Wednesday, December 28, 2011

5 Pet Peeve bad driving habits

Geoff James a fellow motoblogger asked us to post our 5 pet peeve bad driving habits.  His blog: Confessions of an Ageing Motorcyclist;   Geoff is in the process of going for his IAM certification, which means he goes on observed rides and is graded on his moto performance capabilities and skills.  When he has completed this he will be the one observing & critiquing aspiring riders.

I modified his challenge a little because it was geared to car drivers and I happen to think there are a lot of bad motorcyclists and scooterists out there too who drive poorly.  So I will start with 5 bad car driver habits that make me particularly crazy when I am out on the road.  I primarily ride in city traffic and haven't ridden my motorcycle in a lot of highway traffic, so most of my peeves are geared to in-city.

Car Drivers

1)  Driver Distraction -  This has to be the #1 thing I notice when riding my motorcycle.  My biggest and most scary pet peeve is when I see people talking on their cell phones or texting while driving.  I have had drivers swerve into my lane because they just had to take the phone call.  I do let them know that I find this unacceptable and dangerous.  In the Province of British Columbia it is illegal to use handheld devices while driving.

2)  Driver's not paying attention at lights, particularly when making turns or when they run lights.  I always give myself a few seconds before advancing into an intersection because you just never know who is going to blow through and take you out because they are in a hurry or distracted by something in their car.

3)  Driver's not shoulder checking before making lane changes.  It is amazing what or who might be in a cars blind spot.  This is a basic driving skill and it is amazing how many people lose this skill when driving.  It is either just plain lazy or plain stupid on their part.  It only takes a second to shoulder check.

4)  Driver's not giving motorcyclists or scooterists space when stopped at a light or stop sign.  Do you really have to get that close to the back end of my bike?  I always keep a good space margin in front of me just incase I need an exit strategy because some doofus behind me gets rear-ended and pushed forward into me.  I am constantly scanning all areas around me for hazards and planning an escape route.  You need more than just plan A, you need plan A, B, & C when you are out in traffic.

5)  Driver's who  have forgotten the basic rules of the road, i.e. right of way at stop signs and what different road markings mean.  To every Victoria driver car, motorcycle, scooter, the solid white line on a roadway means that you can not lane change there.  Please for the love of Pete learn your road markings.

Motorcycles and Scooters

1)  Rider's who do not practice ATGATT.  I do not understand a rider's philosophy of not wearing gear when riding a motorcycle or a scooter.  This is particularly prevalent in scooterists, I get that they are the "urban" commuter and scooters were designed with the purpose of wearing street clothes, et cetera, but street clothes are not designed to protect you and keep your bones together.  When scooters first came out in the 50's there weren't the traffic volume issues and high speeds that we have today.  It does not take much to lose the surface of your skin when you are sliding down pavement in your civvies. Same goes for folks who choose to ride without gear on their motorcycles.  Luckily in BC helmets are mandatory.

So my question to you is if you don't wear gear, "Do you know how much it hurts to hit pavement? Have you seen what happens to your skin when it gets burned off by road rash?  Do you know how important armor is in protecting your hips, knees, back, shoulders and elbows?  Usually when you smack the pavement chances are one of the above is going to take the impact first.  What about good motorcycle gloves and boots how they protect your hands & feet?"  I have made the choice to ride ATGATT, even in hot summer temperatures, I would rather sweat than bleed.

2)  Motorcyclists and scooterists that don't take a motorcycle safety course.  These courses are valuable in giving you the techniques to save your life and know how to drive correctly and safely.  If you have been riding for a long time and haven't taken a course, most schools offer experienced rider courses which solidify what you are doing right and correct what you are doing wrong.  These courses build on your current skills and expand your skill set and knowledge base.  IMHO our roads are dangerous enough and you are making constant split second decisions that could have life long ramifications, at least with a good solid skills you will be able to make those decisions in any given road situation.

3)  Motorcyclists who drive recklessly, speed and tailgate.  YOU GIVE THE REST OF US WHO PRACTICE GOOD DRIVING SKILLS A BAD NAME.

4)  Motorcyclists/scooterists who do not make their intentions clear.  You have to be clear of what you are doing when you are around cars.  Turn your signal off after completing a turn,  don't leave it going for a block, it confuses all drivers.  Cars are bigger, meaner and less forgiving, usually you don't come out of a collision well.

5A)  Lane position.  This drives me nuts when someone is not in the correct lane position.  This is all basic stuff which is right in the manual.  Why would you not ride in the best lane position?  It is important in traffic so no one is confused and everyone SEEs you.  Riders need to take the theory of 'Ride like you are invisible to heart' and part of this theory is about lane positioning.

5 B)  Motorcyclists/Scooterists who do not shoulder check.  This is one of the biggest things they drill into a novice rider, when you stop you shoulder check, before you move you shoulder check, before you turn  you shoulder check.  CHECK, CHECK, CHECK AND CHECK!!!!  This one single act does save lives, you never know who is going to be in your blindspot or if you are in theirs.

(So I cheated a little on the number of peeves.)


Geoff James said...

That's a superb bit of thinking Dar, drawing both sides of the equation together in one post.

Most contributors have similar peeves with respect to cars so I won't specifically comment on that. What I will say though is your comment about motorcyclists not periodically upskilling is right on the money. You mentioned the course I'm taking but in all honesty, it was only basically because author David Hough pressed my buttons and asked me what I was doing to raise my game. Nothing quite like a poacher turned gamekeeper, haha!

I genuinely believe it's been a life-saver and wish I'd started years ago.

Well done on such a great post!

Shybiker said...

Good post. Smart points.

The biggest problem I see in the U.S. is that most drivers don't seem to understand they should keep to the right lanes if they're going slower than other cars. Too many motorists pull into the left lane and sit there while holding up traffic, which is forced to make dangerous and sometimes unpredictable passes on the right. In Europe, I hear, motorists understand this and don't do it.

Trobairitz said...

Great points Dar.

I think I'd have to agree with you on them all.

RichardM said...

So, tell us how do you really feel?

Can't say I disagree with any of them. A couple of weeks ago in OR while riding the shuttle back to PDX, we passed a tractor with triple trailers on I 5 with the driver thumb typing on his phone. He was wandering all over the road. I don't think his driving would have been worse if he was drunk.

Dar said...

Geoff - this is a good challenge, it gets you thinking about what you need to do to be a good safe rider. Police are starting to crack down on bad drivers which is great.

shybiker - optimum lane positioning saves a rider grief, it gives you command of your space.

Trobairitz - as motorcyclists we see everything, you are intimately involved in the driving environment, more so than a car driver, if only they had to worry about a smidgen of what we worry about when riding they might be better drivers.

Richard - I definitely am passionate about safety, it's funny I have always been this way since starting to drive my car when I was a teenager. When I became a motorcyclist it only intensified because you know what's at stake. I think the general population needs to have higher driving standards and the roads would be safer.

SonjaM said...

Agree with all of the above.

It never ceases to amaze me that rider/driver safety courses are voluntarily. It is a life saver and should be mandatory for everybody. Before they can even hit the road!

Dar said...

Sonja - totally agree with you. I think ICBC should give incentives for taking the course. I also think that you should have to have a motorcycle license even for 50cc scooters.

Unknown said...


during this holiday season I find it hard to tax my brain for all these valid points you wrote about. I see stupid things every day and my mind is so frazzled trying to remember all of them. Speaking of skooters you should see all those old folks riding around on those electric mobility scooters. They are so quiet and go too fast in the malls and on the sidewalks

A week ago I was in the right lane on a two lane road waiting for the RED light, and there was a car in front of me. I was the second car (at the signal light). An old jeep cherokee comes behind me very fast, I mean , can't he see that our two cars are stopped, waiting for the green light. Then the car swung over to the left lane, which was clear -- went around us and turned right on the red light and never reduced their speed at all. Over here in the BIG CITY everyone is in a rush, always slaloming and weaving in and out just to get one car ahead at the next light.
There is a lot of scorn over here towards 49cc scooters by the motorcycle community due to their lack of training and the stupid things they do on the road, bad lane positioning and weaving in and out, and lane splitting . . .

sometimes I just get so mad these these fools are giving us a bad name . . .

Happy New Year to "Scarlett Vixen"

Riding the Wet Coast

Dar said...


I too feel my brain gets taxed this time of year. It actually took me a few days to think about the things that tick me off when I am out on the road on Vixen or Lucy.

That fellow in the Cherokee sounds like it was an incredibly dangerous move with a whole lot of stupidity mixed in. It is at times like this that I wish I had a dash mounted camera so you could catch em on tape and report them.

I may have a holier than thou attitude when it comes to scootering because being honest I was a class 5 (car license) driving scooterist. But in my own defense I was reading everything I could a about motorcycling and Motorcycle Man would not let me out on the road until he was satisfied that I could handle the scooter by manoeuvring, emergency stops and quick acceleration. He was like a drill sargeant - only he didn't yell and he was braver because he would play the unexpected pedestrian and walk out randomly in front of the scooter to make me swerve. Brave man if you ask me, but I bet if you ask him today he wouldn't walk out in front of Lucy or Scarlett!

I hate it when scooters or motorcyclists drive erratically because you are right it gives the rest of us a bad reputation. Most people are suspicious of bikers to begin with so sometimes its hard overcoming preconceived ideas.

Happy New Year to you and Mrs Skoot!

XO Dar

Anonymous said...

the gear thing...we noticed on our trip cross country in 2010 that so many states and riders do not wear helmets and of course are practically naked while riding. Freedom to choose I suppose...but we choose gear...the best gear we can afford and of course helmets. Crazy riders out only takes once and did you know most riders die from infections due to road rash? Great post!