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Discussion Starter #1
Not My Fault?

On October 13th many years ago I had my first ambulance ride. I always remember the date because it was Friday the 13th.
I was riding home and it was dark and raining. I had been on the freeway but it was getting to be hard to see so I got off thinking the side roads would be safer.
At the very first intersection a car turned left in front of me. I veered right but hit the front of the car; I was thrown into the air and landed on my back on the other side of the car.
They did a (my first and hopefully last) chalk outline of me and loaded me into the ambulance. The police came over and said “don’t worry, there were a lot of witnesses, it’s not your fault”.
When I told others about the accident I always got the same comment “wasn’t your fault”.

Not our fault always seems to make us feel better but I’m still riding in an ambulance. Not my fault bothered me, I had crashed before but it was always my fault. Usually involved speed.
I wasn’t hurt bad, black and blue from my heels to my shoulder bones, and few cuts and puncture wounds but no broken bones. I walked very slowly for a while.
I rebuilt the bike that winter; it needed a new frame, swing arm, engine cases, gas tank and new paint.

I rode the bike that next summer but was very nervous about it. I was slowing down at green lights and seemed to be afraid of everything. I wasn’t enjoying riding and sold the bike the next October. I bought a Jeep Wrangler with air bags and a roll bar!

I had replayed that accident in my mind many times and the car always flashed in front of me, came out of nowhere. One day I realized the car came out of nowhere because I wasn’t looking. I went through that intersection like I owned it, looking straight ahead. I could have changed things, I should have been looking for side traffic and I could have slowed down.
This was my fault because I could have done things to prevent it and didn’t and knowing that made me feel like I had control again. The fear was gone.

And after three years without a bike I was ready to ride again and have ridden many miles from coast to coast.

I would rather be alive than “right”.
 

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Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
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Interesting observation. You were probably distracted by the rain, and not paying the attention you would normally. I hate riding in the rain, because of the reduced visibility it causes.

Glad you recovered and continued riding after a brief break. Otherwise we wouldn't have your exploits to read about.
 

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Shaper Of All Things Metal
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I would rather be alive than “right”.
Completely agree with this sentiment.

That said, there absolutely are times when someone will either pull out in front of or turn across our paths without warning or time enough to avoid it, no matter how alert we are... so there are times it's not our fault. We need to accept that and not let it deter us from enjoying something we love to do.

For me, knowing it was something I could have prevented would make me question my ability to ride safely, more than acknowledging it was someone else at fault (if it really was).

All that to say, fear can be instilled by many experiences. It's what we do with that fear that matters. It can paralyze us or we can learn from it.

If this is your story, Rollin, I agree with Critter... glad you got back on the horse! ;)
 

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Gone
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In most crashes, there is something that the rider could have changed to avoid it. Removing risk factors lessen the chances of being in a crash. There are very few instances where absolutely nothing could have been done.

No one is perfect, and we all make riding mistakes. Doing our best at all times to stay safe is the smartest way to go about it.
 

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You know, Rollin? That epiphany you had is excellent! Excellent for motorcyclists. Very much. But I hope people can see how deep it can go. Far beyond our bikes, even.

In a relationship I had, things went way south. People kept telling me, "it's not your fault." Like you, as long as I believed that, things never got better. Once I had the realization that some of it was indeed my fault, a lot of it, actually, I was able to get past it. Like you on your bike, that epiphany made things better than they had ever been before.

An older, wiser friend of mine will tell anyone, anytime something bad happens, "find your fault, and everything will get better." He was right.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Actually we would all rather be alive than dead right. We really do have a lot to control in these issues. In my wreck it was pointed out it wasn't my fault. The roads were wet. I could have been going slower. I did have control of that. It was my fault.
 

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Retired twice: Navy and as a govt contractor
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Not my fault.

I think you learned the correct lesson Rollin.
Unfortunately all crashes are our fault, if only for not preventing it.
In the sailing rules it says something like: Thou shall avoid a collision whether you are in the right or wrong.
In the dark and rain tho, it is easy to let it happen.

Years ago we had a CB750 rider we called Baskit case Basnett, because his bike was always in pieces in a basket, as the result of a crash.
He always said it was not his fault.
One day I heard him riding towards our shop along with Clyde the slide.
Out in front by himself, nothing in sight, he veered in to the gravel on the edge of the paved road, and crashed. I ran inside and yelled to the staff " how basket case just crashed, all by himself " We all walked over to where he was lying in the gravel to savour the moment.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Not My Fault?

On October 13th many years ago I had my first ambulance ride. I always remember the date because it was Friday the 13th.
I was riding home and it was dark and raining. I had been on the freeway but it was getting to be hard to see so I got off thinking the side roads would be safer.
At the very first intersection a car turned left in front of me. I veered right but hit the front of the car; I was thrown into the air and landed on my back on the other side of the car.
They did a (my first and hopefully last) chalk outline of me and loaded me into the ambulance. The police came over and said “don’t worry, there were a lot of witnesses, it’s not your fault”.
When I told others about the accident I always got the same comment “wasn’t your fault”.

Not our fault always seems to make us feel better but I’m still riding in an ambulance. Not my fault bothered me, I had crashed before but it was always my fault. Usually involved speed.
I wasn’t hurt bad, black and blue from my heels to my shoulder bones, and few cuts and puncture wounds but no broken bones. I walked very slowly for a while.
I rebuilt the bike that winter; it needed a new frame, swing arm, engine cases, gas tank and new paint.

I rode the bike that next summer but was very nervous about it. I was slowing down at green lights and seemed to be afraid of everything. I wasn’t enjoying riding and sold the bike the next October. I bought a Jeep Wrangler with air bags and a roll bar!

I had replayed that accident in my mind many times and the car always flashed in front of me, came out of nowhere. One day I realized the car came out of nowhere because I wasn’t looking. I went through that intersection like I owned it, looking straight ahead. I could have changed things, I should have been looking for side traffic and I could have slowed down.
This was my fault because I could have done things to prevent it and didn’t and knowing that made me feel like I had control again. The fear was gone.

And after three years without a bike I was ready to ride again and have ridden many miles from coast to coast.

I would rather be alive than “right”.
This is a very good and thought provoking post!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Interesting observation. You were probably distracted by the rain, and not paying the attention you would normally. I hate riding in the rain, because of the reduced visibility it causes.

Glad you recovered and continued riding after a brief break. Otherwise we wouldn't have your exploits to read about.
Thank you!!
When I started again I did avoid riding in the rain, took awhile to get comfortable again.

I am glad I tried again, I would have missed a lot!
 

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Commute Racer
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Very good post OP.

I think in most accidents that are not the rider's fault, there are still good habits they could adopt to avoid similar situations.

A few months ago I was trying in vain to give advice to a newer rider on another forum I frequent who wasn't having it. He was Rossi Jr after all. I knew he was in for a rude awakening some day, and sure enough I hear today he rode his final ride yesterday. It doesn't feel good to be right. Just as I know it doesn't feel good to crash when you were not legally at fault. I've done it twice. It's no conciliation to be justified and broken.

It's a daily struggle for me to curb my ego and give way to cagers invading my space. I always want to defend my position or zoom ahead of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Completely agree with this sentiment.

That said, there absolutely are times when someone will either pull out in front of or turn across our paths without warning or time enough to avoid it, no matter how alert we are... so there are times it's not our fault. We need to accept that and not let it deter us from enjoying something we love to do.

For me, knowing it was something I could have prevented would make me question my ability to ride safely, more than acknowledging it was someone else at fault (if it really was).

All that to say, fear can be instilled by many experiences. It's what we do with that fear that matters. It can paralyze us or we can learn from it.

If this is your story, Rollin, I agree with Critter... glad you got back on the horse! ;)
Thank you!!
 

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Swamp Rat Rider
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Good Post Up Rollin .. Most of us know the Miles you have racked up in the past few years ..
 

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Good post. My Dad used to say it doesn't matter who is right if a pedestrian gets hit by a car. I always try to ride with the same thought. No matter how right I am, if a car hits me it is going to be worse for me on a motorcycle.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Good post. My Dad used to say it doesn't matter who is right if a pedestrian gets hit by a car. I always try to ride with the same thought. No matter how right I am, if a car hits me it is going to be worse for me on a motorcycle.
That's similar to how I was instructed piloting a fire engine. You are of no value if you can't get to the fire due to an accident so if you have one it's your fault. I've tried to remember that but obviously have failed once.:D But it certainly is true in the fire fighting world. Not much good if you aren't at the fire. Always made sense to me.
 

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Commute Racer
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I imagine it's the same for ambulance drivers. I see those lights way way behind me, and I struggle to stay ahead because I know once they pass me by I'll have to slow down :(
 

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Ambulance

Back in the seventies I took a defensive driving course. The instructor was an ambulance driver in Vancouver BC. In 30 years he had zero accidents.
I was apprehensive about the course, but enjoyed it. Got along great with the instructor. I was the only bike rider taking the course. Many there would told to attend by the authorities. As a bike rider I was already practicing most of the defensive things being taught. The cage drivers tended to drive as if they were in armoured vehicles.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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Female Rider
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Great write up. Thanks for sharing it!! It's got me rethinking a few of the things that has happened to me.
 
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