Author Topic: Swerve or Stop  (Read 1094 times)

Offline qcbaker

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Re: Swerve or Stop
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2019, 07:52:29 PM »
I'm also trying to make the argument against "braking is better than swerving" in a purely muscle-memory reflexive "ShaZam! hits the shaFan!" type of scenario.

I think the average rider has a natural preference to stop as it's a simpler action (no need to pick a course, just apply the controls), and I won't disagree that if you end up swerving directly into something you'll hit that something at full force, but in a snap decision I believe you are more likely to avoid the collision by swerving, where as more likely to be involved in the collision (all be it at a lower speed) when only braking, since altering course puts you out of immediate harm's way.  Furthermore, if there is another collision trap as a result of your swerve you may have more time to deal with this one now that the first one has been successfully avoided.

What you're saying about swerving isn't wrong. I just think that as a "default", it relies much more heavily on rider skill than braking. Which, for a person like you who eats sleeps and breathes riding by riding every day and spending their time teaching riding skills, makes it a much more palatable course of action. But for most riders (sadly), their riding education starts and ends with the MSF course, if they even decide to take it. Which puts them in a much lower skill category than you. For a rider who doesn't corner really confidently or rides a huge hog that doesn't respond well to quick steering inputs (although there are highly skilled riders who can make those kinds of bikes dance...) braking is probably a much safer option, even if it results in a collision. Because swerving would probably result in an even worse collision.

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The article points to swerving as a poor choice as the bike may leave the roadway especially if the rider has poor skill.  However, it does not go on to confirm if the bike leaving the roadway resulted in a crash.  In my cited personal example, I left the roadway and didn't crash.  However, continuing to brake would have resulted in me crashing into a car.
I would absolutely prefer leaving the roadway to colliding with a vehicle or other object, even though leaving the roadway is inherently dangerous.

Like I said, you're a highly skilled rider, so swerving was definitely the right choice for you in that situation. But, if you had been Jim Bob who only rides his Road King maybe 4 weekends a year, maybe the best decision for them would simply be the one that results in the least harm to their body. Which, for a low-skill rider like Jim Bob, may just be braking so that he only rear ends the car ahead at 20mph rather than swerving and losing control of the bike off the road at 50mph.

Should Jim Bob ride more often and practice his skills so that he can swerve properly? No doubt. But does he? Probably not.

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They do highlight increased danger with poor skills.  Riders should absolutely be practicing swerving.  It's easy to do with relatively low risk on a daily basis on public roads at roadway speeds.
Traffic allowing, just swerve around manhole covers and painted lines and stuff.
Emergency braking essentially requires you to practice in a controlled environment, making it sometimes difficult to properly develop.  Swerving is a lot less demanding, and once proficient I think can be a more favorable action than braking.

Again, I don't really disagree, I just think that for the vast majority of riders, because they don't practice as much as they should, braking is probably the "safer" option for them even if it isn't technically the best course of action. Reason being, more often than not, it results in less bodily harm to them, even if they do end up crashing.

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@mr72

I really dislike your ratio of 1/5 vs 4/5, if for nother reason that the statement "braking is preferred, even if you are going to crash, because at least you crash at lower speed."
To me, any crash is a failure.  It's the same reason I really can't stand the "I had to lay it down to avoid a crash" BS.  You crashed trying to avoid a crash.  Sorry not sorry, but you either made a bad decision or you are a bad rider.
Nothing against them personally, but it's a valid conclusion.  Almost no crashes are unavoidable, people who do crash either lack the skill, lack the judgement, or made a poor choice.

I don't really disagree with your logic but if a rider lacks the skill to execute the ideal course of action, the next best course of action for them is to minimize bodily harm. Which, more often than not, is accomplished by braking hard (rubber side down, obviously) and hoping for the best.

Definitely agree that "I had to lay it down..." is always wrong, though. No arguments there.

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If you are fine with the decision that leads to a low speed collision, that's something you can live with on your own.  To me that's unacceptable.
It's hard to say with certainty since this is all hypothetical and speculative, but if you  say to me "in this situation I only had time to brake, but I still hit the car" I'm going to respond with "that's bull crap, there was somewhere you could have swerved to, you just failed to make the correct decision."

Example hypothetical: you are riding in the middle lane on a three lane highway. There is a tractor trailer on either side of you, and a vehicle in front of you. The vehicle in front slams on their brakes. Where do you swerve in that situation? Swerving left or right results in you hitting the side of a truck.

I know the counter argument is that you should have had enough situational awareness not to get fully boxed in like that in the first place, and yeah that's obviously ideal. But arguing that you should have simply avoided the situation entirely is like saying every crash is technically avoidable because you could have just not gotten on the bike that day. Technically correct, but not really good advice, IMO.

People make mistakes. And most of the time, they don't realize it until its too late to correct. The only thing you can do once you've made that kind of mistake is minimize the damage.

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I'm almost the complete opposite, I think in the majority of situations a swerve is preferable to a stop.  To me stopping is a last ditch nowhere to go action.

Maybe you're right that the ideal action is to swerve in most situations but we can't really quantify that in any meaningful way. But, for most riders, I think the skill level is too low for an ideal  swerve maneuver to be accomplished safely, even if it is technically the "right move". So IMO, for most riders, braking is safer since it minimizes the damage.

Offline qcbaker

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Re: Swerve or Stop
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2019, 08:13:47 PM »
This is demonstrably not true. I guess it depends on the quantity which is "almost no" in that statement.

While I agree that it depends on how you interpret "almost no", I'm more inclined to agree with Watcher on this. I think that for the vast majority of crashes, there was a course of action that would've avoided it, even if it wasn't immediately apparent.

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Sometimes you have to plan for the best of bad outcomes.

I agree here though.

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BTW in about half a million miles of driving over 30 years I have had 7 car wrecks and only one could have been avoided. If I had been on a motorcycle in those crashes, only one of the unavoidable car crashes would have been possible to avoid on a motorcycle unless you could see the future.

No disrespect, but I really doubt that 6 of your crashes were "unavoidable". I don't know the details of them, and the only perspective I can get is yours, which is obviously biased. So, I'm not gonna waste time speculating about what you could've done differently. But, the vast majority of the time I've watched a crash video (car or bike), I've been able to outline a course of action that would have at worst reduced the chance of a crash.

I do want to point out that I am of the opinion that there do exist situations where a crash is unavoidable. And I've seen videos where I went "Yeah, I can't really think of anything the driver/rider could have done differently to change the outcome". But, for the overwhelming majority, the crash is a result of sub-optimal decisions. However, I will concede that sometimes, the optimal decisions that would have avoided the crash are outside of the rider's skill level. But that doesn't make the crash itself "unavoidable" in a general sense.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2019, 08:17:18 PM by qcbaker »

Offline mr72

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Re: Swerve or Stop
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2019, 09:47:46 PM »
No disrespect, but I really doubt that 6 of your crashes were "unavoidable". I don't know the details of them,...

Well, OK, they could have all been avoided by not driving at all those days.

All but one could have been avoided by driving no more than maybe 5 mph, which would have given me enough time to actually act.

from most recent:
1. driver rear-ended me while I sat at a red light, that's unavoidable (by me).
2. car turned left across my lane, emerging from a gap between a line of cars to my left. Car was completely invisible until they were actually in my lane, I was going about 50mph and had no awareness of the wreck happening until after I had hit the car. Absolutely unavoidable.
3. truck backed over the front of my Miata while sitting at a stop light ... completely unavoidable  (by me)
4. car hit slick spot on road during a left turn and went off the road (same Miata), hit a guy wire holding a telephone pole bending the fender and bent a lower control arm -- this was avoidable
5. driver ran a stop sign at intersection, semi truck parked up next to the stop sign in the shoulder so the car was not visible until I hit it, I was going 45mph. Absolutely unavoidable.
6. turning right onto 3-lane-wide access road, driver from main freeway (I35) came off the ramp directly in front of my turn and crossed out of the ramp and across 3 lanes to hit me mid-turn, other driver going 65mph, this hit was so hard it knocked my car about 900 degrees, 1/4 mile down the road into a ditch, cracked the engine block and obliterated the transaxle. totally unavoidable.
7. driver in left turn lane switched into my lane as I passed on the right, hit me in the driver's door. unavoidable.

Now, out of those, it's possible #7 would have been avoidable just because maybe a bike could be narrow enough that I would have fully passed the other car before they got far enough into the lane to hit me. #1, I probably could have avoided on a motorcycle because I could have slipped the bike to the side of the truck on the right once I saw the reverse lights come on. 6 would have probably been fatal on a motorcycle, and 5-6 would have been very bad motorcycle wrecks because you can't T-bone a car in the front fender going 45-50mph without bad consequences.

Offline qcbaker

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Re: Swerve or Stop
« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2019, 02:57:29 PM »
No disrespect, but I really doubt that 6 of your crashes were "unavoidable". I don't know the details of them,...

Well, OK, they could have all been avoided by not driving at all those days.

All but one could have been avoided by driving no more than maybe 5 mph, which would have given me enough time to actually act.

You left out the most important part of what I said: I don't know the details of them, and the only perspective I can get is yours, which is obviously biased.

I don't really want to argue with you about whether or not your accidents truly were unavoidable. I don't have videos to look at or anything like that. The only information I do have is from you, the person telling me they were unavoidable. So of course any account you give of them is going to make them look unavoidable. Maybe they happened exactly as you say and were essentially unavoidable. But I don't have any objective way of making that determination, so its kind of a waste of time.


Example:
 
Based on your description, it sounds to me like #5 was avoidable. If there was a semi truck parked on the shoulder blocking your visibility to the intersection, you should have slowed down so that you had reaction time available in the event that someone either couldn't see you and entered the intersection before it was clear or failed to stop entirely (which they did). I'm not saying the accident was your fault, it obviously isn't, given that the other driver failed to stop at the sign. But, based on the limited information given to me, it seems like it was avoidable.

But since I don't have any information other than the description you gave, I could be completely wrong. Plus, you can just add a detail that negates my current interpretation and I have no way of verifying it. I don't think an debate like this can really be had in good faith when my only source of information is biased. I'm not saying you'd lie just to make yourself seem right, but nobody is immune to their own biases.