Oregon is a spectacular state to enjoy motorcycling, but danger awaits those who are unprepared. Riders in the Pacific Northwest face hazards similar to other regions – wild animals, slippery surfaces, changing weather – but also hazards that are more unique to the area. Unfortunately, a few fatal crash scenarios repeat themselves year after year:
- Running wide in a corner
- Rear-ending stopped traffic
- Group riding
While each of these situations are very different, they all involve one or more of the same basic rider errors: Not looking far enough ahead (both literally and figuratively), failing to recognize clues to developing situations and failing to maintain an escape route.
It doesn’t matter if you are a beginner, experienced rider or expert, Oregon resident or out-of-state visitor – if you are going to be involved in a fatal crash in Oregon, it is likely to be a scenario similar to one of these. Read up on the most common fatal crash factors and ask yourself: "What would you do?"
You are riding on a curving, two-lane road. You are traveling just below the speed limit. You round a right-hand curve and feel your bike begin to drift outward, with your wheels almost touching the centerline.
Suddenly, an oncoming car appears, straddling the centerline. You feel like a deer caught in the headlights. What would you do?
You are riding in a rural area on a two-lane road. You have been traveling at 55 mph all day but are now stuck behind three cars moving at 35. You are not in a big hurry, but you are annoyed and getting impatient. Finally: a passing zone! There is no oncoming traffic so you signal, check your mirror and blind spot, pull out to pass and accelerate.
As you come alongside the row of cars, your eye catches a turn signal flashing and you suddenly realize there’s a driveway coming up on the left. Your heart drops into your stomach, and you watch in slow motion as the lead car turns left in front of you. What would you do?
You are riding on an Interstate freeway at 65 mph in traffic. You are positioning yourself to maintain a good space cushion, but are distracted. Drivers keep creeping up too closely before they pass you. Others simply sit in your blind spot and talk on the phone.
Distracted by what’s going on behind you, you glance up and suddenly, traffic is completely stopped in all three lanes in front of you – a barricade of red brake lights and bumpers. And you’re about to plow into them at 65 mph. What would you do?
You are riding in a group of friends. The morning was fun, but a little stressful – the group rides too fast and too close together for your liking, and you don’t know the route you’re following. At lunch, you notice a couple of your friends having beers with their food. These are the same riders who organized the ride and the ones setting the pace. They suddenly don’t seem like such experts anymore.
You overhear that the afternoon will have even more challenging roads and you’re feeling a little tired after a big lunch. What would you do?