MSF Training Helps Car Drivers Too
By Glenn Phillips
As a result of my wife and I deciding to learn to ride, we found an MSF sponsored safety course in our area to obtain our license. We figured that not having any friends nearby that ride, this would be the only logical way to get our license. Well, we got so much more out of the course then just a license, and as I will relate later, probably my life as well!
Being new to the sport, I was excited, nervous, and questioning my confidence in being able to ride a motorcycle. I have been driving a car for 25 years with barely an incident, but the thought of controlling a motorcycle was daunting at best. So, I went to the class determined to get everything I could from it. I was pleased to see that it went beyond what I thought would be the entire content, controlling the motorcycle. The instructors material was thorough and the benefit of their experience was added for a well rounded course.
After the first day, as I was driving my car I started thinking about my driving. Where would I be if I was a motorcycle, what are the hazards out there. I figured better to practice now and be ready when the eventual mishap does occur. So, I started practicing SIPDE techniques while driving the car. On Sunday, I was a little shaky, but I passed my skills evaluation. I was really pleased and new I would have to work hard to continue to develop those skills. I figured I would take it easy. Keep to local areas with well known road conditions. As I grew my skill sets, I would expand the riding area and attempt new road conditions not tried before. I thought that this slow technique would be the way to safe learning on the open roads. However, I kept using my SIPDE techniques in my car as a way of practicing those skills, never fully realizing that they can be just as important for my car.
Two nights after I passed the course, I learned that lesson. I was driving down my wooded street in my car. This is normally a very uneventful part of my drive home. However, that evening I was practicing my SIPDE and I didn't stop using it when I got off the busy, store infested highway. I kept using it on my otherwise boring street and I notices something glowing in the woods about 10 seconds ahead of me. My immediate reaction was "this is a potential mishap" and I slowed down. As I approached about 5 seconds away, the biggest buck I had ever seen jumped out onto the road. I slowed further thinking that I was lucky and it hit me immediately. I remembered my instructor Charlie's voice saying "where you see one deer, you WILL see more". I came to an immediate stop and sure enough three more darted across. Had I not used my SIPDE techniques, I would have complacently driven into the buck. Had I not continued using my SIPDE techniques, I would have driven, after my slow down, into the remaining deer.
I was thinking as I pulled into my driveway, how much I had gained from the course and the instructors like Charlie and George. They had given me techniques for "the road", regardless of what I was driving and awakened me to the dangers I had forgotten existed out there. Today, I have 700 miles on my bike and I have confidence and use my head out there as they taught me. They have given me a new appreciation for the road and, in my estimation, added years to my life. For that I thank them deeply.
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