Approaching an intersection

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If you feel the need to get hit by a car, this is a prime place to do so. The #1 occurrence of motorcycle-to-car accidents is a car turning left into the path of an oncoming bike. You should be prepared for car drivers to be stupid at any time, but intersections are places where more care than normal is called for.

Take a look at the handy diagram here. You are Mr Green Motorcycle.


Ms Pink Cadillac is coming toward you. Mr Yellow SUV is going to make a right turn into your lane. His vision could be obscured by Mr Blue Bus. Ms Orange VW is right behind you.

As you can tell, there is a lot that can go wrong here. Most of it involves the classic "I didn't even see the motorcycle" apology/defense. Ms Pink could decide to turn left at the last minute. Mr Yellow could turn right without being able to see you through Mr Blue. If you stop, Ms Orange could run up your tailpipe.

Any of these things can happen at any time, but things get really weird when the light turns yellow. You want to run yellow lights (usually). This will help avoid being rammed from the back, but you'll still have to watch out for people making last-second decisions to enter the intersection. Their snap judgement may not include seeing you, and they could turn in front of you.

The only way to avoid one or all of these scenarios is to be aware that they can happen and try to predict what the drivers might do in the next couple seconds. The price of motorcyling freedom is eternal vigilance.

See also: Stopping in traffic