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Thread: Incident report & small rant

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    Flirting With The Redline 1000 Posts! phendric's Avatar
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    Incident report & small rant

    Hey folks,

    Been a long time since I was active on these forums (almost a year-and-a-half, judging from my last post here); it's been impossible to do everything that I want to do, given the busy-ness of life. I am still riding - the Ninja's doing well, though I've not taken it on any long trips in a very long time. My last gas receipt shows an odometer reading of a little over 24,000 miles, which isn't bad for a 2-year-old bike.

    However, in the past weeks, I've seen firsthand the sad consequences that can come from riding, and it's made me stop to evaluate the risks of being on two wheels. Three weeks ago, last Friday, my brother-in-law, who rides a motorcycle as his primary form of transportation, was involved in a serious collision. It was late at night, it involved a bus making a left turn at a yellow light while he was going straight in the opposite direction, he was behind a car that decided to slow for the yellow light, he decided not to stop and changed lanes while accelerating a bit to get into the intersection legally, the bus driver didn't see him coming and we can only guess that, for whatever reason, he didn't expect the bus to start the left turn until he had passed. The consequence? He plowed headlong into the side of the bus while going about 40 mph. I saw a video of the collision a few days after it occurred, and it was clear that both vehicles were in the intersection before the light turned red. It was also clear that, less than a second before impact, my brother-in-law realized what was about to occur, tried to avoid it (don't know exactly how), and he and the bike went down, sliding along the road before making impact.

    He was lucky, he was so very lucky. He had gear on - helmet, gloves, jacket, don't know about boots. And he was really close to a sheriff's station. A deputy got there quickly, and found him not breathing and without a pulse. He administered CPR and was able to get both back again, and the ambulance that responded had him in route to the hospital within 5 minutes of arriving. I'm confident that both of those things saved his life (and others agree with me - we found out today that that deputy is going to receive a commendation for going above and beyond the call of duty). But he's not out of the woods yet. He's been in the same bed in the ICU for the last 3 weeks, and recovery has been very slow and very roller coaster like. We know his ribs are broken in multiple places, we know that his lungs and heart got bruised, we know that he has a fractured pelvis and scapula, and we know that several of the bony protrusions coming off his spinal bones were broken. We know that because of the gear, he doesn't have much road rash - just a few scrapes here and there is all, including a big bruise on his shoulder in the shape of the armor in his jacket. We also know that he's not moved his legs in 3 weeks...and we don't know why not. The medical team has wanted to take an MRI and more extensive CTs to get a closer look at his brain and spinal cord, but he's been so unstable in his respiratory state that they couldn't safely move him. So there are several unanswered questions, even three weeks into this ordeal. They had him pretty heavily sedated for the first two weeks, but as they've been slowly weaning him off the sedatives, he's been awake and alert at times, he's been responsive to commands, and we've had the opportunity to see his personality shine through all the equipment connected to him. However, his lungs are still healing, and so we're still waiting for the doctors to be able to get additional images and information. We don't know how much longer he'll be there, but I'm guessing we're talking several more weeks.

    Seeing my brother-in-law in this state, and seeing how much it's disrupted the lives of family members - his girlfriend (who's a respiratory therapist and has a young son) almost hasn't left his side, and he's had someone in the family there almost constantly for the last 3 weeks - it gives me pause to think about how my family would be impacted if the same thing happened to me. I'm married, I have several young kids...my brother-in-law has neither. Ironically, I've not been on a bike in a month myself - a neighbor of ours accidentally backed into it while it was parked on the street, breaking stuff off and scratching other stuff in the process. So it's been at a shop for insurance repairs for the past several weeks. This morning will be the first time in quite awhile that I have the opportunity to ride...and I'm finding that my excitement at being back on two wheels, at no longer having to take public transportation to get to work every day, is tempered by everything that's happened.

    Small rant - it's started really getting on my nerves when I mention to people that I ride a motorcycle, and they look at me with concern on their face. "Really? That surprises me. I don't worry about your skills, Phil, I'm sure that you ride safely, but I'm concerned about all the unaware drivers on the street. You never know what they're going to do." It's like they're using that as a way to spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) in an attempt to convince me I'm anything less than wise to be riding. On the other hand, I can see that at least some of their concern is well founded. While at the hospital, I've asked some of the medical staff to talk about the volume of motorcycle crash patients they get, and their estimates are that, on any given day, somewhere between 20%-40% of the beds are occupied by motorcycle crash victims. That number, by itself, is pretty astounding, but it's even more so when one realizes that motorcycles only constitute about 3% of registered vehicles in the US (source). Other statistics don't paint a rosier picture, either; from that same report, we read that motorcyclists are 26x more likely to be killed in a crash per vehicle mile traveled than passenger car occupants. That number comes down to 6x if you calculate it on a per-registered-vehicle basis...but still. I've not met a single nurse anywhere that approves of someone in their family riding a motorcycle, and I can see why not. They see a disproportionate number of motorcycle crash victims, and invariably, they get told that it was "the other guy's fault."

    Now, nobody likes to accept blame, and in the US, we seem to spend a lot of time, energy, and money pointing the finger of blame at others (laywers are already involved in my brother-in-law's case), so it doesn't surprise me that a biker laying on a bed in the ICU (or his family members) would tell everyone why it wasn't his fault. And, I know that other facts and statistics point to motorcyclists being a bit of a self-selecting group for accidents (almost 1/2 of incidents involve no more than one vehicle, alcohol is involved in relatively large percentage of collisions, etc.). And I know that most collisions occur because of a series of errors, rather than just one, which is the reasoning behind S.E.E.. I know that, if I ride defensively, knowing what's going on around me, anticipating what might happen the next few seconds, and always having an exit plan in case the situation goes south, I can avoid the vast majority of situations that might cause a collision because of cager error.

    So, because of the above, I'll get on the bike in a few minutes and ride to the office like usual (minus my month off). But having seen firsthand what a motorcycle crash can do to a person (and their family), I'm finding that there's a much larger damper on my enthusiasm than I would have anticipated.

    Comments, questions, advice, and recommendations are, of course, welcome.

    Phil
    Last edited by phendric; 05-11-2015 at 12:35 PM.
    Current bike: 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000

    Previous bikes: 2000 Honda VFR800, 2006 Kawasaki ZX-10R, 2001 Triumph Sprint ST, 2001 Suzuki GS500

  2. #2
    Wow.

    First, your human and contemplating yourself and your place in the universe is totally normal. You're totally normal.

    Second, it's amazing how quickly the cascade of events happen in these matters. I'm the sort that would change lanes, pick it up and try to make the light. A simple decision can have horrifying consequences. Simply staying in his lane and stopping would certainly have changed the world.

    Here's hoping for a complete recovery for all involved--the wounds are physical for him and emotional for those close by.
    Author of "Motorcycles, Life and..." & "The Elemental Motorcyclist"

    http://motorcycleslifeandeverything.wordpress.com

    www.howzitdonecrash.com

  3. #3
    Flirting With The Redline 10,000 Posts! Shadow Shack's Avatar
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    My condolences to your BIL.

    Quote Originally Posted by phendric View Post
    I saw a video of the collision

    he was behind a car that decided to slow for the yellow light, he decided not to stop and changed lanes while accelerating a bit to get into the intersection
    FWIW, this could serve to nullify a lawsuit. More so if the car he was once behind stopped while he proceeded.
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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by phendric View Post
    ...
    While at the hospital, I've asked some of the medical staff to talk about the volume of motorcycle crash patients they get, and their estimates are that, on any given day, somewhere between 20%-40% of the beds are occupied by motorcycle crash victims.
    ...

    Phil
    Flying a Medflight helicopter for 25 years I was in and out of hospitals ... a lot. And I got to see the spectrum of what goes into the hospital ... and that particular statistics you quote is vastly exaggerated ... vastly ... to the point of outrageousness. You, sir, have been lied to ...

    By far the most common flight was ... heart problems followed by pulmonary problems followed by strokes followed by car wrecks(wear a goddam seat belt when you are in a car..please) ...with or without alcohol/drug impairment. The first and best thing you can do if you want to live long and healthy is adopt the practice of moderation in your eating and exercise ... period.

    Yes riding a motorcycle is hazardous ... life is freaking hazardous. Become the best rider you can be ... don't drink a single drink and ride (I was part of a study of pilots who had 2 (two) drinks and flew a simulator ... the increase in errors was unreal ... and every dang one of them "thought" they were doing better...), don't ride when emotionally upset. Did I already say become the best rider you can be ...

    Be mindful that right or wrong you are very vulnerable and ride accordingly. Road rage ain't for riders. Right of way is always a question mark.

    Hospital staff see what in underwriting is called negative selection. They don't see all the riders here who have ridden for years and years and years and never been in an accident. They see the 20 something year old who will lose his leg after going down on a bike.

    I have a come back when a medical person tells me how dangerous motorcycles are ... and I will admit it is not nice. I just smile and reply "I understand far more people die each year due to mistakes made by medical professionals than die on motorcycles..."
    The best thing you can buy for your motorcycle is gas.

  5. #5
    Moderator/RiderCoach 10,000 Posts! Clair's Avatar
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    Hey now ... I've met Phil ... let's hold off on all that "you're normal" stuff ... I've met him after all ...
    Ride safe, ride smart, ride ATGATT because sweat dries faster than scars heal

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  6. #6
    Flirting With The Redline 1000 Posts! bikebitsmall's Avatar
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    Hope he makes a good recovery, I don't think we can ride without some fear it keeps us alive, myself ride a little slower and avoid very busy streets and extreme weather.. I almost did not insure my bike this season but life is short and I love riding.
    2004 Sportster sold
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  7. #7
    Flirting With The Redline 1000 Posts! bikebitsmall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OBX-RIDER View Post
    Flying a Medflight helicopter for 25 years I was in and out of hospitals ... a lot. And I got to see the spectrum of what goes into the hospital ... and that particular statistics you quote is vastly exaggerated ... vastly ... to the point of outrageousness. You, sir, have been lied to ...

    By far the most common flight was ... heart problems followed by pulmonary problems followed by strokes followed by car wrecks(wear a goddam seat belt when you are in a car..please) ...with or without alcohol/drug impairment. The first and best thing you can do if you want to live long and healthy is adopt the practice of moderation in your eating and exercise ... period.

    Yes riding a motorcycle is hazardous ... life is freaking hazardous. Become the best rider you can be ... don't drink a single drink and ride (I was part of a study of pilots who had 2 (two) drinks and flew a simulator ... the increase in errors was unreal ... and every dang one of them "thought" they were doing better...), don't ride when emotionally upset. Did I already say become the best rider you can be ...

    Be mindful that right or wrong you are very vulnerable and ride accordingly. Road rage ain't for riders. Right of way is always a question mark.

    Hospital staff see what in underwriting is called negative selection. They don't see all the riders here who have ridden for years and years and years and never been in an accident. They see the 20 something year old who will lose his leg after going down on a bike.

    I have a come back when a medical person tells me how dangerous motorcycles are ... and I will admit it is not nice. I just smile and reply "I understand far more people die each year due to mistakes made by medical professionals than die on motorcycles..."


    Good comeback, it's no surprise less people die when doctors go on strike.
    2004 Sportster sold
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  8. #8
    Flirting With The Redline 1000 Posts! phendric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCrash View Post
    [/snip]

    Second, it's amazing how quickly the cascade of events happen in these matters. I'm the sort that would change lanes, pick it up and try to make the light. A simple decision can have horrifying consequences. Simply staying in his lane and stopping would certainly have changed the world.

    Here's hoping for a complete recovery for all involved--the wounds are physical for him and emotional for those close by.
    I've ridden with my BIL several times, and what he did doesn't surprise me at all. What I can't figure out is how he didn't see the approaching bus, see how fast it was approaching the intersection, and not wonder if there might be a problem. We may never know - he has no memory of the crash.

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow Shack View Post
    FWIW, this could serve to nullify a lawsuit. More so if the car he was once behind stopped while he proceeded.
    Hey SS. How you been? Where do you get that last part? The portion of the CA VC that will be fought over is Section 21801:

    21801. (a) The driver of a vehicle intending to turn to the left or to complete a U-turn upon a highway, or to turn left into public or private property, or an alley, shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles approaching from the opposite direction which are close enough to constitute a hazard at any time during the turning movement, and shall continue to yield the right-of-way to the approaching vehicles until the left turn or U-turn can be made with reasonable safety.

    (b) A driver having yielded as prescribed in subdivision (a), and having given a signal when and as required by this code, may turn left or complete a U-turn, and the drivers of vehicles approaching the intersection or the entrance to the property or alley from the opposite direction shall yield the right-of-way to the turning vehicle.
    In CA, the two types of vehicle collisions that insurance companies almost automatically assign liability for are rear enders (the car following should have been paying attention) and left turns (driver should have waited until it was safe). In this case, the attorneys for the bus driver will try to prove that it was, indeed, safe for the bus to make the left turn, and that, once he had the right-of-way, the rider was at fault for not yielding. I'm sure they'll parade the driver's testimony that he didn't see my BIL...but I don't know how far that will get them...

    Quote Originally Posted by OBX-RIDER View Post
    Flying a Medflight helicopter for 25 years I was in and out of hospitals ... a lot. And I got to see the spectrum of what goes into the hospital ... and that particular statistics you quote is vastly exaggerated ... vastly ... to the point of outrageousness. You, sir, have been lied to ...

    By far the most common flight was ... heart problems followed by pulmonary problems followed by strokes followed by car wrecks(wear a goddam seat belt when you are in a car..please) ...with or without alcohol/drug impairment. The first and best thing you can do if you want to live long and healthy is adopt the practice of moderation in your eating and exercise ... period.

    Yes riding a motorcycle is hazardous ... life is freaking hazardous. Become the best rider you can be ... don't drink a single drink and ride (I was part of a study of pilots who had 2 (two) drinks and flew a simulator ... the increase in errors was unreal ... and every dang one of them "thought" they were doing better...), don't ride when emotionally upset. Did I already say become the best rider you can be ...

    Be mindful that right or wrong you are very vulnerable and ride accordingly. Road rage ain't for riders. Right of way is always a question mark.

    Hospital staff see what in underwriting is called negative selection. They don't see all the riders here who have ridden for years and years and years and never been in an accident. They see the 20 something year old who will lose his leg after going down on a bike.

    I have a come back when a medical person tells me how dangerous motorcycles are ... and I will admit it is not nice. I just smile and reply "I understand far more people die each year due to mistakes made by medical professionals than die on motorcycles..."
    Interesting that you're so confident I've been lied to. I'm not disputing that, though I'll point out that I talked with multiple members of the medical team on different occasions, and they all came up with somewhat similar numbers. Could you have only seen an unrepresentative subset of patients due to only a certain subset needing to be flown? Could the fact that my BIL is in a surgical ICU at a regional trauma center be causing some sort of bias? Or do you really think that the medical staff have some agenda they're trying to push?

    Could you give me a percentage of motorcycle accident victims you saw? If 20%-40% is way high, what's more realistic?

    Also, your come back is interesting. Just how many people actually die each year due to medical mistakes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Clair View Post
    Hey now ... I've met Phil ... let's hold off on all that "you're normal" stuff ... I've met him after all ...
    Aww, Clair. Thanks for the warm welcome back...
    Current bike: 2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000

    Previous bikes: 2000 Honda VFR800, 2006 Kawasaki ZX-10R, 2001 Triumph Sprint ST, 2001 Suzuki GS500

  9. #9
    Flirting With The Redline 1000 Posts! liberpolly's Avatar
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    According to NHTSA, there were 93000 motorcycle injuries in 2012.

    Number of emergency department visits for unintentional injuries: 43.0 million

    Motorcycles are not even a rounding error in overall statistics.
    "The better you're prepared, the luckier you get".

  10. #10
    Flirting With The Redline 1000 Posts! liberpolly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phendric View Post
    Also, your come back is interesting. Just how many people actually die each year due to medical mistakes?
    440000 in hospitals alone.
    "The better you're prepared, the luckier you get".

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