Safely Pass Other Vehicles

Your weekend ride has been fun. The weather is good and it’s dry, and the road out-of-town snakes around hills and through forest and rice fields. You’ve ridden this road many times, so you have a pretty good idea of where it goes, where sight distance is limited, and where it’s legal and possible to pass.

At the moment you’re being held up by a slow-moving big truck. Actually, the drive is doing almost the speed limit, but you’d like to get around before you reach a section with lots of twisters. You know there’s a straight ahead where it’s appropriate to pass, if there’s no oncoming traffic. So, as the road straightens out, you signal, take a quick glance in your mirrors, and roll on. But you instantly realize you had neglected to shift down, so the motorcycle accelerates sluggishly. You simply hold the throttle open and wait as the engine comes up in the power band.

Now, as you pull abreast of the truck, you realize there’s an oncoming car, and it’s approaching faster than you would have predicted. You quickly drop down a gear, accelerate, and manage to squeeze back in front of the truck. But it’s too close for comfort, and you’re annoyed at the oncoming driver going so fast.

Rather than being annoyed at the other driver, you should be annoyed at yourself for the sloppy pass. When you’re ready to pass, drop down into an appropriate gear, then signal, glance behind, scrutinize the situation ahead, and make a decision. If it’s appropriate to pass, accelerate quickly to limit the time you’re hanging out in the opposing lane. And when pulling back into your lane, leave some space ahead of the vehicle being passed to avoid confrontation.

If the road ahead is not clear, or if you only realize there’s opposing traffic after you’ve pulled out, abort the pass. Brake, signal, drop back and pull back in line. Remember, two opposing vehicles moving at speeds of 100 km/h are hurtling toward each other at a closing speed of 200 km/h.

You should also be suspicious of vehicles that are out of place, such as a dump truck in a residential area, or an 18-wheeler on a twisty back road. The driver may be looking for an address to make a delivery, or just looking for a place to make a U-turn. It shouldn’t be a surprise if the driver suddenly turns off into a driveway or onto a side road…

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