Saturday, March 24, 2007

MSF Acronymns

Speaking of motorcycle safety and useful mnemonics...

These are from the MSF, which (despite their current Borgish behavior) will teach you skills that (if practiced) will save your life.

T-CLOCK stands for:
  • Tires
  • Controls
  • Lights
  • Oil level
  • Chassis
  • (Kick)stand(s)

FINE-CC (start-up checklist; things to check when starting the bike)
  • Fuel valve (irrelevant on fuel-injected bikes)
  • Ignition switch (the key)
  • Neutral (where to put your gear shift)
  • Engine kill switch (what your buddies are always fooling with at gas stops)
  • Clutch (pull in the lever, even if you ARE in neutral)
  • Choke (also irrelevant on fuel-injected bikes)

On a fuel-injected bike like my GL1800, I would edit this to NICE
  • Neutral
  • Ignition on
  • Clutch level pulled n
  • Engine switch on
or perhaps NECK
  • Neutral
  • Engine switch on
  • Clutch lever in
  • Key on

The current SEE
  • Scan the environment
  • Evaluate the situation
  • Execute your maneuvers
used to be the far more useful SIPDE
  • Scan the environment
  • Identify possible hazards
  • Predict what is going to happen
  • Decide what you're going to do
  • Execute your move
PLP = Parking Lot Practice; going out, finding a big empty place, dropping your bricks, and working on low-speed skills. I don't do this nearly often enough.

Honda provided a nice little booklet for PLP with my bike. There's a great page of advanced stuff from the Alameda County Sherrif's pages available as both html and ad a pdf. But I'd try to get good at the basics first.

Having been taught the Smith system of defensive driving way back in the day, the MSF emphasis on watching people around you and always predicting what will happen and knowing what your reaction should be was marvelously useful. I still remember the pop quizzes in drivers' ed where the instructor would cover the rear view mirror and ask me what was back there. Always be aware; always know what your route to safety is.

BTW, the Smith system is basically:
  • Aim high in steering (look way down the road)
  • Big Picture (what is happening and how does it all relate? How will this one guy's actions affect everything else?)
  • Scan (keep your eyes moving; know what's everywhere)
  • Know your out (always have an escape route)
  • Visibility (make sure everyone sees you)

This is as good for motorcycling as it is in a cage.


UltraCrepidarian said...

My dad works in a hospital. He's retiring this year. In 25 years of working beside doctors and nurses, he's seen more motorcycle related deaths than any other kind of motor-vehicle related death. It's not fair, you know, but it's the guy on the bike who dies when the lady in the buick doesn't see him.

My neighbor, nice young kid, 25 years old, broke his legs in four places, and has metal rods inside him now, holding his shattered body together, because of a motorcycle accident.

I don't think I could bring myself to get on a bike, or ever own one. I'm scared shitless of them. Even if you're a safe and observant rider, the eejits in the cars have it in for you. To say nothing of the guys in the trucks who can't see you at all.

I have seen idiots on bikes too. The guys with the crotch-rockets who race each other through traffic, scooting between cars, in their own "motorcycle lane".

I've been a passenger on a bike once, my cousin took me out, and it was WAY fun. Afterwards, I went home, and told my mom I thought it might be fun to buy a bike. I think that idea upset her even more than the time I said I wanted to get my ears pierced. [GRIN]


St. Izzy said...

Yeah, cars are much more prone to give their own lives to protect their drivers and passengers these days. On a bike, you are not surrounded by that protective cage. So when a bike accident occurs, the outcome is usually worse than in a car accident. But taken on a per capita basis (perhaps on a per operator or per vehicle basis), there are far fewer bike accidents than car accidents.

I had at least three friends dead of three different car accidents before I graduated from high school. I never considered giving up cars.

I have a student out of school right now because he fell asleep on the way home from play practice and rolled his SUV. He has a broken back (T7 and T8) but, Deo gratias no nerve damage. He will suffer back pain for the rest of his life. But I'll bet that neither he nor any of his friends and family give a single thought to walking away from cars.

There is another young driver at my small private school who has totaled (totaled!) no less than three vehicles this year. I kind of wish that her vehicles weren't quite as protective and that she suffered more than bumps and scrapes; she (or her parents) might actually decide that she is in serious need of skills training. But no one in her family has considered the possibility that she should stay out of cars for a while.

I could go on with my litany of four-wheeled mayhem, and not with hearsay but with people that I actually know (or knew). My personal bike list is much, much shorter and (so far) involves no fatalities.

Almost all of us have heard of someone being in a serious motorcycle accident, and a common response is "man, those things are dangerous." But almost all of us actually know someone who has been in a serious car accident, and it is fairly uncommon for any of us to think, "man, those things are dangerous."

If an accident is going to find me, would I rather be on four wheels than two? From the perspective of safety alone, certainly. But on a daily basis, I much prefer being on two wheels than on four, and I refuse to live my life from the perspective of fear of what might happen rather than from the perspective of enjoyment of what is happening.

Getting around on two wheels is a risk I have chosen to accept.