Sorry, I didn’t notice
Sometimes even an airbag won't be enough

Sometimes even an airbag won’t be enough to prevent injury

Road traffic accidents in the USA get reported in local newspapers, which means they appear on the internet these days and I came across yet another one involving a GoldWing today.  They often involve a car driver failing to give way and colliding with a bike.

In this case an elderly lady car driver failed to stop (at a stop sign) at a junction with a main road, along which a GoldWing happened to be approaching from her right.  The car swerved left at the last minute as she saw the bike but it was too late; the vehicles collided, the bike went down and the biker and his passenger came off.  The bike ended up on a grassy bank but both rider and passenger were seriously injured and admitted to hospital.  Neither of them were wearing helmets.  The car driver was uninjured and has been charged with failing to stop at a stop sign.

No more details are reported so we don’t know about the nature of the injuries are or how the car driver came to miss the stop sign.  The primary cause of the collision was of course the car driver’s failure to stop and give way, but the degree of injury may have been down to the motorcyclists’ failure to wear helmets.  Coming off a bike at any significant speed, even if you fall directly on to a grassy bank, is going to impose potentially fatal injuries if your head strikes.

This accident occured in Florida, which is one of the few parts of the USA where motorcycling is likely to be still happening, thanks to the Polar Vortex and the extremely cold weather they are getting.  Even in Florida the tempratures are currently colder than in UK.  It might have been be dry and even sunny at the time of this accident but in temperatures around freezing you would imagine it too chilly to ride without some headgear – and if so why not a helmet?

I have ridden, off road and at speeds up to 15 or 20 mph across a camping field without a continues………

Personal injury claims for Wingers – Should I make a claim?
But what is the catch?

But what is the catch?

Once upon a time, in order to make a personal injury claim. you had to seek out and instruct a solicitor to act for you and this would involve  a commitment to pay his or her fees, win or lose, maybe even some payment up front.

Ordinary people really didn’t do this sort of thing unless they were supported by a trades union or an insurance company and it would probably be in life-changing circumstances, such as being put in a wheelchair.  Maybe not even then because you couldn’t sue the Crown; the Crown Immunity Act precluded it.

But in the last twenty years or so, really since solicitors were allowed to advertise for customers and to offer no-win-no-fee services, the situation has changed remarkably.  Personal injury claims following road traffic accidents (and medical negligence claims) are now commonplace and a new sort of injury, whiplash, has emerged as a common feature.

Whiplash is easy to claim, and difficult (or expensive in surveillance) to disprove, so modest amounts get paid out by insurers simply to get people to go away.  In addition to genuine claims, exaggerated and completely fraudulent personal injury claims are being made on a large scale and as a result of “crash for cash” claims there are post code areas where insurance risk ratings (and therefore premiums for motorists) have gone sky high if you live there.

We probably all know someone, maybe several people, who have made a personal injury claim and we might well know someone who has exaggerated a claim or in some other way guilded the lily to extract more from it than otherwise – i.e. to have been fraudulent.  Many of us don’t regard it as fraud these days to try to get everything you can from an accident if the opportunity to work the system arises.

There is of course a downside.  I met a woman of 23 who had a perfectly healthy neck but was in process of making her third opportunistic whiplash claim and wasn’t clever enough to realise that accumulating that sort of track record could have a downside for her future employment prospects or for the emigration medical examination she was undergoing.

The cost of inflated and exaggerated claims to motoring insurance companies is very high and these costs are, of course, being passed on to motorists, including to motorcyclists in the premiums we pay.  It’s big business for solicitors and for the many claims handling companies which have formed to exploit the opportunity – and all the people who operate on the periphery, from doctors doing medical reports to taxi drivers carrying the victims to and from the various assessments and meetings which the claim process requires.

And among this huge volume of claims are of course plenty of perfectly genuine ones; claims which aren’t being inflated or exaggerated – how do they fare in the current system?  Does justice prevail?  Are personal injury claims the no-lose option they appear to be these days?  Or is there a real personal downside to making personal injury claims, even genuine ones, such as marking yourself out to travel insurers and employers as a bad prospect? continues………

Dear Stuart – Old, mismatched and brand new Avon tyres

Date of Tyre Manufacture: Week 05 Year 08

Hi Stuart

Just reading your Article on Venom’s cross ply and radial on a GL1800 and have noticed that I have a 180/60/R16-74H on the rear and a 130/70/B18-69H on the front, I can only see Radial marked on the rear tyre, and as I have had all these handling problems I wondered if I too have a cross ply and radial mismatch, can you help.

Regards Richard

Hi Richard,

I’ve re-read the Article you refer to and it looks like you do have a radial rear and  cross ply front tyre on your bike – not illegal but certainly not recommended, according to what I got from the experts at the time I wrote it in August 2009.

These Venom tyres of yours will by now be quite a few years old, even if they still have some tread left.

The rubber of old tyres gets hard and unyielding, as I discovered when some Cobras on my spare wheels (which had been resting unused for two or three years after being worn out) were being removed.  The tyre mechanic remarked on it and it was obvious as I continues………

Winter Riding on a GoldWing – strictly for the head-bangers?

Some bikers tour in winter

Motorcycling is primarily a recreational means of transport in UK, although of course lots of people use bikes to get to and from work, including Wingers.  A couple of bikers I know preferred for many years to use their GoldWing to ride long distances in the course of self-employed work right through the winter.

During  summer the travelling would sometimes be a joy, although of course even during summer the practicalities and time pressures would often force them to be making predominantly motorway or dual carriageway journeys rather than using more attractive but much slower good riding routes.

These two guys travelled big distances throughout the year because they needed to go where the work was, sometimes moving between far-flung locations and sometimes staying away from home on their travels.  In winter this lifestyle was often very hard going and not a little risky.

And indeed both of these riders have since taken up different employment at least partly to escape from the burden of this travelling, one by becoming a minister of religion, possibly to give thanks for his survival through years of winter riding. continues………

Elderly Drivers – is my time coming?

We’ve probably all experienced the frustrations and obstruction to other road users which elderly drivers cause.  They drive unnecessarily slowly or they proceed with such elaborate and excessive caution through a hazard that they get us grinding our teeth and shouting to them to get on with it.  And of course lots of them wear flat caps, so that the sight of a cap on the driver of the car ahead becomes a harbinger or doom and delay.

How can anyone want to bumble along at only 50 mph on a busy motorway, oblivious or careless of the backing up of traffic behind them, as lorries queue to overtake them, holding up faster traffic for hundreds of yards back, as they are either funnelled into the single remaining lorry-free lane.  And all because some selfish or insensitive idiot wants to bumble along slowly in lane one at an indicated 55 mph or so, slightly less than the 56 mph (true speed) to which lorries are governed these days.

They are content to leave the lorry drivers to worry about overtaking them, oblivious to any difficulties a lorry might have with gradients when heavily loaded, which will make for see-sawing progress, almost making the overtake but then dropping back again, as the gradient steepens of the driver of the little car accelerates to maintain his speed up the slope.

Same with the Middle Lane Owners Club; they feel entitled to be lazy and stay in the same continues………

GoldWing versus Boeing – which is quicker off the mark?

The Pacific island of Nauru - with the runway showing at the bottom of the picture.

I came across an interesting Blog Article by a retired airline pilot who used to fly into a small pacific island, where the locals would race the departing aircraft using a road which was close and parallel to the runway.

One of the bikes was a GoldWing GL1500.

The Article is well written and interesting, especially to learn which was in the lead, bike or plane, as they got up to 80 mph.

I won’t spoil the story by telling you the answer but you can read the Article for yourself by Clicking Here.

By the way if you are ever offered a used GL1500 which has been imported from Nauru it would probably be wise to give it a miss.

Raising the Motorway Speed Limit to 80 mph – will it help motorcyclists?

Our Government has proposed that the speed limit on UK Motorways be increased to 80 miles per hour.  The speed limit on our motorways, as on all dual carriageways has been 70 mph for over forty years and there are differing views about the value and wisdom of an increase.

Unsurprisingly opinions vary on the desirability of this change and although biking organisations all seem to be welcoming the proposal, there are of course objectors, including the usual crop of blinkered obsessionalists.  There is an organisation called Brake for example which seems to think this is a selfish move by speedsters who want to put other people’s lives at dire risk which will cause “carnage” and that we should be doing everything we can to persuade people to get off the motorways and on to trains and buses.  Back to having a man carrying a red flag ahead of every motorised vehicle then.

The protagonists point out the economic gains to be had from shorter journey times will amount to as hundreds of millions of pounds, which strikes me as a bit fanciful, but they also point out that modern vehicles have vastly better brakes than 1960s vehicles and these out-perform the stopping distances in the Highway Code by a considerable margin, so the extra 10 mph, which in reality many drivers are already doing anyway, will not convey much extra risk.

People might claim to be experts but I’m not convinced there are any real experts on this subject and your opinion and mine might be just as good and valid as anyone else’s.  We, or rather our politicians on our behalf, will either have to take the risk of raising the motorway speed limit to see if it can be done without too much impact on road safety or not.  The idea that it will cause carnage on the motorways if we do this is clearly very silly.

And since the decision whether to increase the limit is a political one, all the other factors which influence political decisions come to bear too and the chances of this actually happening might be fairly low.  Our democratic system is such that the politicians who make the decision whether to proceed with this proposal will end up doing what they feel will give them the best prospect of being re-elected, especially if that is becoming uncertain.  Our best hope of what might be a perfectly reasonable attempt to strike a better balance between risk and benefit on our motorways could easily fall victim to the vagaries of the political calendar and other factors completely unrelated to the issue.

Speed is undeniably a factor in some accidents, so the possibility that increasing the motorway speed limit to 80 mph could lead to more motorway accidents and more deaths needs serious consideration.  We’ve had a 70 mph limit since 1964, so a very long time, so making a change could have an adverse effect – just as a reduction to 60 mph would be a disruptive change and that alone would probably adversely affect road safety for a while.  Adjusting the speed limit either way could lead to an increased number of rear end shunts.

If the economic gains are uncertain (if not fanciful) and the any change is likely to rock the boat and increase accidents at least for a while, the “ain’t broke, don’t mend it” argument has some attractions, as does the idea that the highly congested nature of our motorways (compared with European motorways) makes raising the upper limit too risky.  Will a limit of 80 mph work on the chronically congested M6, where average traffic speed are often much lower than 70 mph?  Will anyone gain from the legal opportunity to accelerate briefly, but only briefly, up to 80 mph?  Without much more extensive variable speed limit sections to calm things down when necessary, which have been successfully introduced on busiest sections of the M25 and the M42 not be much more effective in improving journey times?

But on the other hand in the special case of motorways which are, statistically speaking, the safest part of our road network, it can be argued that a higher overall speed limit, especially in combination with variable lower speed limits would be a safer way of doing things as well as well as improving traffic flow and allowing faster journeys.  And it probably would improve journey times significantly at less busy times and on less congested sections of the motorway system, so why not give it a try? continues………

Honda supporting the National Ride to Work Day

Honda Staff at their Slough HQ

Staff at Honda’s UK head office came out in force today to take part in a range of two-wheel activities, in support of the annual National Ride To Work Day.

More than fifty riders, many carrying a colleague as a pillion, rode their various Honda machines into the Company’s Head Office near Slough, where everyone gathered for a group photograph and ‘bikers’ breakfast’, joined by hundreds of non-rider colleagues from both the car and power equipment areas within the business as well.

Honda motorcycle models spanning over 30 years, from the Honda 400 Four Supersport from the late 1970s, to a GoldWing took part – highlighting Honda’s diverse range of scooters and motorcycles as well as their impressive longevity in engineering as well as appeal.  (This is based on a Honda Press Release – you’d never guess would you!)

Other staff took the opportunity to experience life on two wheels for the first time either by taking a continues………

Riding Tips – Beware Expectancy, in yourself and in others

Expectancy is the term which psychologists use to describe our tendency to see what we expect to see, rather than what’s actually there.   And likewise to fail to see something because we expect to see nothing.

You will probably have been fooled into missing the double “the” words in the sentence on the left because your don’t expect to encounter double occurrences of “the” when you are reading.  Of course placing the extra word at the line breaks also helps to mislead you.

The significance of Expectancy when you are riding your GoldWing is however not so much that you will be fooled into missing things, although you might, but that other road users will put you at risk because they fail to see you.

It’s well know of course that an important cause of fatalities among motorcyclists is car drivers pulling out of side roads in front of them because they haven’t really looked for a fast approaching motorcycle, they were looking only for the cars, buses or lorries which might hurt them in a collision.  They fail to see push bikes for the same reason and it’s also why the Sinclair C5 was doomed to commercial failure.

I had a near miss recently at a mini-roundabout because a driver didn’t expect to see anyone in his path and assumed his way through the roundabout was clear, even though he didn’t have a clear view. continues………

BMF launches a large scale “Driver Distraction” rider survey

Click on the image for an enlargement

In a new initiative, the British Motorcyclists Federation has launched an on line rider survey which is designed  to help motorcyclists tackle problem situations over which they may currently feel they have little or no control on our British roads.

The idea grew from an impromptu ‘What’s Bugging You?’ survey of visitors to the BMF’s stand at last year’s International Motorcycle Show from which four particular broad issues were identified as worthy of closer study.  They will be tackled one at a time over the next year.

The new project is called ‘Rider Active’ and the aim is, as well as gathering useful information, to analyse and use it develop techniques for handling these situations from which participants should benefit.  It’s not an instant analysis and feedback system of course, because the questions have to be posed to lots of riders and the answers then analysed before the constructive part of the project can start.  But in due course it should deliver new and very useful information and advice for safer riding and riders who participate in the survey should learn something from it in due course.

Launched in its on-line form today, the Rider Active Survey will also be carried in the BMF’s Motorcycle Rider Magazine when the next (and re-vamped) issue comes out later this month.

Chris Hodder, the BMF’s Government Relations Executive said: “This represents a new way of working for the BMF, empowering local riders and putting the resources of the BMF in their hands. In this way we will be addressing the issues that they really care about.”

A total of four important areas of concern were identified from the initial study for more detailed investigation, the first one of which is about road users who get distracted and therefore don’t notice motorcycles when they should.

In order to discover the ways in which the problems show themselves around the Country the detailed study will need to involve as many riders as possible so the more the merrier – including you if you live in UK.

As you will probably know, the BMF is the leading representative UK biking organisation – indeed that’s its main purpose – as well as providing important services for bike clubs.   Both the Federation of UK GoldWing Clubs and GWOCGB are affiliated to the BMF as a way of getting club insurance , so Members of all Federation Clubs and GWOCGB are automatically Associate Members of the BMF.

To take part in the on line survey, all you need to do is click here.

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