The Basic Left-Turn
Ride Safe Ride Smart
Approaching a busy four-way intersection there are a lot of elements to monitor: cross traffic may or may not stop for the light; pedestrians could step out at any time; an oncoming car waiting to turn left could fail to detect your presence and turn left in front of you. Sure enough, just as you approach the intersection, the car in the opposing left-turn lane swings into your path. You brake hard and swerve at the last second, barely avoiding a broadside collision.
Strategy: Without a doubt, this scenario is a frequent hazard for motorcyclists riding in urban areas. A common type of motorcycle crash (for sober riders) occurs during daylight hours, at low speeds (around 30 mph), when an oncoming vehicle turns left into your path. Again, when approaching an intersection with a vehicle waiting in the left-turn lane, your best bet is to assume the worst: that a car will pull out in front of you. Reduce your speed as you approach the intersection, either downshifting or lightly applying the front brake. Adjust your position in the lane to be seen better. Slowing will increase your safety cushion: slowing just 10 mph reduces your stopping distance significantly, and covering your brake greatly reduces reaction time. After you’ve slowed, continue to visually monitor the car in case it moves and forces you to change position or stop quickly.
For more information go to www.msf-usa.org
MSF – Motorcycle Safety Foundation