Kevin Carpenter, ASM instructor and Lifetime Road Guardians member.
It’s that time of year that ½ of the USA is puling their bikes out of storage. A few months ago, when the time came for us to put our rides into winter hibernation, we started using our cages for transportation. Instead of throwing our legs over our bikes, we now open the door, sit down and turn the key. Not as much fun is it? I can’t help but wonder when we drive instead of ride, do you keep your situational awareness all year long? When we ride our bikes we are taught to be acutely aware of our surroundings. Our heads are on a swivel as we watch, looking forward and use our peripheral vision to see all around us. As we watch traffic we look for and plan escape routes in case we need to get out of the way of danger. When you drive other vehicles do you still have that same situational awareness going or you get lulled into a less safe form of defensive driving? Now being surrounded by steel and 4 tires. As you pull your bike out of storage do you have to relearn those safe riding habits? Roadway dangers are pretty much the same all year round aren’t they? We still have other drivers to watch out for. You know, the ones that drive to fast for conditions or drive to slow causing people to apply their brakes unnecessarily. Then you have those who think they are road racers darting in and out of lanes trying to get to their destination as fast as possible. Of course inattentive drivers have been ever increasing and you can see them swerving as much as any impaired driver as their attention seems to be on everything but driving. Weather factors in as rain, snow, ice, fog & more can cause slippery roads. The vehicle maintenance and driving skills of others on the road are unknown factors.
The same rules apply whether you are on 2,4 or 18 wheels. The way you enter a curve or exit. Too fast a speed in slippery conditions and you may lose traction and therefore control of your vehicle. Winter, spring, summer or fall all of the same rules apply. We all drive/ ride on that small space of the tire where the rubber meets the road.. That tire surface on the road is what gives us either traction or loss of traction in all weather conditions. For those who live I the northern states is seems that we are dealing with road conditions like snow, ice, out of control motorists, snowplows, and potholes ½ of the year and the other half of the year you are watching for for dirt, sand, leaves, pedestrians, orange barrels and again potholes.
I know as a youth I spent a lot of time doing donuts in the snow, which taught how to handle a loss of traction. I suspect many of you have done this as well. As a professional driver I was sent to an advanced driving school. On my own I took an advanced riding course on my own bike. So my question to you is: “Do you do anything to improve or keep your driving skills sharp? When was the last time you practiced any kind of emergency driving/riding skills? It’s never a bad time to find a class to learn and correct any bad habits you may have developed. For me it’s been almost 10 years since my last driving class. I think it’s time to take another class to keep my skill levels sharp. Do you have any input or suggestions regarding classes a person could take or how training has helped you?
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