MOTORCYCLE SAFETY - 'What if' technique

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The "What IF" technique is a very good habit to use when riding defensively. I use it all the time and with practice, you really don't notice it much riding in traffic. But as you ride, check your surroundings and ask: "What if that car turns? Will that car turn right or left? What if that car won't stop?" Then think what you would do - check your escape routes. This preemptive thought process can quicken your reaction time, and in many situations seconds count. But you can also use this technique to think out your actions before a situation arises. Therefore, you can react faster.

Here's a situation we can think about, that can happen, but hopefully not. You are riding with a group and moving out of the parking lot the biker in front of you catches gravel and the rear wheel spins out and he goes down. The riders behind need to react quickly. More than likely, the riders in front of the downed rider won't immediately notice the situation.

First things first - shut your motor off (the kill switch is the fastest) then put your kickstand down and secure your bike. Then move to the downed rider. You may want to attend to the rider first, but you need to secure the site first. If the downed bike is still running, hit the kill switch and shut it down. Then get the downed bike up on its kickstand. A bike on its side can leak gasoline (Kawasaki's will) and with a hot motor can cause a fire, thus making a bad situation worst. If possible two riders behind the downed rider are best to get the bike up and secured, a third can directly attend to the rider.

Once the site is safe, then attend to the rider. Don't immediately remove his helmet, but use first responder actions. If the bike was on top of the rider, check for burns from the exhaust pipes. The tailgunner (sweep) or another rider can then pull out their first aid kit if needed.

Now the specific situation might require a different sequence of actions, but now you have thought through this particular "What IF" situation and can react faster.

Safety Thought:
When was the last time you checked your suspension system? Do you need to replace the oil in your front forks or replace rear shocks? It is a good time to check this system. (If you ride a Springer hard-tail, disregard.)

On a 40-degree day, if you're riding at 60 mph the temperature will feel like 25 degrees. Dress properly or risk suffering the effects of hypothermia.