In 2001, Mark Gardiner gave up his career in advertising, and moved to the Isle of Man to live out his childhood dream of racing in the TT. After returning to the U.S., he wrote a memoir of that experience, Riding Man, which is now in development as a feature film. His column, Backmarker, looks at everything from the motorcycle industry as a whole to intensely personal 'inside stories.'
As a rule Motorcycle USA refrains from posting videos of motorcycle crashes, and we have never posted video of a fatal crash. But MotoUSA has chosen to make an exception for the following story by our Backmarker columnist Mark Gardiner. The embedded video below shows the fatal collision of rider and automobile in Norfolk, England. While the video does not show graphic images of the deceased, it contains footage of the fatal collision which some may find distressing.
The video, which has been viewed more than 11 million times on YouTube, was released by the local police as part of a road safety campaign. The rider’s family cooperated in the production, with the video stating: “It is their wish this footage is released to make riders and drivers think more seriously about road safety.” In republishing the video with Mark’s analysis, MotoUSA hopes to convey the campaign’s intended message to our readers. – MotoUSA Editor
Last week, a horrific helmet-cam video went viral. It shows a fatal motorcycle crash, from the rider’s perspective. Normally, I wouldn’t touch this kind of video with a ten-foot pole, but for some reason, I watched it. After watching it, I realized that the video highlights a number of dangerous assumptions and bad habits that are common to many motorcyclists.
I note that the driver of the car involved was charged in the accident, in spite of the fact that the guy on the motorcycle was traveling nearly 100 mph moments before the crash. This was a classic, “I didn’t see you, mate” accident. This happens, all over the world, many times a day. I thought motorcyclists could learn from it, so I posted the following analysis on my personal blog at Bikewriter.com.
Within a few days, the story was among the Top 10 most-read posts on the blog, bumping posts which have been accumulating views for years. I had people sending me FB messages to the effect of, “I think you may save some lives with this post.”
That made me want to share it with a wider audience, so I offered it to Motorcycle USA, who has agreed to put it up.
His brief yell, as he realizes what’s about to happen, is heart-rending. In the video, his mum says, “He had no time to take evasive action.” He certainly has no time now. Although he’s on the brakes, his speed’s still barely changed. Considering the vectors involved, serious injury or death are now the only possible outcomes.
Or, as a last-last-last ditch tactic, there’s always jumping off the footpegs, in the hope that you’ll clear the car. (Don’t scoff; I know a racer who leapt completely over an Armco barrier that destroyed his motorcycle on impact. He broke an ankle, and lived to joke about it.)
It’s worth noting that the car driver admitted that he hadn’t seen the motorcyclist. But even if he had seen him, he had been driving down a road, meeting oncoming traffic traveling 60-70 mph. When he saw a motorcycle up ahead, he couldn’t have expected it to close at a 50% greater speed. The car driver might have turned even if he had seen the motorcycle.
I’m not blaming the motorcyclist (although his illegal speed was a major contributing factor.) But what the… This accident was completely avoidable. As a motorcyclist, you should never assume you’ve been seen unless/until you’ve made eye contact with drivers, and you should never, ever assume they realize you’re going 100 mph.
In the next regularly-scheduled Backmarker, on Sept. 18, I’ll follow this up with a useful way of thinking about situational awareness, and two mental ‘games’ that you can play while riding, that will prepare you for this kind of worst-case scenario.
In the meantime, please do me a favor and watch one more upsetting video.