Turn Lane Terror
--Motorcycle Consumer News
by Ken Codon
Commuting home requires you to share the road with all types of drivers. You understand that motorcycles can be difficult to see in traffic, so you give surrounding drivers plenty of space to change lanes. You are particularly cautious about riding in drivers' blind spots.
Your turn is coming up at the next intersection, which features a dedicated right-hand turning lane with a traffic light at a four-way crossroad. You are following a blue SUV who is approaching a line of cars that are stopped for the light. The SUV slows while remaining in the travel lane as he approaches the intersection. You assume he is going to stop in line with the other cars, so you signal, roll off the throttle and move right into the turning lane. You plan to maintain your current speed as you proceed past the stopped cars on your left to the stop line.
When you are just about to the SUV's rear bumper, the driver swerves directly in front of you, only inches away from your front tire! You grab the front brake and swerve to the right, but the combination of brake force and side force from swerving causes your front tire to skid and you crash hard onto the road surface. The SUV driver never notices your fall and continues on. You manage to get up and raise your bike. Damage includes a bent shifter, clutch lever and handlebar. It's clear that your ride is over. You were smart to allow extra space for unexpected maneuvers from careless drivers. But, you did not anticipate the probability that the SUV would make a lane change and rode into the SUV driver's blind spot as the precise moment when he was most likely to change lanes.
It is difficult to anticipate when a driver is going to make a last second maneuver, but it's important to know that it is a possibility. To reduce the risk of a collision, you should have delayed passing the SUV until you were sure it was going to stop in the travel lane behind the other cars. Also, it's smart to ride as far to the right as possible to allow a buffer of space in case the driver makes the lane change. The best riders know that precise timing and lane placement can mean the difference between a collision and a near miss.