If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 28 August 2010


There was a link to this video on the Honda Pan European forum that I still visit. A 'friend of a friend' of one of the guys there posted it. He is riding a Royal Enfield in Kashmir and wearing a helmet cam. This is what happens:

The guy survived it with a broken leg and lots of cuts and bruises. I'd say he was pretty lucky to survive it at all.

It's also an interesting discussion point. From what I can see of the situation, there was nothing the rider could have done to avoid the impact once it had started to happen. It was just one of those nightmarish occurrences where it all goes wrong and you are in the lap of the Gods. The camera doesn't show much of the approaching traffic off to the right (which perhaps indicates the rider's head wasn't pointed that way either, which might be significant). I wonder if the speed and direction of the 4x4 for the five seconds before the crash would have given an observant rider a clue about what was likely to happen? We couldn't see that, but I suspect that the 4x4 was going noticeably too fast for the corner and surface. Perhaps a more observant rider might have seen that and taken avoiding action early.

I wasn't there and I can't judge. But if anything similar ever happens to me, I hope that the Fates are smiling on me that day, as they were on Ozzyandbikes.


  1. I'm of the opinion that the vast majority of motorcycle crashes are avoidable - mostly they just need the rider to do a bit more thinking to avoid getting into an incident. This is the first of a huge number of Youtube bike crash video that I've seen that doesn't fit that criteria though.

    Hard to see how a near stationary bike on a narrow bridge could do much to avoid that. With 20-20 hindsight, had they pulled up on the nearside of the lead bike they would not have been inn the pat of the careering mini-bus.

    But I doubt I would have done that....

  2. I agree completely that most crashes are avoidable. I wouldn't be riding if I didn't think that. I've seen a few YouTube crashes and they are almost all either stupidity (stunts gone wrong) or woeful misjudgement of speed and ability. In this case, it seems hard to see what the rider could have done. Bearing in mind the 20/20 hindsight thing, if the rider had been watching the oncoming traffic (and the movement of the helmet cam suggests he wasn't) he might have been able to take avoiding action. But that's not to say I would have done any better. None of us is perfect.

    Just one to chalk up to experience, I think, and to be glad that this kind of incident is very, very rare. At least, it is in the UK - the Indian sub-continent does have rather a reputation for this kind of driving - something that anyone riding over there would surely be aware of.

  3. Can't really tell from the somewhat scrambled soundtrack, but it looks to me as if he hears something at just about 0.47 (when the cam swings round), and is either thinking about taking off rightwards (at 0.48, when the bars swing) or bracing for impact.

    It's difficult to see where the bridgework actually ends, but it looks like he might've been able to take it off-road to the left, if he'd gassed it immediately (and the Enfield had enough puff). That'd be some quick thinking to pull, on the spot and with the van in your face, though. I'd love to think I'd have the presence of mind to think of it at the time myself...

    Not sure if you mean the white 4x4, Rich? I had the wrong all on the part of the purple van - again, very hard to tell as the action happens off-screen, but he's the one who looks wide and fast when the picture swings back. If so, the rider did have the opportunity to clock it back at 0.45/0.46, just when he turns his head away (before that, I doubt he could see past the oncoming truck). That extra second might well have been his best chance, but it would take a harsher critic than me to call it poor observation on the strength of this film.

    It doesn't look like his mate, or the estate car in front, got off scot-free, either. Hope nothing too grim happened to either.

    On the avoidability front - yes and no. That's always struck me as rather debatable, if only because the event did happen. Arguably - and perhaps only semantically - avoidable ones are the ones you personally, regularly DON'T have. Whereas accidents that wouldn't have occurred if you'd been positioned differently, taken some other action, not been distracted, been a better rider (etc) are actually more sort of UNavoidable in the specific circumstances in which you have them. You've already made the mistake before the accident happens, in other words, and resulting damage is only one of the possible outcomes, most of which are in the lap of the gods by that point. Rather than focussing on the result, I prefer to think that the vast majority of poor decisions are avoidable - and that some have more consequences than others. It seems to take the leeway out of being able to glibly equate zero accidents with good riding, which is an argument I've heard plenty of times from people who lacked a certain degree of self-awareness. Conversely, I do also believe that some things are genuinely unavoidable and completely beyond the individual's power to influence - they may happen while on a motorcycle, but only because one happens to be on a motorcycle at the time*. Anyway, regardless of nit-picking with the way to phrase the message, I agree entirely that it's all about the rider thinking about and making the correct decisions.

    *Like this one. With nowhere to go and no time to react: the presence of the motorcycle underneath him is almost an irrelevance, other than it was the reason for him being there at all.

  4. My mistake. I wasn't talking about the white 4x4, but the vehicle behind that overturned. I saw the overloaded roofrack and assumed it was an overlander vehicle, hence the 4x4 term. It was a Tata, although I'm not sure it was a minibus.

    If you freeze it at 0:47, you can see two things - 1, that he was in the centre of the lane, whereas a better position for visibility would have been the left, and 2, that there was a run-off area to the left which might have been a rough ride but better than getting hit. But that's all academic - none of us could be sure we would have done anything different, as you rightly say.

    I thinbk your point about avoidability is a good one. I have heard a lot of riders say that 'so-and-so was unavoidable', when what they mean is that it was unavoidable by the time it happened. They fail to see that a better decision on speed or position ten seconds before would have given them options which would make the incident a near-miss, or a did-you-see-that? The only accident I can think of where the rider really has no prior control is where you are waiting in a queue and someone hits you from behind. A lot of good riders will leave the bike in gear, watch the mirrors, and be planning an exit strategy every time, so it's not inevitable, but it's the closest to a sitting-duck situation that I can imagine. Even so, at 0:48 you can see that the rider in front is taking avoiding action and cops a glancing blow instead of a head-on. At 0:46 the overturning vehicle is invisible behind the white 4x4, but the rider in front can see it clearly and reacts. That extra second made the difference for him.

    I think the situation in the video clip is pretty close to sitting-duck for the rider concerned, mind you.


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