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Old 02-18-2014, 08:39 PM   #1
dduelin OP
Oh boy that was close
 
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Three seconds during a 326 mile ride

Sometimes I think about the potential of getting hurt on a motorcycle. I don't have these thoughts very often but sometimes I do, perhaps to remind me this is an activity very intolerant of carelessness or ego. If I am honest I think it might be a single vehicle accident because I misjudged a corner and ran off the pavement or perhaps hitting wildlife on some back road at speed. Until 2/15/14 I never thought I would be gone in the blink of an eye on the interstate.

I was riding back into Jacksonville, FL after a long day riding rural two lane roads. In the interest of making time for home I got on I-10 eastbound about 15 miles out of town and got in the left lane as is my habit. I like to ride in the inside or fast lane at least at or faster than other traffic to control merging or overtaking situations. Except for having to occasionally move into a middle lane to overtake slower traffic also in the left lane I stayed against the inside yellow stripe or left of center lane position on the inside next to the concrete median divider wall. Speed was about 65-70. Traffic around me was doing 55-65. At the end of I-10 in downtown Jacksonville it gets interesting. Drivers have to chose I-95 North or I-95 South or maybe one of several downtown exits and there are three on-ramps introducing cars onto 1-10 along this stretch. I-10 goes from 3 lanes to 5 and there are always cars swapping lanes as they try to jockey into the correct lane. The posted speed limit drops to 55 then 50 but most traffic was moving faster. I was doing about 60 maybe 65. It was 4 PM and fairly crowded. I passed a slower vehicle that was in the left lane and swung back up against the median. Exactly at that point I-10 crosses a road underneath and the overpass creates a blind rise. Coming over the rise I realized a car was driving the wrong way against traffic - going westbound in the eastbound lanes and it was in my lane coming directly at me. When I saw it my brain didn't immediately grasp the closing speed and refused to believe it was happening....it seemed like a long time anyway. On the interstate we are all moving in the same direction with usually small 5 to 15 mph differences in speed and we aren't used to noting or judging distance based on closing speeds of approaching vehicles. I was doing maybe 65 and it was closing on me rapidly, It's weird in the space of a heartbeat I noted it was a 70s era Lincoln Town Car with a small driver scrunched down behind the wheel wearing oversized sunglasses. In the space of one or two seconds I braked hard then got off the brakes as I judged I could not get over into the middle lane and pass left side to left side (like an ordinary two lane road). Almost without thinking I juked left onto the emergency lane to pass right to right. Also in this heartbeat I realized that if the oncoming driver realized his mistake and swerved into the emergency lane against the median wall he would certainly kill me ........ but if I couldn't get clear across to the middle lane we would collide head-on anyway........ I gambled on the inside and juked left.

Just like that......maybe two or three seconds of my life came and went. I made it around the Lincoln and back into my lane but knew there would probably be a horrific collision behind me. I looked back but couldn't take more than a split second glance. I didn't see anything and hours later I learned there was a head-on collision right there and the wrong way driver was killed instantly. She was a 73 year old woman. The unfortunate woman she hit was hospitalized with severe injuries. Today I drove through that section several times in my car and timed about where I think I saw the car and about where we passed. I came up with about 3 or 4 seconds at 60 mph. The head-on collision behind me was about 15 seconds later.

In 2006 when I started riding again I had a one hour ride I would do lots of evenings after work. One of the roads on this loop ran straight for about a mile and there was rarely any traffic on it in the evening. I did a drill on that road where I would swerve back and forth between the painted white stripes separating the two travel lanes on my side of the 4 lanes. It was a game but also was training for me. As I read different books and took riding courses my skill set included learning how to use knees and feet along with countersteering to swerve. On my evening ride I would head over to Talleyrand Ave to practice dodging the white stripes. I got to where I could do it up to about 50 mph and not run over paint. Left-right-left-right-left until my wrists felt the effort. That's an old game now but I believe all that weaving back then probably saved my life. I also credit the book The Upper Half Of The Motorcycle by Speigel. In the book when he discusses mentally focusing on escape routes instead of obstacles ("finding the gaps!") he diagrams the cross section of an interstate road or autobahn. Given cars are about 8 feet wide, the 12 to 14 foot width of lanes, plus shoulders there is almost always more than enough room to ride a motorcycle between lanes "blocked" with stopped or oncoming traffic.

Plain old luck also gave me a huge break. I was not following or trapped in a pack and being out in front at the "moment" gave me a clear sight line and the longest possible time to see, plan, and execute. Still, I feel like a very lucky man. I have a daughter to give away at a wedding in May.

http://www.news4jax.com/news/1-kille...z/-/index.html
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:00 PM   #2
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Damn... That's a close call. Glad you came out on the positive end of that one and didn't become a new report. I think I'll do some drills when riding season starts. Thanks for sharing
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:33 PM   #3
tkent02
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Good for you for developing and using the skills needed. Well done sir.
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Old 02-18-2014, 09:46 PM   #4
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Damn is right. Thanks for sharing. I too, will be practicing my lane swerving drills....I bet it was an extreme pucker moment (seconds) while passing right to right and wondering if the other driver even knew you were there....
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:19 PM   #5
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Wowsers, that's a bold move. Glad you are ok, and thanks for sharing.
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:34 PM   #6
yzedf
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Generally more options if you ride the right side of the left lane or the left side of the middle lane. Glad you made it out okay, too bad about the two women though.
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:41 PM   #7
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Time sure seems to fly in these situations.

I was in a bad wreck in my mid-20s. The time between spotting the car that pulled out from a side street into my lane and my hitting them could not have been more than a couple of seconds, but I did a lot of thinking of alternatives and then choosing what was the best of a bad lot.

Glad to hear you're okay. The lesson here is, never give up. And, perhaps people need to be abilities-tested every couple of years to keep their driver's license once they hit 70.
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Old 02-18-2014, 10:51 PM   #8
tkent02
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Originally Posted by ObiJohn View Post
And, perhaps people need to be abilities-tested every couple of years to keep their driver's license once they hit 70.
More likely whoever designed freeway on and off ramps should make them so no one can get it wrong.
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Old 02-19-2014, 12:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by tkent02 View Post
More likely whoever designed freeway on and off ramps should make them so no one can get it wrong.
Wow. just wow.

First of all, this doesn't sound like it occurred on a divided limited-access highway.
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:16 AM   #10
dduelin OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yzedf View Post
Generally more options if you ride the right side of the left lane or the left side of the middle lane. Glad you made it out okay, too bad about the two women though.
I don't strictly disagree that at times right of center inside lane is a better choice on a multi lane high speed road. I adjust to the conditions around me at the time and the best lane position is fluid. When traffic is moving fast with good following distances and good sight lines I'll stay over left. If gaps are smaller, following distances shorter, with cramped sight lines I'll generally move right of center in the left lane to better be seen by drivers on my right that might be considering diving left into the gap I am occupying. I almost never ride in a center or outside lane where I have to defend my position from both sides.

Lane positions are sometimes the best compromise of the moment.
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Old 02-19-2014, 04:28 AM   #11
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Wowsers. Glad you are ok.
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:01 AM   #12
JohnCW
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dduelin View Post
I almost never ride in a center or outside lane where I have to defend my position from both sides.

Lane positions are sometimes the best compromise of the moment.
+1

I ride in heavy peak hour traffic every day and don't think enough people give this the thought it deserves. In a pack of traffic I try to always be in either the inner or outer most lane. You only have cars on one side of you and can 100% control your position in relation to that one car. You can quickly pass, or sit so that if it does swap lanes it'll pass in front of you. With cars on both sides moving at different speeds you cannot control the situation.

When not in a pack of traffic I'll move to the middle lanes as your much more visible out there to traffic joining from side roads, and you have two way to go in an emergency.

So riding in heavy 3 or 4 lane traffic its a constant shift to either the innner/outer lane when it a pack of cars, and to the middle when between the packs.
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Old 02-19-2014, 05:58 AM   #13
tkent02
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Originally Posted by henshao View Post
Wow. just wow.

First of all, this doesn't sound like it occurred on a divided limited-access highway.
Interstate 10?
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Old 02-19-2014, 06:05 AM   #14
KX50002
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Originally Posted by tkent02 View Post
Interstate 10?
Too many words, didn't read.
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Old 02-19-2014, 06:08 AM   #15
KX50002
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tkent02 View Post
More likely whoever designed freeway on and off ramps should make them so no one can get it wrong.
How, exactly, would you propose to do that?
I can't see how anyone could get going the wrong way, there are usually signs "Do not enter" posted the wrong way in, also usually you have to make a seriously sharp turn to get onto the ramps backwards.

I'd like to see a map/ sat image of the area and try to figure out where the old bat got on.

Looks like she might've gotten on at stockton street, she made it pretty far, going the wrong way against 60 mph traffic.
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