See and be seen hopefully gets us all thinking about the journey and how we, as bikers, can help ourselves. Especially now with the shorter days and darker nights, its even more important to “See and be Seen”.

Reading statistics, which change frequently but the below is general gist, for causes of road incidents involving motorcyclists that are either seriously injured or killed on the road, tells me the majority occur at junctions with vehicles turning right. Either vehicles pulling out into oncoming motorcycles; or motorcycles turning right into a side road.  Sunday by the way, is the busiest day for incidents.

In order:

  1. Junctions – 64%
  2. Loss of control – 20%
  3. Overtakes – 15%
  4. Speed – 9.2%
  5. Bends – 9%

Adding the percentages comes to over 100%, which means several contributing factors eg speed and junctions are working together. Let us not dwell on this. Issue is clear, most incidents occur at junctions.

Based on research by RoSPA, SorryMate, DofT and others, emerging vehicles simply didn’t see the rider. It is a case of SMIDSY! Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You. With the obvious lack of public service announcements, a could not care attitude of successive governments along with a general lack of ongoing and basic driver education, it is down to us bikers to be proactive to look after ourselves.  

How can we make ourselves safer? It is not simple; there is no guaranteed fool proof fix and I’m not talking hi-viz either. There is a saying we use when teaching Advanced Riding, “See and be Seen”.

You may have heard this before and no doubt now thinking “not the safety brigade again?” Well yes, and no. This is part of something we teach on advanced riding courses, but I’m not spouting on about safety.

At the heart of advanced riding is a system, IPSGA which has been mentioned several times in past blogs. IPSGA is an acronym just like in every other walk of life.

I = Information, P = Position, S = Speed, G = Gear and A = Acceleration.

I am not discussing IPSGA here. Instead, I want to introduce an apophthegm  “See and be Seen”.  Is this a new approach perhaps? A new way of thinking? No, not really.

See and be Seen” is how I like to start coaching riders in the dark arts of Advanced Riding. Along with SSV – Safety, Stability and View, but we’ll come to SSV next time. They both form part of the Information phase of IPSGA.

We’ve all heard and no doubt the majority of riders have experienced vehicles pulling out of junctions without seeing the bike.  Not the rider’s fault, but then so what? The biker is seriously hurt, maybe worse. What’s the point in it not being your fault if you can’t ride again?

This puts the emphasis is back on us as riders to look out for ourselves. Next time you approach a junction ask yourself, “Where is the best place to be positioned to See other vehicles at the junction or vehicles coming towards me? And, where is the best place for me to Be Seen?”   The image below stolen from the Highway Code helps illustrate the point:

Dividing our lane into three, with position 1 being the left hand wheel rut, position 2 being the centre of our lane or sump line, and position 3 being the right hand wheel rut, think about where you would get the best view of traffic emerging from a junction; and likewise, where do you think the emerging vehicle would get the best view of you as you approach? Position 1, 2 or 3?

From the diagram, it’s not Position 1! Look at the field of view the emerging car has. Just to compound the issue, the emerging car’s view is also blocked by the car in front of the bike. Think about Position 3 – this gives you the best view and gives the emerging driver the best chance of seeing you too. With oncoming traffic, position 3 puts you on offer to danger so, in that case, move in towards to somewhere between position 2 and 3. Maybe even ease off the throttle a little.

To be honest when driving my car, I must admit to almost pulling out in front of a biker who was in position 1. I simply did not see him. Scared the life out of me, and him too, probably.  Luckily, I managed to stop in time. My fault entirely though, but he could have helped himself.  And this is the point I’m trying to make here.

The diagram below shows the effect, albeit with a sign in the way, but you can see the intent.

We all make mistakes and I made one, luckily no serious incident occurred. How could the rider have helped himself though? I’m not even going anywhere near hi-viz as that wouldn’t have helped at all as I couldn’t see him and hi-viz only starts a heated debate. And I know how much we all enjoy a mass debate! The rider’s road position would have helped considerably.

Think about it when you next approach a junction either passing one or emerging from one. If you drive too, think about where is the earliest point you would see a motorbike – scary isn’t it? What if as a rider you introduced a slight weave on the approach? That would help, but only when safe to do so.

The whole point of this is to take back control of the roads; as riders we must look out for ourselves. Simple little sayings as “See and be Seen” can really help.

Safe riding everyone!