Loc: BC, Canada
Re: Laying it down vs braking
06/30/10 11:31 PM
This sobering story found in another forum... while 'slightly' OT, is nevertheless pertinent to the thread.
"I used to think that I was a pretty smart rider and that by keeping my bike well maintained, never mixing motorcycling and alcohol, and religiously following ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) would keep me from harm....that all changed this morning.
It was a rare, sunny, gorgeous dry day here in eastern PA. The kind of day that left no doubt in your mind when you got up that the commute would be done on two wheels instead of four. I got on the usual boots, gloves, helmet, and ventilated (and armored) jacket and pants to head out at 6 AM on the 40 mile commute to work. The first 12 miles are the most beautiful asphalt roller coaster before you hit the slab and I was making great time through every twist and turn without a single car, so far so good.
The back roads transitioned to a minor country highway before the turnpike and it was looking like a good start to the ride as I was headed south on these nice wooded sweepers. I saw another bike headed north towards me coming off a gentle curve, I noticed a couple vehicles on a side road coming up on my left....and that's when it all went bad.
I was a couple hundred yards from all of this when this big Ford F-150 pickup (the kind with the monster front end) slowly pulls out from my left to make the turn southbound right in front of the oncoming bike. The bike was not traveling at an excessive speed (about 60mph by my guess). The truck kept pulling out slowly, saw the bike, and stopped dead in his lane with his wheels on the dividing line. The truck obscured my view of the bike but I saw a big swerve, the bike glanced off the truck, crossed my lane, and hit the grassy slope of the lawn on my right. The bike stopped but the rider was thrown another 50 feet up onto the grass.
I immediately pulled over to check on the rider and the first words out of my mouth were 'Oh ******'. He quietly responded 'Dude, not now' so at least I knew he was conscious (the squeamish should read no further).
The reason I said 'Oh ******' was that he was on his side with one leg in the air and the part of his leg below the knee was 95% amputated with blood spurting out. I yelled to the other motorists to call 911, grabbed a belt out of my saddle bag, and did my best to use it as a tourniquet. As near as I can tell his leg had been crushed between the impact of the bike with the front bumper of the truck. The impact had also tried to push his femur out his right ****** cheek and it wasn't pretty. As I tried to get the bleeding under control, fortune smiled on this poor ****** and an EMT on his way to work stopped less than a minute or two later.
A couple radio calls, another EMT stopping on his way to work, and a whole 15 minutes later brought an ambulance. Throughout this whole thing I'm holding this tourniquet and the EMT's are trying to cut off his clothing and determine the extent of his other injuries. He was thrown up on a grassy lawn so he had no road rash, no head trauma and no apparent internal injuries. He was amazingly lucid (and totally in shock I'm sure). The EMT's got a neck brace on him, we got him onto a back board, and into the ambulance. When I had two seconds to breathe, I then realized that all the good gear in the world would not have made *one bit of difference*.
The young guy was riding an old Harley Sportster, combat boots, leather jacket, NO helmet, and that's about it. His leg had been severed above the boot by the truck's bumper, no good gear could have lessened this trauma. He didn't hit the pavement, no road rash. He hit the grass sliding so no head trauma. If I had been in his shoes with the gear I had on, I would have been in the exact...same...condition.
My first instinct was to throw blame on the clueless pickup driver that pulled out in front of him. The thing was though that the driver pulled out slowly and if the Harley rider was more alert he might have had more options. The police officer also claimed that this bike had passed other motorists earlier on but there are legal passing on this road so no judgment there. I saw a bit of braking, a violent swerve, then BOOM. In looking at the bike it had mediocre tires and Harley has never seemed to put a premium on winning any 'shortest stopping distance' contests.
Did the truck driver pull out in front of the bike? Definitely. Did he see the biker? Maybe, but it only registered at the last minute. Was the guy riding too fast? Maybe. Could he have stopped in time? Maybe. The road curves a bit but the sight lines aren't that bad. The biker is a local guy on his way to work and would have known the road well.
This story appeared an hour later in the local news: http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=231590
How many of you would have, reading this story at face value, think 'Dumbass rider, no helmet, got what he deserved'? Being the cocky self righteous ****** that I am I know I would have. I would totally have put the blame on the driver and think that wearing all the right gear and having a great bike that it would never happen to ME. Being there gave me a completely different point of view.
I felt sorry for both guys. Sorry for the pickup driver that probably didn't see the biker (or contentiously register him) and will have to live with the life altering injury that his actions caused. Sorry for the biker that was tooling along to work on a beautiful summer day who now will only need to buy one half of a pair of shoes. Plenty of blame to go around....no winners.
I'm sorry for the long winded diatribe but it has been a tough day and I wanted to share this thought...Even with all the best gear, a great bike, and competent rider, it can all go to ****** with a moment's inattention.
- Never let your mind wander
- Cover those brakes when you see a car at an intersection
- Assume you're invisible to other drivers
As a personal note it has made me consider that a few hundred bucks might not be a bad investment in First Responder or EMT training at the local college along with a better first aid kit for my bike.
Stay safe, please...
Live to love, love to live.