Beware of the woolly mammoth at junctions and side roads!

Many moons ago when our ancestors still lived in caves they developed certain primary instincts that helped them survive and see off the Neanderthals. Though they remain with us to this day when it comes to motorcycling these instincts don’t always play in our favour.

Hopefully you will never hear a SMIDSY (Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You) uttered by a driver who had five seconds earlier been staring straight at you but still pulled out from a side road into your path. There is often a rationale to this behaviour and it comes down to prioritisation. As with their ancestral cousins and the woolly mammoth, a driver will prioritise a bigger vehicle to the motorcycle. This is therefore an important thing to be aware of when riding in front of a bus or lorry while approaching a car in a side road or junction.

What can I do about it?

  • Scan and plan, your head can move. Don’t just look straight ahead; expand your vision line by looking from side to side. Use your peripheral vision to help give you necessary information. Use your mirrors to check what is behind you.
  • Ensure that you are as visible as possible in terms of clothing and road position
  • Check that you are clear in your intentions (have you left your indicator on, are you in a road position that may give drivers the wrong impression).
  • Ride at a speed that allows you to process information at a steady pace. Position yourself accordingly.
  • Consider slowing down and be ready to stop when approaching junctions and side roads.
  • Ride at an appropriate speed and in a responsive gear that will allow you to stop in good time.
  • Be aware of driver behaviour and try and achieve proper eye contact, never assume the driver has seen you.
  • Consider using the horn (but be courteous and wave a thank you after passing the vehicle).


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