September 2008 crash

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CrazyLegs1424's picture
Joined: 2013-02-13 13:15
September 2008 crash

Well,  I spoke briefly about this in my introduction, but here is a larger run down of my incident.  I had been commuting the same road for over 3 years at this point, both in the my cage and on my bike.  Northern Cali is perfect for riding and May - early October you can ride almost everyday if you so desire.  This particular day, it was 96 degrees out with not one cloud in the sky.  That's hot when at a stand still, but great when riding along at highway speeds.

The stretch of highway I was riding was under construction, they were widening the roads and therefore it was down to just two lanes, one north and one south.  I am not an overly aggressive rider, so although it was slow, I never attempted to pass the slower traffic.  Passing one or two cars just doesn't seem worth the risk to me.  This part of the story becomes more important near the end.

At the end of this long stretch of highway, there is a traffic light.  This light is at the bottom of a small hill.  As always, I approach intersections a bit slower, so even though highway speed was 65, I approached at about 55.  As we came closer, I recognized the car moving into the Southbound left turn lane (I was headed North).  I continued to monitor the car which slowed almost to a stop, before it made an unexpected acceleration.  In this area, there are no blinking yellows or yields for your turn lanes.  You either have a green light or a red light.  When this car accelerated to make a u turn, I began to slow and cover the brakes, however I quickly figured out I would not be able to stop before the intersection.  I began to move to the right side of the road in order to clear the car, however the driver finally noticed me.  

The drivers recognition of me would have been great if they would have done 1 of 2 things.  1. If they would have just stopped, I would have been able to clear.  2. If they would have completed the u turn, I would have been able to clear.  Instead of one of those two things, they hit the panic button, which doesn't equal the brake.  They focused on me, allowed the car to continue moving and stopped turning into the u turn.  By doing so, their car traveled west to east across the road.  This took away my exit route.  I had not choice but to stick to my exit route, which I hoped I would clear, but that was not to be.  The front passenger side bumber of their car caught my crank case and sent me flying off the ride side of my bike.  

My head hit the ground first, then my right shoulder.  After that, I just tumbled through the dirt on the side of the road.  Again, I was lucky.  3 months prior to the accident, the area I was now tumbling through was not street level, it was a water drainage area that was about 4 feet lower than the street.  All the extra dirt was brought in as part of the highway work.  When I finally stopped, I was laying on my side looking at my dead motorcycle which was in the ditch about 20 feet from me.  I traveled farther than the bike did.  I knew that my shoulder, back, and ankle were beat up.

What saved me with the police report was the 2 cars ahead of me and the 3 cars behind me for miles before the intersection.  They all stopped and had the same story as I did regarding the car the ran the red light.  Some of them even commented to the police about me not darting in and out of traffic like they have seen others do.  It was an accident for sure, they didn't know the area, they were on their phone trying to get directions, and they just struggled to multi task all those events.  This is something most drivers would struggle with, but this is what we all see people doing everyday in their cars.

I ended up needing shoulder reconstruction, but the back was just scrapes and the ankle was just sprained.  I know I was lucky that day.  This event did not scare me of riding, although I did take a long break.  I took the break mainly because of two reasons.  1. I used the insurance money to buy a house and 2. My daughter was a bit scared of me being on a motorcycle at that time.  Before I bought another one, not only did I get permission from the boss (my wife), I also spoke to my kids about it.  If they were going to be scared evertime I left, it would not be worth it.  But, to my amazement they have been great about it.  My daughter is actually bugging me to pick up a jacket and helmet for her so she can go on rides with me.

I still believe to this day that my alertness to my surroundings helped me in this situation.  I may have gone down, but if I wasn't paying attention or didn't get that sense of alertness when they entered that turn lane, I may have just t-boned them and I believe the result would have been much difference.  Defensive driving is always a good skill to have, but defensive riding is a MUST.

I know this is a long story so I appreciate you reading it.