A good reason not to follow to closely

dduelin

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My habit when following traffic ahead is to ride behind a rear corner of the car ahead so I can see around that car and get a view of the road ahead plus drivers will usually move in their lane to straddle or avoid road debris so I'll shift lane position from one side to the other as conditions require and as cars ahead telegraph what may lie unseen in the roadway ahead. I try to always leave 2 seconds or more following distance both for stopping distances and to keep adequate sight lines open.

So last Sunday morning I was [not following the above] following too closely a string of 3 or 4 cars ahead and was in the act of changing from the left side of the lane to the right side so I could see around the car and into the right hand bend we were starting into. We were doing about 50 mph. About when I was directly behind the car ahead and only a second or so behind it an animal carcass appeared out from the bumper of the car directly in my path. It was a large fox or a medium size dog and sliding on the pavement about 50 mph. I don't know if it fell out from under the car or was just struck but it was sliding on it's side just barely slower than we were going. The animal began to slow down and as it rotated a turn or two I moved quicker to the right to avoid it sliding straight into my front tire. I wasn't sure if it would take me down because it was still sliding about as fast as I was going but I didn't want to find out. The road was banked a little to the right due to the right hand bend and the animal started sliding off to the right and closed up on me. I kept moving to the right but ran out of pavement and there was a drop off I didn't want to fall off of. Up to then I had not let off the throttle and maintained 50 mph but I had to roll on and speed up as I judged the carcass would cross in front of me as it slid off the roadway and I would be trying to maintain control right on the edge of the pavement. By speeding up I barely made it past the animal with the front tire and part of the carcass was run over by my rear wheel as it slid under me. It gave me a bit of a fright as I replayed it in my mind.

I post this as a cautionary tale. The animal carcass could have been a car battery or rusty muffler I surely would have hit in the center of the road because I did not have time and room to avoid it. As it was I very nearly ran off the pavement and still ran over part of the animal. If I had been maintaining 2 or more seconds following distance it would not have been a near miss.
 

ziggie

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Some fast thinking.good job
Glad u came out on top side.i like to stay in the middle of the lane,it gives me room on both sides for stuff like that.
sent from a keyboard in the frunk
 

Mike Cash

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In truck driving school they taught us three seconds for light/empty and four for loaded. I like to keep four to five seconds behind, whether I'm on eighteen wheels or just two wheels. Overly cautious? Perhaps. Given the choice between getting somewhere three seconds later or maybe not getting there at all.....it ain't a real hard choice to make.
 

SergeantChuck

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I'm glad you maneuvered through that situation safely. I position myself in the lane exactly as you do. I try to keep a good distance but more often than not a car will squeeze its way in the gap. So damned if you do and damned if you don't. I had a similar situation not to long ago where a semi ran over a rather large box and I was a bit to close to the rear of his trailer. I always find myself trying to find the sweet spot where a car won't fill the void and keeping enough distance to safely maneuver around something if needed. I agree with Mike though. Getting there in one piece is better than not at all.
 

MO Cycle

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Like Mike, I try to leave plenty of distance between myself and any vehicle in front of me, but what drives me crazy is the point SergeantChuck just made. The space you leave open for ample following distance is like an invitation for others to cut in front of you.

A perfect example of this turning into a close call just happened last weekend in town, on a 4 lane thoroughfare. Because traffic was tight, some jack wad decided his best shot to move into the right lane in time to make his turn off would be to tromp on the gas and catch up to the open space in front of me, cut me off, and immediately hit the brakes and throw on his turn signal so he can make his right turn into a parking lot. I braked hard before swerving to the left to make it around him. End of story? I wish! Within the instant I was ready to have my sigh of relief, idiot #2 picked up where idiot #1 left off. Idiot #2 sees a simultaneous opportunity to pull out of the parking lot idiot #1 is pulling into since the lane would be blocked by idiot #1 slowing traffic to turn in. Since idiot #2 decides he needs to hurry up, he guns it and swings wide just off my rear wheel just as I've missed hitting idiot #1, so I have to momentarily share the edge of the next lane with a car and nearly swap paint until I can throttle out of this cluster puck. And by throttle out I mean... lug it as I see a truck grill closing in on my periphery, then downshift before blasting away. Later, I couldn't help but think if ever there was a time ABS and DCT would have come in handy, that might have been it. On the other hand, I've speculated that committing to a superb straight-line ABS panic stop might have prevented the need for the swerve that got me clear, and might have caused me to be rear ended by whoever was slamming on their brakes behind me.

As wise as it is to give yourself plenty of separation from traffic ahead, there's too often some imbecile ready and willing to defeat that wisdom and fill up the space you've left open so they can pull in front of you and do something erratic. I like to give myself plenty of stopping distance, but there's something to be said for owning that space just a couple of seconds behind the next vehicle if it will prevent someone from cutting you off.

After decades of lay-off, I haven't been back on a bike for very long but it's all come back to me. We're invisible to some drivers, and too small to worry about for others. I've already had a couple of moments where I thought I'd like to turn around and go talk to some idiot about their depraved indifference and self entitlement on the roads we share. The only reason I don't bother is because experience has taught me there is no educating an idiot, and you'd waste your day because they're everywhere. Still, I can't help but wish my farkle included red lights, a siren, and a ticket book ;)
 
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dduelin

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For these reasons above it is difficult to impossible to maintain 2 second distances in heavy urban traffic. That is why I shadow the rear corners of the car ahead. You can see past them to what traffic is doing further ahead and open your sight lines to 10 seconds or more.
 

MO Cycle

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For these reasons above it is difficult to impossible to maintain 2 second distances in heavy urban traffic. That is why I shadow the rear corners of the car ahead. You can see past them to what traffic is doing further ahead and open your sight lines to 10 seconds or more.
I haven't been back into traffic since last weekend, but since thinking about my experience, I like the sound of this strategy. It will take some getting used to and it makes me miss my days on an engine or rescue rig... Turn the siren to wail, run up the growler and blast the crap out of 'em with the air horn. Nevermind the traffic, you could part the Red Sea :p
 

dduelin

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Not only that but when some texting dorkwad rear ends someone 1/4 mile up the road and the 16 cars behind him lock 'em up you just juke a little and have 5 or 6 feet clearance between cars to stop in your own little lane between cars.
 

Old Can Ride

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Over the years of touring I have found that the same folks drive different on different types of roadways and depending on the time of day also.

Toll Interstate- 2 or more lanes, no red lights, with only enter or exit the roadway. Always fast and faster than furious. These folks are mad in the first place because they had to pay to drive to or from a job they don't like going to in the first place, at a bumper to bumper speeds. Very few 18 wheelers because of the cost to drive on factor. These places should be classified as combat zones with no friendlies. A motorcycle must avoid zone any time of day and in any place in this county. Destination oriented.

Free Interstate- 2 or more lanes, no red lights, with only enter or exit the roadway. Always fast and furious. For folks and 18 wheelers who just want to get there the quickest way possible. Move over because here I come attitude. Not a friendly place for driving anything. A motorcycle should avoid if possible zone, especially in the rain with 18 wheeler water flying. Destination oriented.

U.S. Highways- 2 lanes or more lanes, with red lights and stop signs. Folks will run the red lights and stop signs, just because. Always fast, but not so furious. For folks who live in the suburbs and in the medium to small cities. Still some 18 wheelers, but they stay mostly in the right hand lane. A medium friendly place to drive. Good for motorcycles in a hurry to get some destination.

State Highways- 1 or 2 lanes, with red lights, and stop signs. Folks still run the red lights and stop signs but not quit as often. Most folks drive the speed limit here, so not very furious. For folks who live in the suburbs and in the medium to small cities. Fewer 18 wheelers, and a lot friendlier drivers. Good for motorcycles riding cross county, but still have a destination to reach.

Farm to market roads- 1 lane with red light, and stop signs. Folks are not in much a hurry here, and seldom disobey traffic signals. Almost no 18 wheelers here. Most folks drive the speed limit and they wave at folks on motorcycles. Good for motorcycles riding cross county at a slower pace, having fun but still have a destination.

Back roads- 1 lane with red lights, and stop signs. Go very slow threw very small cities. No one seems to be in a hurry. No 18 wheelers. Most folks drive the speed limit, they wave, and they are motorcycle friendly. Great for motorcycles riding cross county at a slow pace with no destination. For those of us who just love seeing the scenery, not in a hurry with no destination, and a love for the real destination - THE Ride.
 
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anglachel

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I had an experience not to long ago where I was 2 seconds back in the far left lane, 18 wheelers made up the bulk of the right two lanes... car cut me off, I was now following much to close, and then all the brake lights in front of me lite up...

Voice in my head: Aw Shit.

I cut to the far left to have some place to go if I can't brake hard enough (either to the left, or down and to the left... better on the shoulder then under the cars behind me, right?) I brake hard.
At this point I look in my mirrors (always try to cast a glance that way before a hard brake.) car behind me shows no signs of stopping...

Voice in my head: Double Aw Shit.

I lighten up on brakes to try to give him a little more time to stop before taking me out... car infront of me at least has cut to the right so I'll have space to go forward in the event I need it. Obvious to me that we are going to be coming to a complete stop, accident or construction or something causing a backup on the highway and I can see it from my perch atop the motorcycle I don't think the cars around me can... the 18 wheelers to my right know it's coming too... I let off the brakes before pulling hard again and flashing my brake light furiously for the idiot behind me...

I end up coming to a near stop (with my hand on the throttle ready to bolt onto the shoulder for the idiot behind me who has been a few feet off my rear tire for the last 20 ft of the stop) a few feet back from the car in front of me, though he is to the right, and I'm to the left so I have space if I need it... idiot behind me still doesn't stop... he does go to the right, and creeps to the point where his front bumper is next to my foot.

Voice in my head: Holy Shit dude... I'm kinda right here... and even if I weren't... you are seriously way too close to the car in front of me!

Traffic in front of me starts to pull away, I follow suit, and move to the right, doing a steady 8mph and keeping the car behind me stuck behind me... traffic in front of me clears out, once I've got a 1/4 mile of straight road in front of me (18 wheeler back on to my right helping to box in the idiot behind me) I open the throttle, roar off, move over a lane and then slow back down to match the speed of traffic (maybe 20 - 30 mph) He roars off, blows past me, and then slams on his brakes, ending up even closer to the car in front of him than before... Guess he was in a super hurry to get to the car right infront of him (and his ultimate destination was the hospital?)
 

Big Thump

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It's situations like this where experience is a big factor. Glad your ok and your post helps remind everyone to back off that vehicle in front a little.
 

OldJeff

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I try and pass whatever I can't see around, esp. when I hug the edge of a lane on either side and still can't see 4 or 5 cages ahead of what's in front of me.

I think the best thing I've come up with is what I call "Riding the Gaps" Cars seem to like to group up and there are gaps in between groups of cars, I'll speed up or slow down to stay in those gaps as is practical. That really seems to increase the distance I can see ahead or behind me.
 

Hollow Road Rider

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All good advice in these posts.

I'll add my two cents: I avoid riding behind, or keeping a bigger distance behind, open truck beds. A few years back I was on the interstate and everybody was going 10 - 20 over the posted limit. There was a pickup truck with a load of household stuff about 5 seconds ahead of me. All of a sudden the apparently unsecured refrigerator fell over, knocked open the tailgate, and slid right out at 65 mph. The big white box was coming at me as I shifted lanes and it somehow managed to glide into the right shoulder just as I passed it.

That's the kind of thing you don't forget.
 

mdouglas71

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I've actually seen this happen all too many times on the freeway. Actualy got cockblocked last time in my car because I hit a wood brick... gay.
 

SergeantChuck

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All good advice in these posts.

I'll add my two cents: I avoid riding behind, or keeping a bigger distance behind, open truck beds. A few years back I was on the interstate and everybody was going 10 - 20 over the posted limit. There was a pickup truck with a load of household stuff about 5 seconds ahead of me. All of a sudden the apparently unsecured refrigerator fell over, knocked open the tailgate, and slid right out at 65 mph. The big white box was coming at me as I shifted lanes and it somehow managed to glide into the right shoulder just as I passed it.

That's the kind of thing you don't forget.
That is crazy. A refrigerator? I've never seen that period. Whether on a bike or not. That had to be a little scary. I hit a large cardboard box a couple months back but it was full of foam worms. A refrigerator? Jeez
 

Old Can Ride

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The good thing about riding a motorcycle is you use all you senses. You smell the roses, you hear the sound of the asphalt, and what a wonderful field of vision. But it does not take but a second of not using all 3 senses and you have become a stat. Over the years of policing, insuring, fixing, rebuilding, and totaling motorcycles, the number one accident type for motorcycles that I was involved with was "the motorcycle running into the rear of an auto". For some reason, and I don't know why, we seem to do that a lot.
 

mpgandfun

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Last summer I was following an empty logging truck. Smoke was coming from the rear of his trailer. I came out of a curve and considered passing him to avoid any trouble. Before I could get close enough to pass, one of his tires along with about 3' of axle, came off of his rig and rolled down the road. After it came to a stop in a field, I could see that it was on fire. Stuff happens!
 

Fuzzy

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Last summer I was following an empty logging truck. Smoke was coming from the rear of his trailer. I came out of a curve and considered passing him to avoid any trouble. Before I could get close enough to pass, one of his tires along with about 3' of axle, came off of his rig and rolled down the road. After it came to a stop in a field, I could see that it was on fire. Stuff happens!
Working in the forest products industry for over 30 years I can tell a lot of stories about the quality of logging trailers that come into the mills I have worked in. The trailers lead a rough life loaded to at least the maximum allowed by law with much of their trip on rough terrain in the woods and loaded a few logs at a time by a knuckle boom holding 50' trees swung by the butt. Many mills do not have the ability to unload a full load at a time so a front end loader pushes forks into the middle of the load to lift a portion off in the process putting tremendous side forces into the trailer. Or a crane unloads and occasionally drops a log back onto the trailer from height. Luckily the old bobtail pulp wood trucks are pretty much gone. They used to be considered in good shape if they had one working brake. The heck with seat belts they often didn't even have doors still attached.

Standards are much higher than they used to be with major companies not allowing substandard equipment in the mills and refuses loads that are overloaded, but working in the industry I try to give them extra room. Empty logging trailers can be especially dangerous as often the driver doesn't notice a broken piece of log left on the trailer to bounce off when he heads back on the highway.


BTW How do you make a small fortune in the logging business? You start with a large fortune.
 

Hank

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Had a lit cigarette hit me the other day on my drz 400 (no screen.). That will test your concentration.
 

bvogel7475

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MDouglas 71, Cockblocked? Had to comment on this old thread. Were you getting a blowjob and someone flew off when you hit the brick. Cockblocked usually equals someone interfering with your intended sex object here in CA. I guess it means something altogether different in Arkansas, which is Bill Clinton country...:)
 
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