Shaken Up and Stirred

BY MU3 (SW) DANIEL WEBER

I earned my motorcycle license in June of 2010, shortly after completing the Basic Rider Course in Virginia Beach, Virginia. I completed the Advanced Rider Course in late 2011 and again in 2014. Regardless of how many hours we accumulate in the seat, we should never let our guards down.

On a particular day in 2015, I encountered a situation that was easily avoidable if I had been more patient and attentive. It was a cold and rainy afternoon and I was only riding about 5 miles from my a friend’s house back to my house. I was wearing my helmet, jacket, jeans, boots but no gloves because when I left home, it was sunny and beautiful. On my ride back home, the nice weather turned to cold and rain. Cold and rain are magnified when on a motorcycle, even when driving on city streets.

The SUV in front of me was driving 25mph across a long stretch of road that is 35mph with no passing lane. I was following about one car-length behind, which inhibited my ability to see the truck and trailer that was stopped at the T-intersection ahead on my right. The slow driver in front of me signaled to turn right onto that T-intersection, but was taking its dear time making the turn.

When there was enough room within the lane to pass, I overtook it, not realizing that the truck at the stop sign was also pulling into the intersection and was looking to his right, advancing until he completely blocked my lane before finally seeing me.

Unable to swerve to the right (due to the trailer), I swerved left and was lucky enough to not be hit by oncoming traffic as I laid my bike down and slid about 30 feet while maintaining my position in my seat. As I laid with my bike on the double-yellow line, my first concern was getting myself and my bike to the curb.

The road had torn a hole in my engine which ceased and all of the oil leaked out. The driver of the truck ran to me and helped me push my bike to the curb. My nerves were shot, and I was shaken up.

I didn’t know if I was hurt or how badly. My hand was bleeding, my left hip really hurt, and there was a huge hole worn into the hip of my jeans from where I slid. When the police showed up, I explained what happened, and the truck driver was cited for failure to yield, even when we both made it clear that I was partially at fault for following too closely.

Still, the truck entered the intersection before the SUV finished the turn, thus justifying the citation. Luckily, I walked away with only a bruise on my hip, a cut on my hand, and minor damage to my helmet and jacket.

There are a few lessons to take away from this incident. 1) Even if the weather was nice, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the weather to change. 2) Don’t get impatient! 3) At every T-intersection, assume there’s a car that will run the stop sign, or assume the car won’t see you and it’s up to you to be prepared to defer right-of-way and to stop. 4) Always wear a helmet and protective equipment. 5) Do not have sharp or solid objects in your pants’ pockets.

This includes keys, coins, and your cell phone, because the keys and coins can easily puncture your clothes and skin if you fall on them, and your phone will shatter if it’s in your jeans’ pocket. Instead, keep these items in your jacket pockets.

6)If you are stopped at a T-intersection and a car is coming from the left to make a turn on your street, instead of assuming they’ll complete the turn, assume there’s a motorcycle behind the car. This is especially true if there are two lanes in each direction.

MU3(SW) Daniel Weber is a guitar instrumentalist and a public affairs petty officer. He officially began riding motorcycles in 2010.