Twin headlights

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Sparrowhawk, Jul 12, 2014.

  1. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

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    Today I scared the shit out of a couple of Harley riders and, to a lesser extent, the passengers I'm the car I was driving.

    I'm heading south on WY 26 into Cody and got behind a short line of cars going slow behind it truck. It's a straight, rolling stretch with good visibility.

    The pavement is shimmering and there are a couple of cars coming from the distance but there's plenty of room. I jump into the passing lane and get passed a couple of cars when my wife starts urgently encouraging me to "WATCH OUT!". It turns out the two cars in the distance were actually a couple of Harleys with the side by side round headlights significantly closer. The cars in the line I was passing were tailgating each other making it hard to get back into my lane.

    Hard on the brakes, push my way back into the line of cars, the two bikes go past, and all is good. I was really surprised to be fooled by the illusion.

    I wasn't goofing off. I was paying attention and being careful. I had plenty of room to pass safely before the two"cars" were coming. In the light and conditions the two headlights in the fairing close together looked exactly like automotive headlights in the distance.
    #1
  2. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b

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    The brain matches complex visual input to past patterns to create a mental model that is simple enough to work with. Trying to understand all the textures of our visual input would just bog our brains down with too much detail.

    In other words we see what we expect to see.

    I am a strong believer in looking twice to see if I saw what I thought I saw. It's not a guarantee that I won't do what you did. I also like the triangle of light on one of my bikes -- it won't ever look like one headlight of a pair.
    #2
  3. scootrboi

    scootrboi Long timer

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    The hardest part is making sure there is nothing there.
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  4. No False Enthusiasm

    No False Enthusiasm a quiet adventurer

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    I've experienced a similar phenomenon when passing a car on a lonely two-lane road here in Texas at just about sundown. I was headed into a setting sun and noticed approaching headlights, far ahead.

    I pulled out to pass, then floored it when I realized that the approaching headlights belonged to an older Jeep, one with the narrow lights, mounted well inside the fender wells. It appeared to be much further off that it was...

    Scared the bejezuz out of me...

    NFE
    #4
  5. anotherguy

    anotherguy unsympathetic

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    If you were paying attention your wife wouldn't have said a word. Seeing is different than looking. See dammit.
    #5
  6. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

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    Bull
    #6
  7. Human Ills

    Human Ills Useful Idiom

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    Visual acuity is important when operating a large piece of equipment at any speed
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  8. SgtDuster

    SgtDuster Long timer

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    OK...so how do you explain that your wife (a passenger, so not supposed to be that dedicated to the task of driving, don't you think?) saw it before you? Does she have superwoman eyes and all?

    I know it can happen to anybody, but your brain clearly wasn't up to the task and this shit can be dangerous. Pay attention, you're supposed to understand the risks as a rider.
    #8
  9. catweasel67

    catweasel67 RD04

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    So what's your take-away from this?

    What, if anything, are you gonna do differently from now on?
    #9
  10. anotherguy

    anotherguy unsympathetic

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    Sure. You keep driving like that.
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  11. Human Ills

    Human Ills Useful Idiom

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    Tell people not to ride twin headlight bikes?
    #11
  12. catweasel67

    catweasel67 RD04

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    So I can't ride my AT any more? That sucks! :evil
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  13. PlainClothesHippy

    PlainClothesHippy Lookin' for fun & feelin' groovy.

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    Definitely the questions to ponder in this situation. The OP knows what happened and has a good idea of why it happened. To pull value from what happened is dependent on what to learn from that information and how to apply it to future situations.
    #13
  14. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

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    Simple, really. Given the light, road conditions, etc. my wife saw a saxophone player and I saw a woman's face.

    [​IMG]
    #14
  15. Philip Kuntz

    Philip Kuntz Fleasy Rider

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    The Saturn has lights closer together than normal too, this could make it appear farther away. Be more careful passing, don't be in a hurry. You will live longer.

    Its very difficult to judge speed when you are moving quite fast as well. If all you can see are lights and road shimmer, I would think its impossible to judge. If those bikes happened to be moving at 100+mph, it could have been very bad.

    Recently, I was passing on the right in a 4 lane, 65mph divided hwy. Car in the left lane, doing just under the limit. I was on the bike, with a passenger. Checked mirrors, head checked and saw a car, maybe 10 car lengths back in the right lane. I down shifted and came over, checking my mirrors again as I killed the signal. The Crown Vic was coming fast, nearly on us. I pinned it and darted in front of the car I was passing, barely missing it. The retired police cruiser shot past in the right lane. Without the triple check, and downshift, we would likely have been splattered. Look twice and check again, live another day. :deal
    #15
  16. Kommando

    Kommando Long timer

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    I was once getting ready to pull a right out of an Autozone one evening, onto a street that had poor lighting. It was a dark night and there was a bit of traffic. I saw an opening, and started feeding in throttle while easing out the clutch, when I thought something didn't seem quite right. I pulled in the clutch and mashed the brake pedal just before my front wheel went out into the street. Some asshole came flying past in a matte-black riced Civic with no fucking lights on. :eek1

    Where's a cop when you need one? They're probably too busy somewhere else, pulling over speeders for going 10 over...milking the cash cow.

    I try to check everything twice now, especially when visibility is poor.
    #16
  17. DesertTortoise

    DesertTortoise Freedom Fighter

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    I don't run over women or saxophone players. Light and road conditions don't change in the 30 inches between driver passenger. The difference is the inches between the ears. You were looking for a chance to pass, she was probably looking not to crash.



    When you try to pass multiple cars, you remove your margin of error and these things happen. I thought you posted this as a warning... Why try to justify a mistake? Anybody who drives those roads has been on the other end of the same situation.
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  18. Sparrowhawk

    Sparrowhawk Long timer

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    Some truth here and some ignorance.

    Truth: passing multiple cars reduces your margin of error. After looking to see what was coming (two cars, one following the other), judged the distance (sufficiently far away to safely pass), and was in the passing lane my attention was split between oncoming traffic and the vehicles I was passing, watching for one of them to make a pass without seeing me. Also, once we were in the left lane I'm sure my wife's attention was fully on the oncoming traffic.

    Ignorance: since you weren't there you don't know what I saw. The two bikes were black Harley FLSCHXWTF baggers with the riders all in black. Against the black hot summer shimmering asphalt the bikes were invisible. All I could see were the two headlights each. No trees, hills, buildings, or anything else around to provide distance perspective.

    I expect that if either motorcycle or rider had had any contrasting colors, or if either had anything other than just the two closely spaced headlights I would have seen them for what they were.

    I was being careful. I had the woman I love and two good friends with me but I made a mistake. I mis-perceived the visual cues in front of me and caused some unwelcome excitement for a bunch of people.
    #18
  19. LudemJo

    LudemJo Iron Butt Dreamer

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    I think it is safe to say that we all have made mistakes when driving our cars and riding our bikes. I think the OP is trying to give us another example of some of the stuff that can happen. There is no doubt that he made a mistake, and it ended well this time, but it could have been horrible. Even motorcycle riders in cages can make mistakes sometimes that we all bitch about on here.

    Thanks OP for bringing this up, if it helps just one person take a second look and avoid an accident it will be worth it.

    John
    #19
  20. DesertTortoise

    DesertTortoise Freedom Fighter

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    I see what you are saying. It's a good point about how a rider can appear to others on the road.
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