July 1, 2016: No Surprises; Avoiding "Accidents" on the Road

The reader is excused for thinking it ironic that "Crash Dudley" is writing a safety article, but who better to write about crashes than one who has had a few?

There is one thing that I can remember from each time I've had a motor vehicle accident. I was surprised; shocked, even, that a good day was about to become a very bad day. One minute, I'm riding (or driving; doesn't matter) along, thinking about "things", and the next, I find myself going sideways, or head over heels.

Afterwards, (could be seconds, could be longer), I realize, with a shock, that I was sharing the road with something of which I was completely unaware. Usually another vehicle where I didn't expect there to be one; sometimes a non-vehicle, like, to pick something completely at random, a wheel barrow.

Sometimes I have had this surprise moment *without* everything going pear-shaped. I get the surprise, but not the crash. (I may need to change my undies, however.) At those times, I realize how lucky I was; had I taken a slightly different path, that surprise could have put me on the ground, but I lucked out and "dodged the bullet." These are also moments when I re-evaluate whether or not I should be riding, whether or not I should be carrying my wife as passenger.

The advice here is obvious. Avoid surprises. Like the training stresses, keep your "head on a swivel". Check your mirrors regularly. *ALWAYS* do a head check before a lane change or pulling out onto a road. *Don't* assume that the lane next to you is clear, just because you don't *think* someone has caught up to you in the last 10 minutes. Try to assume the worst; not only that "they" are out to kill you, but that "they" are randomly creating threats when you aren't looking.

If you can avoid surprises, then I believe that you can avoid "accidents". Even a loss of traction is a surprise; you assumed you had more of it then you did. You gambled with physics, and physics won. Surprise!

I hope you all have totally unsurprising rides from here on.

Bill Dudley
New Jersey

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