motorcycle safety

Situational Awareness and Safety

DF SafetyEnvironmental Hazards, Personal Safety Guide

I have been riding my motorcycle since May this year.  I was out as soon as the ice had gone away.  Made for some cold rides, but I absolutely love it! 

I just got my license last fall, so I am a relatively new rider, but I did a couple of things right.  I took the training course offered here in Edmonton by T&T which was excellent, and I would highly recommend it.  I also read David Hough’s book Proficient Motorcycling which I found to be an excellent primer and taught me aspects that would have taken years of riding to pick up on my own.  (Thank you to my old high school buddy, Franco, who made the book recommendation!)

In the time I have been riding, there have been a couple of close calls.  I have had people turn left directly in front of me and have also had someone try to pull into a lane I was occupying.  Were these scary events?  Did I have to pull off any crazy maneuvers to prevent an accident?  Well, actually no.  For the most part, this was due to situational awareness.

So, situational awareness, if I were to make up my own definition is awareness of what is going on around me at any given time.  This is a critical concept when it comes to safety on the motorcycle, worksite or even at home.  Having exceptional awareness allows you to anticipate issues, gives you time to think about what you are going to do and execute your solution.

Earlier this week, I was travelling east on 102 avenue in downtown Edmonton.  I noted a small SUV on my right ready to turn into my lane.  I also noted that there were parked cars that would obstruct the driver’s vision of me.  Knowing this, I took two actions, I made sure that I stayed on the left of my lane where I was most visible, and I prepared to stop if the driver pulled out.  The driver did indeed miss me and pulled out, I was able to decelerate quickly and smoothly because I had anticipated the situation and already had my hand on the brake.  No squealing tires, no last second maneuvers.  A great way to handle a dangerous situation is to anticipate it and not have it occur!

This same principle needs to accompany us on the job site.  Assess your work area!  What is happening today?  Oh look, there is a crane on site.  Where is it working?  Where is the load swinging?  What kind of load is being lifted?  Does it interfere with my path of travel or my work site?   If it does, it is very easy to plan accordingly.  Planning helps deescalate a potential emergency.

On the job especially, its easy to lose your situational awareness.  If you keep your head down shovelling gravel, it is easy to forget what is going on around you.  Take the time to look up periodically and see what has changed.  This is a good habit that will pay dividends!

If you’re looking for additional situational awareness education, we offer a wide range of online courses, including lessons covering awareness in the workplace.