December 2002 Safety Thoughts 

Seasonal Road Hazards 

by Dave Hansen, Safety Officer 

Late season riding adds some new hazards we should all be aware of. 

The most obvious is leaves on the road.  Fallen leaves on the roadway that can cause a leaning motorcycle to slide out from under (low side) you in a corner, or (worse yet) slide enough to get some side-slip momentum, then suddenly slip from beneath the tire allowing it to regain traction & throw you into a high-side crash.  Better to be cautious & stay on two wheels; avoid riding on leaves in a corner if at all possible.  When it's not possible to avoid them, slow down before entering a corner covered with leaves, even when they look dry. 

Another road hazard that comes with the cooler weather is the frosty road condition referred to frequently as "black ice".  Heavy dew can accumulate on roadways overnight & when temperatures & humidity levels are right, this sneaky hazard can put a motorcyclist down in an instant.  It is a particularly nasty hazard because it can be invisible at first glance.

Those that have still been riding this past week have been exposed to another, man-made hazard.  In my area, road maintenance trucks had already been busy putting down a layer of salt in corners & at intersections, even before there was any roadway snow accumulation to be dealt with.  The salt particles left undissolved by moisture from rain or snow, act like sand on the roadway, causing loss of traction.  This is particularly hazardous if you’ve been riding unsalted roads and just happen to travel into an area that has been salted starting with the corner you’re about to enter or intersection you need to make a turn or stop at.  

As the seasons change here in Michigan, sometimes we’re able to enjoy extended riding opportunities (although as I write this the morning of the December meeting, I believe most of those opportunities are already behind us for this season), but remember, they bring new challenges as well.  Be alert to these challenges & changing sets of road hazards and you'll still be able to experience some additional saddle time. 

Tip - Clean the bike immediately after each ride this time of year to prevent corrosion. 

Ride Safe!

Words of Safety