When you ride a motorcycle you should be constantly evaluating your riding conditions and changing your riding technique to best fit those conditions. The motorcycle industry has developed an acronym to help you remember how you should be identifying and reacting to situations. The acronym is SIPDE or Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute. Lets go over each word and what it means.
You should constantly be aware of what’s in front, to the sides and behind you. I call this situational awareness. You should develop a scan that includes your mirrors, your controls, and the area ahead of you. Be on the lookout for potential hazards and escape routes. When changing lanes be sure to check your mirrors early and often. When slowing to stop, check your mirrors to ensure that other motorists behind you are aware that you’re stopping. Maintain a 12 second visual lead. This means that you should be looking at where you’ll be 12 seconds from now.
Identify the situation ahead. Is there a hazard? Multiple hazards? Escape routes? Identify each situation by what represents a threat and what represents an opportunity or escape route. The motorcycle safety foundation recommends separating hazards into three separate and distinct categories. 1. Other vehicles sharing the road. 2. Pedestrians and animals. 3. Stationary objects. Each category represents a different level of risk and each needs to be handled differently.
Anticipate what the hazard is going to do. Predict what might happen when you get to that point of the road and formulate escape routes. It’s wise to predict based on the worse that could happen so you’ll be ready for whatever happens.
Select a course of action. These can include but are not limited to letting your presence be known, changing speed, changing direction or some combination of the three. Be sure to account for your skill level and road conditions when deciding on a course of action.
Take action based on what you decided to do. If you can, separate the hazards so you’re only dealing with one at a time. Continue scanning and adjust your actions based on the situation. Remember riding a motorcycle is fluid and things might change. Concentrate on the motorcycle and what you can control. Create a larger safety bubble around the motorcycle. Your safety bubble is the amount of space between you and other vehicles sharing the road with you. When following cars or trucks you should have a 4-5 second safety bubble. When in wet or adverse conditions increase this to 7-8 seconds.
Remember to always be aware of your surroundings when riding and when its time to take action take it. Keep your head in the game when riding. Ride safe and ride smart.