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Old 03-30-2015, 09:15 AM   #1
High Country Herb OP
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Close Call on Highway 49

I almost got creamed by an inattentive cage driver yesterday, and I think I contributed to it. Help me (and maybe you) avoid repeating this incident in the future.

The Story: My wife was leading as we headed north on Highway 49 between Sonora and Angels Camp. There was a car some distance behind me.

As we came over a rise, there was an oncoming motorcycle waiting to turn left (across out path) into a driveway. This was a narrow section of road, so my wife and I both slowed from about 50 mph down to about 35 as a precaution, not knowing if the motorcyclist was going to make the turn ahead of us. He didn't, but as we followed the rider's glances we noticed he was watching a frightened dog in the ditch on our side of the road. We slowed even further at this point (to about 20 mph), as it looked like the dog may panic and run in front of us.

At this point, I heard screeching tires behind me. In my mirror, I saw the car with all 4 tires locked, smoke rolling off all of them. I laid on the throttle hard to try to get out of the way, and managed to keep about 10-15 feet ahead of the skidding car. (as a side note: we turned around and went back to see if the other motorcyclist needed help corralling the dog out of the road, but it had already run back to its yard)

So now I would like to evaluate the incident to learn from it.

1. I think I may have used downshifting instead of braking, so I may not have provided brake lights to warn the cage driver behind me.
2. I didn't keep an eye on the approaching car in my mirrors, since I was too focused ahead.

Anything else I could have done?
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:18 AM   #2
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P.S. The other motorcyclist had heavy duty panniers on his sport touring bike, so may be an inmate here. If that's you, I would like to hear how it looked from your point of view.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:28 AM   #3
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If you're going to slow to 20 mph on a major highway, put your blinker on and exit the roadway. I've spotted animals that I didn't want to hit and just pulled over so I wasn't part of the problem on 108, it's really easy to just stop and get out of the way.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:43 AM   #4
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At the time, we didn't plan to stop, so we just wanted to get through the bottle neck. Even at 20 mph, we were still going too fast to pull into the gravel driveway. About 100 yards down the road, my wife and I were discussing going back to help (we have wireless comms), and looking for a safe place to pull over.

Although it is a state highway, normal car traffic would be flowing about 30 mph due to the sharp corners combined with dips and hills. The car behind me was probably pushing it trying to keep up with my wife and I at 50 mph.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:45 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by High Country Herb View Post
IWe slowed even further at this point (to about 20 mph),
This isn't a case of who's right and who's wrong..... it's a case of who's left.
Things traveling 20 mph on highways are usually green or red and are manufactured companies by John Deere, Case or New Holland (and usually have slow moving vehicle signs on the back).
Pull over onto the shoulder if you slow down like that. If there's no shoulder get onto the outside of the white line.
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:56 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by High Country Herb View Post
At the time, we didn't plan to stop, so we just wanted to get through the bottle neck.

So, what you want to hear is that you did everything right and that car was crazy?
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:57 AM   #7
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OK, so that's 2 riders saying pull over if conditions warrant speeds lower than 20 mph. That seems odd to me, due to the layout of the road, but I did ask for advice.

Here is a photo of a similar stretch of road, so maybe we can use it for discussion:



In the distance near the red tree, you can see a gravel driveway. I am coming towards the camera, and going too fast to turn into the gravel driveway. If I had slowed enough to enter the driveway, the car would have definitely hit me. The dog would be in that narrow ditch.

So it sounds like the alternative is to avoid slowing down, and just carry speed through the bottle neck hoping that neither the motorcycle or the dog make a sudden move?
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Old 03-30-2015, 09:59 AM   #8
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So, what you want to hear is that you did everything right and that car was crazy?
No, and I don't want to dismiss your suggestions either. I've seen lots of people do that on these type of threads, and think it prevents me from learning anything.

Do you really pull over every time traffic slows below 20 mph?
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:13 AM   #9
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When I have a car behind me, I make a conscious effort to flash my brake lights a couple of times before braking.......they may or may not see it, but at least I did what I could to make myself more visible. Of course there are times where this isn't an option (ie.....when you need to brake NOW).
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:21 AM   #10
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Going over a rise, on the way up and over, I stick my left foot out. Signals to my buds that I can't see jack on the other side and am slowing down like a hazard in the road. I forget what the real signal is, but this works for now. Flashing the brake light isn't a bad idea either as noted above.

If the car behind me has no idea what I'm signaling, at least they're like "WTF is this idiot doing?" and I have their attention.

Always drag the brake when down shifting to slow down. Gives you a chance to practice smoothly bliping the throttle on downshifts as well. Give the car behind as much brake light as you can.
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:21 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by High Country Herb View Post

Do you really pull over every time traffic slows below 20 mph?

Did I say that?
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:27 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by High Country Herb View Post
So it sounds like the alternative is to avoid slowing down, and just carry speed through the bottle neck hoping that neither the motorcycle or the dog make a sudden move?

Try this...I'm driving my car in a spirited fashion on 49, I come over a small rise doing about 50, there is a motorcycle in the oncoming lane waiting to turn left, two motorcycles that were pulling away from me are now puttering along smelling the roses, it's California and I'm at fault if I hit these two back markers, I never see a dog, locking up all four I shit my pants and now hate motorcycles on 49 more than I did before...why couldn't those goobers have just pulled over and let me go I mumble...
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:30 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by larryboy View Post
So, what you want to hear is that you did everything right and that car was crazy?
Really?!

***

'herb- this is one reason I'd like 4 ways on my motos; your brake lights may have increased your visibility in this situation.

What is the posted speed limit?

While I can understand the sentiment that one should pull off the road if traveling below the limit, the scenario you've described took place in, what, yards vs miles.

If I replace the moto which may have been turning left with a vehicle which actually was turning left, and swap out a deer or other wildlife for the dog, I am not exactly clear how the solution is for you to pull off the road.

It sounds/seems like you came upon a situation in progress which was made more complicated by the situation following you- notably, the m/c was waiting on the dog & traffic to complete his turn while the motorists behind was traveling to quickly and/or not paying attention.

Generally speaking, and as has been mentioned, unless it is an emergency situation:

check your six

flash your brake lights


What would you have done had you been driving vs riding?
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:34 AM   #14
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What is the posted speed limit?

55

and yellow corner suggested speed signs aren't a speed limit during fair weather and daylight hours. If you're going to slow to 20 mph in a 55 just pull over, I have and am alive, plus nobody had to flat spot four tires to avoid killing me.
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Old 03-30-2015, 10:39 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by CSI View Post
When I have a car behind me, I make a conscious effort to flash my brake lights a couple of times before braking.......they may or may not see it, but at least I did what I could to make myself more visible. Of course there are times where this isn't an option (ie.....when you need to brake NOW).
I do the same thing.
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