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Extraordinarily close call for Gizmag's Loz Blain

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August 31, 2011

Gizmag's Loz Blain comes far too close for comfort during our latest video shoot

Gizmag's Loz Blain comes far too close for comfort during our latest video shoot

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So here's the story. I was out test riding the BMW S1000RR for the latest in our video motorcycle review series. I had a pillion on the back, Karen, taking her first ride on a sportsbike.

Going well under the 100 km/h (62 mph) speed limit, I came up on a blind, cresting right hand bend. Staying nice and wide, I saw a 4WD (probably a Toyota Hilux) coming the other way, about a foot into my lane. No problem, happens all the time - but in general the driver realizes they're running wide, corrects their path and there's no issue.

This guy didn't - in fact, at the last second he ran even wider. I managed to dodge him by a matter of a couple of inches, but ran off the road in the process. Luckily the BMW is laden with smart ABS and traction control technology that helped me scrub off some speed in the grass and gravel, and get it back on the road, leaving us with this spectacular video footage.

Karen was fine - right up until she saw the video footage and the gravity of the incident hit home.

But it occurred to me that had I managed to dodge the oncoming 4WD, then run off the road and crashed, the statistics and the newspapers would tell a familiar story: "a 34 year-old motorcyclist and a female passenger were killed today when the rider lost control of his 1000cc sportsbike. It was a single vehicle accident, speed is believed to be a factor."

Perhaps next time you hear a motorcycle crash distilled down to those words, think of this video and realize that not all single vehicle accidents are the rider's fault. Ride safe out there!

Oh, and if anyone reckons they know how to extract a license plate from a few blurred frames of video footage, we'd love to hear how to do it!

Extraordinarily close call for Gizmag's Loz Blain

The gorgeous (and technology packed) BMW S1000RR - Click here to download a wallpaper image (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag)

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
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42 Comments

I am happy because you survived this ugly situation and you are right, they usually blame it on the biker, they do it all the time.

Leon Aguilera Radford
31st August, 2011 @ 09:21 am PDT

You should have turned around and caught that A** hole. Scary.

Jamie Estep
31st August, 2011 @ 09:29 am PDT

What am I missing here...? First, there was 'no blind, cresting bend' (check the video), and second, unless the guy was in England (and it didn't look like it), HE was on the friggen WRONG side of the road!

[He was in Australia, so he was where he belonged -Ed]

Dave Brough
31st August, 2011 @ 10:01 am PDT

Wow! Glad everyone is alright- close call that could have been a tragic story. Glad everyone made it through safely!

Robert Volk
31st August, 2011 @ 10:23 am PDT

Glad that you are ok. I was traveling directly next to a lady going the same direction through town when she moved into my lane forcing me onto the center median. After she had forced me onto the median she moved back into her lane and never looked back. I didn't go down but I imagined the police report. "Motorcyclist loses control."

Bob B
31st August, 2011 @ 10:27 am PDT

I'm tremendously glad that you and your rider came out ok in this, but at the age of 77 I've pretty much given up on bicycles and motorcycles on public roads because of negligent, indifferent people like the guy driving the SUV in your video.

This video brings to mind an old acquaintance by the name of Johnny McLaughlin, a harder-than-nails former WWII fighter pilot, who raced and won on bikes here in Southern California for years. I once watched Johnny in a match race here at Willow Springs against Mike Hailwood and Paddy Driver, but he was badly outclassed and eventually dropped his G45 in a turn, and came back to the pits to tell us that he had been injured in the spill--a fingernail had been torn off. But he was truly an accomplished rider and unquestionably fearless.

Some years after the Willow Springs race, Johnny was riding on the road when a car crossed the centerline and took off his left arm. It has always been unimaginable to me that a rider of Johnny's caliber could have been victimized like this.

I love bikes, and have always viewed them as huge fun, but the proliferation of bigger vehicles, with many more distractions inside like cellphones, video screens, blaring headphones and drivers with nearly flatlined brainscans,

has converted what I used to think of as a delightful diversion into what I now regard as damn near death defying.

Truly unfortunate. But, again, I'm glad you came through OK. Stay safe.

Ralph L. Seifer, Long Beach, California

rseifer
31st August, 2011 @ 10:28 am PDT

Wow. You did a great job handling that situation. That was incredibly close! Glad you and your passenger came out ok!

Reuben Bakker
31st August, 2011 @ 10:46 am PDT

Hey,

This "at the last second he ran even wider" is the typical reaction of a driver coming from abroad where they/we drive, you know, on the right side of the road,

(I must confess this did happen to me, I was the wrong guy and nobody was hurt...)

Pierre-André Aebischer
31st August, 2011 @ 10:47 am PDT

OMG...I would have turned around and given him a piece of my mind. I can't believe all you did was shake your head and smile.

dpark76
31st August, 2011 @ 10:50 am PDT

Same distance but I was riding a Trek mountain bike and the driver of the car was trying to beat the traffic light from behind me. All I herd was the roar of the engine. After the passing car. I though how wonderful it would have been to have keyed the side of car as it passed me or futuristic laser defense paint scratchier platform.

Robert DuBois
31st August, 2011 @ 10:56 am PDT

If you want your traffic control cops to be invisible don't use unmarked cars, put them on bikes.

Slowburn
31st August, 2011 @ 12:51 pm PDT

Another thing the video shows is that the ABS and traction control on the bike are first rate.

Luddite
31st August, 2011 @ 01:06 pm PDT

My dad taught motorcycle safety classes for many, many years. He rode for 60 years and never once had a collision or dumped any of his bikes. But he had plenty of stories of close calls with drivers of automobiles.

I can still hear his voice in my head reciting his basic tenet of motorcycle safety:

EVERY driver is out to kill you. Ride accordingly.

Mark Petereit
31st August, 2011 @ 01:09 pm PDT

riding a 2 wheeled vehicle on roads where there are 3 or more wheeled vehicles travelling regularly above 40 miles an hour ( fast roads, some roads in cities, almost all roads out of cities) is simply taking a risk that is above and beyond that taken when you ride on roads with slower moving vehicles.

i grew up being a bicycle package messenger in manhattan, and i've been hit by cars , almost run over by a bus, been in at least 10 crashes with other bikes and pedestrians.

when human beings travel above 45 miles an hour, they do not have the attention span, nor capacity to react, to really be fullly prepared for how to react, when an accident happens.

above 45 miles an hour, people are simply trying to avoid accidents, and once you are in an accident, there is almost nothing you can do to mitigate it before the crash comes to its finish. we have air bags, abs , crumple zones, etc.....but those are really not going to help if you are on a two wheeler. a helmet , gloves leather and protective footwear are all you can do to prepare for flying above or on or at objects on the ground at 45 miles an hour plus.

Facebook User
31st August, 2011 @ 02:03 pm PDT

Glad you lucked out. 30 years ago I just happened to be at the very far edge of the road, closer than I normally get and a car driver passed another car going up a hill on a curve at night doing at least 80 miles per hour. I recall having the time to make a tiny gasp as his side view mirror missed my handle bar by just a scant inch or so.

The incident simply took my breath away. Pulled over to gather my thoughts amazed to be alive.

lwesson
31st August, 2011 @ 02:03 pm PDT

I'd still hand the footage to the police and see if they can do anything with the footage! Glad you two are ok! That was seriously close, it's a good thing you have quick reflexes!

Dave BloodKing Bouwens
31st August, 2011 @ 03:28 pm PDT

I am certainly glad you did NOT turn around and try to run the guy down. If you are human, your adrenaline levels had to be through the roof, and you were shaking everywhere, not just your head. Not exactly optimum for a high speed pursuit. Plus, even if you did have enough presence of mind to pull it off, what then? I guess if you got the plate number and had the video, and maybe if the driver of the truck had a record of violations, you may have some success at bringing him to justice, but then again, he might decide to take you out once and for all. I know that's a very pessimistic outlook, and if it had happened to me, I could not definitely say what I would do. Thanks for posting this however; it will be with me on my commute tomorrow. "Ride like your invisible."

Dave Brumley
31st August, 2011 @ 03:47 pm PDT

I'd be shaking my head to. I want to chase them and punch the bastards when this type of shit happens, good to see you survived ok

Terry Penrose
31st August, 2011 @ 06:33 pm PDT

I think something like this should be on every bike: http://www.gizmag.com/icar-black-box-app-for-iphone/17724/

Ludwig Heinrich
31st August, 2011 @ 06:47 pm PDT

I would love to have been a fly on the wall of your helmet to hear the words uttered in the seconds following! I can but imagine...

It looked like a quite narrow road with not much room to manoeuvre - you were exceptionally lucky!

Andrew Cox
31st August, 2011 @ 07:04 pm PDT

I think you were actually lucky to be on a bike.

Had you been in a car you would have had no choice but to hit the other car head on!

MItch C
31st August, 2011 @ 07:18 pm PDT

Lots of smart folks read this; you should post the complete full-resolution version of the part of the clip and/or every full frame that contains the car plates. Would it be a fair assumption to expect it's going to be a NSW plate?

christopher
31st August, 2011 @ 07:35 pm PDT

I noticed the bike was extremely close to the center line, far closer than I would EVER drive a large SUV, much less a bike!!

JoeB
31st August, 2011 @ 08:15 pm PDT

Can I ask if you happened to be in Queensland when doing the shoot? That number plate had the appearance of a bit of green in it which would indicate that it was someone from "The Smart State" (what a laugh).

Queenslanders have proven themselves time and time and time again to be the WORST operators of motor vehicles in the country!

I know this because I was born and bred in Queensland and ride a 90km loop to and from work on a bike every day. Indicators are an afterthought; mirrors are just something to hang ornaments from.

Wankers in never-leave-the-blacktop 4 wheel drives are second only to oblivious driving tactics to people in Hondas and Camrys!

Matt51F1
31st August, 2011 @ 08:42 pm PDT

I'm pleased you are still whole and hearty and able to smile about the near miss.

Despite your account, looking at the vid I don't think you were effectively 'buffered left' (the bike appears mid lane at time of passing) and I don't think you "managed" to do much other than pull your arm in at the last moment. In other words you were exceptionally lucky. But great job of 'keeping it together' in the gravel.

But the point about 'single vehicle' motorcycle accident being blamed on the rider/motorcycle/speeding etc. when in fact other vehicles are involved and to blame, is valid from my riding experience and other experience.

Some time ago there was a road safety 'in depth' study of nearly 100 motorcycle accidents in the Fairfield region of NSW (using standard Police reports and untrained disinterested standard Station Cops to fill out the reports). In nearly every case the conclusion was rider error or speeding but even a superficial perusal of the studied facts by an experienced rider would have concluded it was more probably that another vehicle was involved. But as we all know Road Safety studies are always done with high principled objectivity and never done as 'Patron Pleasing' exercises.

Cappra
31st August, 2011 @ 09:50 pm PDT

My sympathy for the rider. You are lucky to be alive! Hope you catch that jerk.))

Renārs Grebežs
1st September, 2011 @ 12:33 am PDT

Looked like a classic case of texting.

Cell towers in the area might be able to track who it was.

I survived a head-on similar.

Best advice I can give, go into tight tuck just before hitting the road.

Tucking arm in the last micro second perhaps saved it.

Philscbx
1st September, 2011 @ 04:12 am PDT

@Dave Brough It's not only 'england' where people drive on the left.

Bangladesh, India, Ireland, Hong Kong, Japan, Australia, NZ, most of southern africa and most of the carribbean drive on the left too. In all over 2 billion people.

mommus
1st September, 2011 @ 06:05 am PDT

One day our vehicles will log line crossings like that one and the driver will have zero defense when and if a preventable "accident" occurs. Too many yahoos on country roads try to straighten out the curves and, particularly at the crest of a hill, should be thinking about the inevitable oncoming vehicle - it's self preservation, if not consideration for human life (and insurance rates).

Every street-ridden motorcycle should have front and read facing digital micro cameras for exactly this sort of event. The SUV driver would most certainly have received both dangerous driving and speeding tickets and, as a result, been one step closer to saying goodbye to his license.

Muraculous
1st September, 2011 @ 07:32 am PDT

While I agree with the folks who say this was a close call and this guy was negligent. Glad you made it in one piece. From having driven roads like these in my area though to nimrods like this in a souped up 4x4 if you'd been driving a Mack truck he'd have hit you. They run these country roads beyond their vehicles ability to stick to the road that's why he was running wide and probably why he slid wider right as you passed him. He was thinking he could stick the corner and slid.

We had a fatal collision like this recently. Big Heavy 4x4 doing 75 MPH on a two lane country road slid over the yellow line and plowed a four door sedan killed two kids and crippled their mother. He of course had minimal injuries.

VirtualGathis
1st September, 2011 @ 07:47 am PDT

To the Rider,

Maintaining control of a motorcycle on dirt with 1 person is an exercise in insanity. Maintaining control after a near collision with a truck and a rider on a sport bike is some fantastic riding. Good job not over reacting. I would say you threaded the needle without any warning on that one. Not sure if I am allowed to say this in the comments or not but damn good show on that one and glad no one got hurt.

Sean

Slar Mas
1st September, 2011 @ 03:08 pm PDT

Another clear message that to continue to allow humans to have control of the car they are in when it exceeds 45km/h is unacceptable.

Every car should be fitted with systems that take control when the car gets to 45km/h and will not return control until the speed drops below that.

Having been someone who also has narrowly escaped death on numerous occasions on city and country roads where another driver on the road has lost concentration, been in too much of a hurry or fallen asleep at the wheel, I wish for a day when the human factor is removed from driving.

However, when governments rely so heavily on the millions of dollars in revenue produced from not have computerised or driverless cars breaking speed limits and parking fines, how will you ever get a system approved for use in retail cars. Sure some assisted systems will get in but a car that can drive itself, locate the nearest legal parking spot and wait for you to call it to come and pick you up, I doubt it. I want it but I doubt it.

Foxy1968
1st September, 2011 @ 06:09 pm PDT

Mommus....thanks so much for correcting Mr.Brough's lack of knowledge! Far too many people don't bother to think about the fact that everyone started riding and driving on the left-hand side of the road for the simple reson that most people are right-handed. Think of those on horseback fighting with swords or lances. Carriages and other horse-drawn vehicles followed suit. Even America's early cars did the same and you can see this at a great museum in the Blue Mountains of Virginia at the Louray Caverns.

The reason for switching sides is not entirely clear but generally M.Bonaparte takes the blame for this as he merely wanted to demonstrate his power by forcing the entire population to change their ways!

professore
2nd September, 2011 @ 09:17 am PDT

Yes, and if there are no witnesses or paint from the errant vehicle on the motorcycle,they always assume rider error.

I ride with some extra clearance lights etc,the safetycrats frequently push "conspicuity" in motorcycle safety-especially when trying to justify hardwired headlights. But being easy to see is one thing,getting a car driver to look first is easier said than done.

Good riding,shows he's experienced in varied surfaces-not all riders can handle unsealed surfaces in emergency situations. Riding a big four cylinder bike on dirt can be fun,but can end in tears in a split second if you havn't got your wits about you. Good to see also the latest ABS can stop on the loose so well too.

gragraposker
2nd September, 2011 @ 10:07 am PDT

While it's easy to point the finger at auto and truck drivers, a little known fact has come to light regarding many motorcycle accidents, especially those involving the bike turning left across traffic. That fact deals with "expectation". Most drivers simply are not expecting to see motorcycles. How often have you heard those words..."I never saw him". They didn't because they didn't expect to do so. I've noted on certain roads in Northern California where there are a lot of bikers, that drivers are far more aware and courteous. The *expect* to see bikes on the road. Bikers simply need to be even more aware of this factor when out riding. It is *their* life which is hanging in the balance, so take responsibility for the reality of the situation. You're smaller and more difficult to see. Add to that the lack of expectation on the part of most drivers and be more diligent. (I almost lost my daughter a couple of years ago when a semi made a right hand turn from the left lane and ran his rear wheels right over her and her bike. She came within 5 minutes of buying the farm! The truck driver simply didn't see her.)

TheRogue1000
2nd September, 2011 @ 04:48 pm PDT

i turned into a road today and there was a car about 20 meters away going at about 35kps. i had 5 seconds so i pulled out, and one second later, i looked to the right and some guy was overtaking me on the inside, he presumably turned into the road above me from a drive or something at the same time i turned, and i came 12 inches from the corned or the bonnet. Why do motorcycle helmets have such crappy peripheral vision? some entrepreners here should look into making helmets have normal peripheral vision, on a bycicle i would have never had that accident because i would have seen him, i did 7000 k on an electric bike last year so i KNOW. motorcycle helmets are crap they block your side views completey!

Antony Stewart
4th September, 2011 @ 11:17 am PDT

I care way too much about dying to ride a bike now, but in my youth I had a couple. One time a lady made eye contact with me then did a left turn in front of me. It took some real stunt driving to avoid her and the car behind her, but I did it. If she had not looked like she was 100 years old I would have chased her down and beat her a$$. You can never underestimate the stupidity of people.

Fred Frontino
5th September, 2011 @ 11:30 am PDT

That rated about a 9.8 on the rectal pucker factor.

phydeaux
5th September, 2011 @ 06:21 pm PDT

That was MENTAL!! I'd submit that footage for use in the next televised bike awareness campaign here in Australia. I live in Far North Queensland and used to live on the Kuranda Range, precisely this kinda thing happens ALL THE TIME on the ranges and back roads up here, especially in the wet season, and I've personally lost friends to 4x4s rampaging towards Cape York in the holiday season.

Vincent Najger
11th September, 2011 @ 07:11 pm PDT

Interesting write-up. Horror situation. From the sounds of it, you'll be less complacent next time, especially taking a passenger on public roads. I don't agree with your connection to the "speed a factor" story line, but I do agree there are some absurd things said or assumed post hoc when a rider is injured or killed and the car driver is taken off to hospital or sent home in the tow truck without being charged with suspicion of manslaughter. I think if we started seeing drivers in court for manslaughter when they're on their cell phones or they actually take a rider down, we'd change the road laws, change the insurance system and we'd have negligent drivers banned from driving. Why the hell doesn't anyone ever get banned from driving?!

Adam Non
21st May, 2012 @ 02:03 pm PDT

Pretty sure if you want to get the license plate all you have to do is shout "clarify" at the computer.

RichardH
21st July, 2014 @ 06:57 pm PDT

Another reason to beef up driver license. I've come to have a healthy disrespect for pickup truck drivers, as well as SUVs and even minivans. Most of them are clueless about their environment.

Nicolas Zart
22nd August, 2014 @ 08:28 am PDT
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