Section 6: Roadway Management
6.1 – Crash Avoidance
No matter how careful you are, there will be times when you find yourself in a difficult spot. Your chances of avoiding a crash and possible injury will depend on your ability to react quickly and properly. Two critical crash avoidance skills you will need to learn and practice are stopping quickly and swerving.
Stopping a motorcycle quickly and safely is a skill that requires a lot of practice.
This is accomplished by applying controlled pressure to both the front and rear brakes at the same time without locking either wheel.
To do this:
- Squeeze the front brake lever and apply pressure to the rear brake pedal at the same time. Do not apply maximum pressure to the front brake lever and rear brake pedal all at once. Gradually increase pressure to the front brake lever as weight is transferred forward to the front tire.
- Keep your knees against the tank and your eyes up, looking well ahead. Good riding posture will help you stop the motorcycle in a straight line.
- If the front wheel locks up, release pressure on the front brake lever to get the tire rolling, then immediately reapply with controlled gradual pressure.
- If the rear wheel locks up, keep it locked until you have come to a complete stop. Maintain pressure on the rear brake pedal and keep your knees against the tank and your eyes up. You can still bring the motorcycle to a controlled stop in a straight line if the rear wheel locks up.
Stopping Quickly in a Curve
If you must stop quickly while turning or riding in a curve, the best technique is to straighten the motorcycle, square the handlebars and then stop. There may be conditions that do not allow straightening first, such as running off the road in a left-hand curve or dealing with oncoming traffic in a right-hand curve. In such situations, apply the brakes smoothly and gradually. As you slow, reduce your lean angle and apply more brake pressure until the motorcycle is straight and maximum brake pressure is possible. You should “straighten” the handlebars in the last few feet of stopping; the motorcycle should then be straight up.
Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS)
Some motorcycles use this technology to prevent wheel lock-up. If your motorcycle is equipped with anti-lock brakes apply maximum pressure on both the front and rear brakes as quickly and firmly as you can. You may feel a pulsation in the brakes; continue to hold brake pressure until you have completely stopped. Most ABS systems are designed to reduce or prevent wheel lock-up only while riding in a straight line; ABS may not prevent wheel lock-up while leaned over in a curve or turn.
Sometimes a skid cannot be avoided. Here’s what to do:
- Front-Wheel Skids – If the front wheel locks, release the front brake immediately and completely. Reapply the brake smoothly. Front-wheel skids result in immediate loss of steering control and balance. Failure to fully release the brake lever immediately will result in a crash.
- Rear-Wheel Skids – A skidding rear wheel is a dangerous condition, caused by too much rear brake pressure, which can result in a violent crash and serious injury or death. If the rear wheel is skidding, keep the rear brakes applied and the front tire pointed straight ahead, until you have come to a complete stop. Do not release the rear brake.
Swerving to avoid a crash may be appropriate if stopping is not an option. A swerve is any sudden change in direction. Be sure you have enough time and space to swerve. It can be two quick turns or a rapid shift to the side. To swerve:
- Apply firm forward pressure to the handgrip located on the side you want to turn. This will cause the motorcycle to lean quickly. The sharper the turn, the more the motorcycle must lean.
- Press forward on the opposite handgrip once you clear the obstacle to return to your original direction of travel.
- Keep your body upright and allow the motorcycle to lean in the direction of the turn while keeping your knees against the tank and your feet solidly on the footrests.
If braking is required, separate it from swerving. Brake before or after – never while swerving.
Many crash-involved riders enter turns too fast and are unable to complete the curve. The basic turning procedure – slow, look, press, roll – applies to all curves. Every curve is different. Be alert to whether a curve remains constant, gradually widens, gets tighter or involves multiple turns. Ride within your skill level and posted speed limits.
You should move to a position based on road condition and traffic before entering a curve and adjust as necessary. This permits you to spot approaching traffic as soon as possible. You can also adjust for traffic “crowding” the center line or debris blocking part of your lane.
Your best path may not always follow the curve of the road. Change lane position depending on traffic, road conditions and curve of the road.
- If no traffic is present, start at the outside of a curve to increase your line of sight.
- As you turn, move toward the inside of the curve, and as you pass the center, move to the outside to exit.
6.3 – Sharing the Road
Commercial motor vehicles are vital to the economy of Georgia and the United States. Most of the products used in everyday life were delivered to stores by commercial motor vehicles. Drivers of commercial motor vehicles are trained, specially licensed driving professionals. Sharing the road with commercial motor vehicles is a necessary part of travel. Heavy trucks typically weigh 80,000 pounds or more, and riders should use caution when near them.
- A fully loaded tractor-trailer, traveling 55 mph, needs 3 times the distance a car needs to stop.
- Large trucks are more difficult to maneuver, are longer and heavier, and require more room to turn.
- Large trucks have larger blind spots, called “No-Zones.”
- Sharing the road safely includes not remaining in the blind spot of vehicles while passing them.
Typically, the larger the vehicle, the larger the blind spots. A commercial motor vehicle’s blind spots are dangerous because truck drivers can’t see vehicles in these areas.
It is impossible to completely avoid a truck’s blind spots. However, car drivers and motorcyclists should not remain in the “No Zone” any longer than needed to safely pass a heavy truck.
The easiest way to avoid lingering in the “No Zone” is to look for the truck driver’s reflection in the side mirror. If you cannot see the driver’s reflection, you are in the truck driver’s blind spot.
As depicted in the illustration below, these areas around the truck include: directly in front, directly behind, and along each side of the vehicle – especially on the right side.
In the illustration below, the commercial motor vehicle’s blind spots, or “No Zones”, are highlighted in blue. These are areas to avoid whenever possible.
High OccupanCY Vehicle (HOV) and High occupancy Toll (Hot) Lanes
Motorcycles are permitted to use HOV lanes regardless of the number of persons riding on the motorcycle. Motorcycles may also use the HOT lanes at no cost by obtaining a toll-exempt PeachPass account. Contact the State Road and Tollway Authority at 1-855-PCH-PASS (724-7277). However, motorcycles must pay regular tolls on designated toll roads.
A PeachPass electronic toll transponder may be obtained to more easily pay for transit on designated toll roads; a PeachPass is required when using HOT lanes. To obtain more information about a Georgia PeachPass for all types of vehicles including motorcycles, go to: http://www.peachpass.com.
The Georgia TACT Project
Targeting Aggressive Cars & Trucks (And Motorcycles!)
Law Enforcement will stop people who drive unsafely around commercial motor vehicles, whether the person is driving a car, motorcycle or commercial motor vehicle.
What to do to avoid getting a citation:
- Don’t cut off commercial motor vehicles. For safety, one car length for every 10 miles per hour of speed is recommended.
- Don’t tailgate. Unlike cars, commercial motor vehicles have big blind spots behind them. Also, car drivers and motorcyclists who tailgate commercial motor vehicles can’t see traffic ahead. If the commercial vehicle brakes suddenly, you have no time to react and no place to go.
- Don’t speed. Speed is a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes.
- Give all commercial motor vehicles plenty of room. Be careful when you or the commercial motor vehicle are entering a highway or merging with traffic.