So often is the case, we lie in wait until a solution to a problem is discovered or more so until the solution is implemented and is working.
If we look at motorcycle safety as an overarching concern, then it is with merit to identify certain issues that do or may cause motorcycle accidents…in fact we could extend this further into general road safety or any other area of concern and apply the same principles.
There are of course certain triggers that we may perceive as being the main causes and we may even campaign to effect changes to improve our position.
We can call for other road users; drivers, cyclists or pedestrians to become more aware of motorcyclists, more aware of the fragility of accident victims, more aware of other road user’s induced accidents. We can campaign to address their bad habits and distracting tendencies and we can seek more consistent and severe action against any road user that causes a collision, injury or fatality…especially to us as motorcyclists.
We can lobby local & national governments to improve road infrastructure, improve road maintenance & design and to effect substantial & pragmatic changes to training and testing of other road users so that motorcyclists are afforded greater protection and equality on our roads.
Whilst these are of course noble endeavours, they are not the total solution and indeed are not the linking factor that causes motorcyclists to be involved in motorcycle accidents.
Whilst we lie in wait for these changes to come into effect, whilst we wait for the authorities to change their thinking and address motorcycle safety concerns and not simply impose more unnecessary restrictions on road riders and whilst we wait for all other road users to reach the higher awareness levels that we would wish for, then it is incumbent for all motorcyclists to find our own solutions, our own strategies to ensure our own riding safety, standards and stability. We need to lead by example not only in our own standards & campaigns, but also to find solutions and improvements from within that can demonstrate to others how relatively simple actions can create great strides forward.
When we look at motorcycle accidents, not necessarily in particular but more as a core study group, then we find commonality within them. The riders could not have foreseen that they were going to have an accident, be that a collision or loss of control, could not have foreseen a rider induced hazard or external hazard…either environmental or induced by other road users and could not have foreseen that their controls inputs…either under or over control would lead to a chain of events unfolding that ultimately led to the accident and in turn may lead to injury or fatality.
The acceptance & implementation of the No Surprise – No Accident theory by each and every rider, allows each to have a more ‘professional approach’ that not only ensures improved informed decision making but also improves the predictive performance and that which compensates for the ‘inadequacies’ of the current road using systems.
I use the term ‘Professional Approach’ meaning that we as general riders take an involved and active interest in the riding activity. Although mostly not paid for riding and not part of riding organisations, that does not mean that we cannot act as if we were, and a common theme running through ‘professionalism’ regardless of industry type, is that basic practices are reinforced and performed to a high standard and these basic skills are never underestimated as complacency is the enemy of safety.
When we can focus on better application of basic skills, improved decision making and predictive performance, then we are prepared to deal with virtually all situations as there is rarely a situation that cannot be anticipated on a daily riding basis.
If we look to other industries for inspiration, we can learn a great deal not only in terms of training and testing but also in systems that maintain quality & performance…and usually these lessons are rather simple solutions…lessons that we as riders can take onboard and apply immediately.
What many other industries & practices acknowledge is how key human performance is. How we gather & process information…and how we retain it also. How we make decisions and critically how we make everyday & unusual errors. How our bodies work and how they are affected…and ultimately how that affects our physical performance.
So what can we do in the meantime, whilst we campaign for everything else to improve? Well, we start to focus on doing the basic things very well…be that riding skills, riding decisions or reading and preparing for the environment which we’ll be riding in. We can incorporate this theory, either officially or unofficially (in the meantime) when we train the next riding generation or supplement the existing riders knowledge.
We can approach and promote riding as a skill that needs attention that avoids complacency, requires focus & prediction that improves our basic skills performances and emphasis & drills of ‘failure consequence’ contingencies. We need to be better basic riders, we need to be better at avoiding hazards that lead to accidents and probably (especially) near misses and we need to prepare better for an emergency situation that we need to adequately deal with.
When we become better at the basic stuff…then we are better prepared to cope and our performances improve and we are much more able to counteract any external hazard that presents itself that will endanger our riding stability.
The solution to motorcycle & rider safety is… ‘What we do in the meantime!’ and not what we hope will change in the future. Our actions today and our preparedness for the future riding environment also means that whatever we are doing now should also be an evolving process. We should never be satisfied and never complacent in what we’ve achieved and how we perceive the issues to be.