--Motorcycle Consumer News
by Ken Codon
You're on your way home from work riding on a two-lane road lined with stores and restaurants. Commuting traffic is moving along at a decent speed, but you are slowed by vehicles ahead turning into side streets and store driveways. You keep a generous following distance between you and the surrounding traffic, positioning yourself so you can see other vehicles and they can see you.
You are a few miles from home when a Jeep you've been following begins to slow. It's unclear why he's slowing, because he gives no signal. You keep an eye on him as he suddenly hits the brakes to turn left into a gas station parking lot. You are far enough behind to not require any sudden evasive maneuvering. The Jeep driver must stop before turning because others drivers are approaching in the oncoming lane, so you simply steer to the right to go around him in the breakdown lane.
You are along side the Jeep when you see movement ahead. It's a silver Pontiac who was waiting to enter the roadway into your lane. He is proceeding at a rate that suggests that he is unaware of your presence. You have to get on the brakes hard to avoid a collision, but your front tire slides sideways in the dirt that has accumulated in the breakdown lane. You instinctively release the brakes but this makes it clear that you will not be able to stop in time to prevent a collision. Just then, the driver of the Pontiac sees you coming and has the presence of mind to accelerate hard. You must miss his rear bumper and manage to stay upright.
You were smart to practice good lane positioning for visibility, but you fixated too much attention on the Jeep directly in front of you. You hadn't paid close enough attention to the Pontiac because you were distracted by what the Jeep driver was doing. Had you been scanning ahead, you would have seen that the Pontiac driver's line of sight was blocked by a telephone pole. If you can't see the driver's face, he can't see you. Slowing more would have allowed you to manage the space available and prevent a collision with the Pontiac. And remember, breakdown lanes often offer little traction for evasive maneuvers.