What to do when an Emergency Vehicle is behind you.
As a experienced driver you can be unsure what to do when she hear sirens and see blue lights behind you. You know they need to get to their destination quickly. As a learner driver it can be especially worrying.
Blue Light Aware is a short video, produced on behalf of the emergency services. Their crews rely on the help of other road users when they’re on a ‘blue light’ journey.
By watching Blue Light Aware, you will better understand their needs, you will be reducing the risks you face, you will be contributing to a safer road environment and you might also be helping to save a life.
Please note, this video contains flash photography.
You can use the acceleration of the car or bike to help you negotiate road, traffic conditions and hazards. This doesn’t mean always accelerating or picking up speed.
When approaching vehicles moving slower than me, do I always need to brake?
With accurate use of the throttle you can reduce the amount of braking needed, if any, and reduce fuel costs as well as tyre wear.
Acceleration Sense requires several things:
Judgement of speed and distance
Understanding how your vehicle works
Your driving or riding will become smoother with good throttle control.
Drive or ride a route you are familiar with and try to anticipate the potential hazards or traffic that would normally make you brake. Try and look so far ahead that you don’t accelerate in to those situations but ease off the throttle; either maintain a good speed or reduce it through normal tyre friction on the road or engine braking.
There is another result to this that makes you safer whilst driving or riding: You are more aware of potential hazards and probably keep a better following distance from vehicles.
We don’t always see eye to eye with other road users. As we are human just like they are.
Wrapped up in cages or dressed up with motorcycle helmet helps to remove some of the human element from our interactions.
We don’t see those other road users as real people
I found myself chuntering away under my breath inside my cosy motorcycle helmet, about another driver. He had done something that must have been the equivalent of slapping me in the face, because I was not happy.
I think all he had done was braked suddenly, realising he was about to miss his turning, indicated and turned quickly. This caused me to brake hard as well.
So was I angry at the other driver or myself for not seeing it coming and being further back? Probably a bit of both.
I realised I was now concentrating on the wrong thing. I was concentrating on the other driver and not the road ahead.
I found myself saying “Have a word with yourself and wind your neck in. Get on with riding”
So a few suggestions to help keep calm when riding or driving:
Concentrate on what’s in front of you. Find something to enjoy the drive or ride (even if its only that you aren’t soaked by rain!)
Shrug your shoulders or try to physically release tension (I know, not so easy on a bike)
Try and think positively (at least that driver has turned of and will no longer bother me)
Try singing to yourself! (Proper music might be better but don’t let it distract you from driving or riding.)
Don’t dwell on the past but maybe after your journey evaluate your drive / ride.
What is a hazard: In driving terms it is something that might make you slow, stop, speed up or adjust your course.
Static, Moving, Environmental (and you the driver!)
Are you safe to drive?
Are you ill, drunk, or on medication that may affect your driving?
Had enough sleep, do you have a good attitude (not upset or angry)?
Are you fed and watered?
These are obstacles in your path such as junctions, parked cars, road surface or street furniture (i.e. traffic calming)
These are things such as other vehicles, cyclist, motorcycles, horses, Persons directing traffic…
When you recognise these potential hazards you must decide what to do and how this might affect other road users.
Time and Space
Learning to identify hazards early will give you more time use that information, decide what to do and act on it.
Scan the road ahead. Don’t just look at your bonnet or front wheel!
Check your mirrors regularly to understand what is around and behind you.
Watch for visual clues to a potential danger or hazard (Visual Links)
Look around over, under and through objects to get a head start on identifying potential hazards. Observation & Anticipation.
Remember: Speed Limits are just that, limits not targets!
If you can’t give yourself space then give yourself time.
If potential hazards are close by i.e. parked cars on your side of the road, and you are out of your normal road position to pass those cars, with oncoming traffic… assuming you had enough space to start with, slow things down. Give yourself time to react to changing events. If you don’t have enough room then better planning is needed!
Observation & Anticipation –
Time and / or space: If you can’t have one have the other but both is better.
Like most things in life, preparation helps. If you are prepared before you get there, it’s mostly plain sailing. PLAN!
I say mostly because not everyone else plans!
Top Tips when approaching a roundabout, especially larger and more complicated ones.
Read the signs.
They normally give you a big clue as to which way you need to go. At least they tell you how many exits and what the road numbers are. They also give you information on the placed you would be heading towards.
Look at the ground.
The road, normally on the multi-laned roundabouts, will have markings telling you which lane to go in for your exit or destination.
Follow the road.
If there are multiple lanes they are normally marked around the round about. Follow your lane. There will be a break at the exit or the lane will guide you off at your exit.
Watch for people who realise they are in the wrong lane.
Keep on target.
Stay in your lane as you go around. Generally you will be in the left lanes for turning left or going straight on. In the right lane for straight on or right. The signs and road marking will tell you.
If you find you are coming off at the wrong exit, it may be better to take that exit and turn around one safely off the roundabout.
Cutting back in to the roundabout when people think you are leaving could be asking for trouble!
If you are making a journey, sometimes within you preparation its worth looking at a map either online, paper-based or on a sat nav. This can give you a better idea of the road numbers and directions. It also can help by telling you what exits you may need.
BEWARE: Satellite Navigation doesn’t always tell you the truth! Use it with caution. It can be a great aid though (assuming your mapping is up to date)
Paper based and online methods can also be out of date if there have been recent changes to a road layout.
Come and have a session with us if you feel you need some practice or tips.
Is it always the drivers fault? Out and about today in the summer sun it appeared to be.
Several occasions today I had drivers either pull out of junctions making me slow dramatically or cut across my path because they couldn’t see me or judge my speed.
– The best today being a lady not stopping at a roundabout until she was almost blocking the whole thing, again in front of me. She did look confused by car control though.
Why might other drivers not see us?
Mr or Mrs Joe Bloggs don’t go out with the intention of causing an accident or killing a motorcycle rider.
What does a car driver see?
Like most car drivers I am looking at other cars or maybe the spaces between them. Because I ride a bike I look for motorcycles and cyclists. We are not normally in the foremost of their driver’s minds, we are just another obstacle which they must add to their potentially overloaded thoughts.
In general, if you can alert the driver by looking like a motorcycle, that helps.
Lets think of a few things that help camouflage us from other road users.
What is the correct speed to go around a corner?
Limit Points I hear you say.
Back to basics:
Limit Points are used to help riders and drivers understand the shape and angle of a bend and the direction of the road in relation to the speed the bike or car is moving.
If the limit point is moving away from you then the bend or corner is either straightening out or the speed the vehicle is approaching the bend is slower than it could be to negotiate the bend. If the limit point is coming closer than speed needs to be scrubbed off.
What’s around the next corner?
The limit Point may tell you about the physical make-up of the bend but it doesn’t tell you there is a car stopped part way round the corner out of sight.
You should always be at a speed that you can ‘stop safely with the distance you can see to be clear and on your side of the road’.
Although the limit point tells you your speed is good for the corner itself, you do need to take in visual clues (if any) about what might be around the next corner.
What could you reasonably expect?
Are there bins out ready for collection or mud on the road… both may indicate large vehicles around the next corner. There are many other visual clues or links to help you decide what might be around the next corner.
But sometimes it can be out of the blue…
An example of the correct speed for a corner despite a visual point telling me I could go faster, happened this morning while out on a ride.
The Story So Far
As I approached one of many rural corners we have here in Devon, I was confronted by a very large tractor with some form of pointed agricultural spikes on the front on the opposite side of the road. That was not the problem, it was the stopped car on my side of the road who felt the gap between the hedge and tractor was not enough for him/her to get through safely.
My ABS wasn’t required as the road was dry but braking was much harder than I would normally aim for. I was not quite doing the speed that the corner’s Vanishing Point or speed limit told me I could do.
I had no warning or visual clues i.e. brake lights, or in fact seen the vehicles ahead of me prior to the corner. My ‘position’ was also limited (I could not position for a better view) by the type of road I was on and experience of the road with other road users warned me.