride home and this straight is usually where he overtakes slower cars and trucks. But, today, the road ahead is clear.
Charley accelerates onto the straight, riding in the lefthand portion of the lane near the centerline. He sees in the distance a motor home in the oncoming lane at the other end of the straight with a line of cars following close behind. As the vehicles near, one car suddenly pulls out into Charley's lane to pass! Charley immediately flashes his high beam and honks his horn, but the driver doesn't seem to notice. Charley then decides to brake and move to the right toward the road shoulder, hoping that there is enough room for the car to pass without colliding with him. He reaches the soft shoulder just as the passing car zips by only inches away. Unfortunately, Charley is still going about 20 MPH when his front tire slides on the loose gravel that borders the road edge, causing him to slide and tumble into the ditch.
Riding in the lefthand portion of his lane made Charley less visible to the drivers lined up behind the motor home. The angle of view would have been to his advantage had he ridden in the righthand portion of the lane. In this position, Charley would have also created more space between himself and the oncoming cars.
When the car did pull out to pass, Charley spent valuable time trying to get the driver's attention with ineffective methods. Even if the driver did notice that a motorcycle was in the way, there is no guarantee that he would act appropriately. Instead, Charley should have immediately changed his lane position to the far right and then begun braking hard to reduce speed so that he could negotiate the soft shoulder more successfully. This would have put Charley in better control of his safety instead of hoping that the driver would see him and do the right thing.