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For some time now I've been warning motorcyclists about the dangers of riding in western North Dakota's oilfields. I've even been chastised for trying to "chase away" tourists and other travelers. Unfortunately, another tragedy happened yesterday.

A man and wife in their 60's were traveling on four lane US2 in northwestern ND on their motorcycle yesterday when they rear ended a semi that was turning left with the turn signal on. The semi and bikers were headed in the same direction. Both motorcyclists were killed and the truck driver was not injured.

The press report made it appear that the motorcyclist was at fault for hitting a left turning vehicle but I have a feeling there's a lot more to the story than simple facts.

At this time I know few other details but I do know the driving habits of the oilfield so if you must ride through this area here are some tips.

First. almost every vehicle just came off a very dusty or muddy gravel or scoria road and their tail lights are probably covered with dust and mud. If you must pass, do it very, very cautiously.

Second, you cannot assume a truck is not turning just because it is in the right lane or not in a turning lane or because you don't see a signal. These trucks turn left from the right hand lane all the time to keep their speed up through an intersection and to get a better angle at the approach.

Third, everybody's in a big hurry....not just you! "On Time" in the oil field means only 3 or 4 hours late.

Fourth, everybody in the oil field is driving while distracted or half asleep. They're are all either yapping on the cell phone or two-way radio, eating on the run, shuffling papers or they've just come off two straight weeks of 12 hour shifts.

Fifth, with all of the danger and chaos on the roads here nobody is looking for a motorcycle. For this reason, it is imperative that ALL motorcyclists ride with their headlights on high beam or have some other highly visible driving lights.

Sixth, most accidents happen because of speed differences between vehicles. In this part of the world it is the trucks that determine how fast the traffic flows and trying to pass them is an exercise in futility and very dangerous. Be patient!

Seventh, don't tailgate. Even an empty semi can stop very quickly when needed.

Eighth, drivers are forced to make dangerous left turns in order to avoid getting rear-ended and as a result they may turn into the path of any vehicle that is hidden behind another. For this reason, the rider must remain visible to oncoming traffic with bright lights and proper left side lane placement.

Sorry for the long post.
 

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Yep, good advice. I might add, if you driving on the back road of some places in TN and come up on a farm tractor on the road, same thing, make sure they know you are there or they could very well turn left to cross a ditch going into the field, right about the same time you start to pass.:eek:4:
 

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I might add the roads are muddy in places or they were when I came through in June. More activity there than anywhere on this planet!!
 

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All of that applies to most places we ride. Here it is coal and timber haulers and shale gas drillers -- we are invisible.

prs
 

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Good advice for anywhere, not just North Dakota.
 

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Thanks for an excellent informative post. I'll remember it because of the detailed information you provided.
 

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based on the info you provided, I'd add another ... since the motorcycle hit the trailer ... never assume that vehicles in front of you are going the same speed you are. In most states, a rear-ender is always deemed the "at fault" party.
 

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Sorry for the incident.

But it was their fault. No other way to say it.

Just had a talk this morning with my oldest son, safety is on our minds all the time.

I took his ST1300 to the lake for a run, put a new tire on the rear , had to go check it out. About a 60 mile round trip. Coming back this little white car, sitting between two others signal on, nose over the line, gonna turn left.

I knew they would turn in front of me and head for the gas station across two lanes of traffic, I just sensed it. They did.

I could have downshifted and come around the curve hot, but I saw that little car........so I slow and I expect. And they do.

I will never understand how people hit other vehicles in front of them. Never will. You are supposed to be paying attention.

It does not matter if the signal or not, who cares, you simply watch them, and never trust them .

Or you die. Simple as that.

I had the ST at a full stop, balanced in the road, let them go then I went. Watching my rear the whole time.

Do not comprehend anyone running into something in front of them. Not if you pay attention.

A motorcycle is as safe as you make it. And that is up to you.
 
S

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Boy I am glad I am a motorcycle rider and not a Biker. :thumbup:

Perhaps they would have been OK if they rode with there brights on......
 

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IT'S THE SAME UP HERE IN SASK. WITH ALL THE OIL FIELD WORKERS, THEY GO 24 HOURS A DAY MOST OF THEM ON 16 HOUR WORK DAYS, SO THEY ARE ZOMBIES WHEN THEY ARE DOING ANYTHING. MOST OF OUR ROADS ARE CHEWED UP FROM ALL THE TRUCKS WITH HEAVY LOADS GOING UP & DOWN THEM. YOU JUST HAVE TO WATCH A MILE AHEAD SO YOU HAVE SOME WARNING WHATS GOING ON.......
RIDE SAFE AND BE PREPARED FOR ANYTHING.:22yikes:
 

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Kit...

Sometimes I find myself daydreaming. I just can't help it.
You are living dangerous doing that while driving or riding.It will bite you sooner or later. It just takes a blink to get in trouble:eek:4::eek:4::eek:4:
 

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Kit...

Sometimes I find myself daydreaming. I just can't help it.
We all have our moments. I have mine, we are human. I understand this.

I have rode a bike since I was 17 years old. Some days not much like today I took my Sons ST to the lake, about a 60 mile round trip. But generally I straddle a bike every day.

I was wild when young, had one speed, as fast as it would go. I guess around age 26 after a spectacular crash that I survived I got some sense. I knew I was going to die if I did not behave.

So I got serious about safety. I worked on it and I still work on it. Over the years I have developed a great caution, an awareness of all that is going on around me and if I ever find myself tired, or not paying attention, I will stop, walk around a bit, get a cup of coffee or something and take a break.

Over the years I have had many friends die on these machines. I always have to wonder why. They are good riders, they are not stupid, but sometimes just do not pay attention.

Not paying attention will get you. It only takes a mini second for something that you do not notice to do you in.

So you learn that when on a motorcycle, to be aware. Totally. To watch the traffic, to never trust a left turner, or a car up in a drive, or a big truck, you stay back and watch, if you want to go around, pick your time and then do it fast. Stay away from that truck.

Road construction, expect the work rigs to swing into you, or pull out, expect some fool to try to run the bottleneck, expect it all, then when it happens you are ready, if it does not happen that is good, but expect it again the next time.

Every time I have ever came close on a motorcycle to having a accident it has been my own lack of attention that caused it. So I work on that. You just practice it till you can sense what they will do, and at the same time you are aware of the road, that strap lying in the curve, the gravel in the curve and the dog standing in the drive. Or the dogs along a ditch along the road.

Daydreaming........tired, do not feel good that day, upset about something. Push it away, clear your mind, and concentrate on the ride.
Never ride afraid, but totally aware.

Work on street smarts. Never trust any of them.
 

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one of the things they used to teach back in the bad old days when you were actually responsible for your own actions ... was that it was too late to make a decision when something happened ... you had to have already made the decision on what you were going to do beforehand.
We used to call it "driving for everyone on the road".
We planned for everyone in front of us to slam on their brakes and make a left hand (or even a right hand) turn.
We planned for some farmer to be pulling his tractor and haywagon across a highway without "looking both ways". We planned for that oncoming car to start drifting into our lane.
ETC
AND ... we thought about what we would do if one of those things should start to happen.

Riding a bike is a dangerous (if rewarding) hobby, and we're some of the most vulnerable vehicles out there. We need to always remember that EVERYBODY out on the road has plans to kill us. And drive like we remember that!

I curse the morons that pull out in front of me ... but I do that after I've made sure I've taken the appropriate response.
 

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Kit has got it 100% right. I've mentioned them before, but I'll do it again. check out Stayin' Safe courses if you want some training in what Kit's talking about: Striving for total awareness of your surroundings, anticipating all the potential hazards, and how to ride to avoid or minimize them.

If you value your life, you'll take 100% responsibility for what happens to you when you get on your bike.
 

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I am truly sorry for the loss of life that sparked this post. I really wish everyone had the oppurtunity to die of old age and not accidents, but that is not how it works. So whether it is a car, truck, motorcycle, boat or freight train nobody is responsible for the vehicle other than the operator. It is called defensive driving, if you hit something it is your fault.
 

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Another thing to add when traveling in oil country or also areas with feedlots. When you're going around a corner or taking an off ramp be aware that there can be liquids to the outside of the curve that can be very slick.:eek:4:
 

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Discussion Starter #19
The purpose of my post was not to place fault with anyone because a lot of these accidents happen when all the parties involved are just going about their jobs and generally driving in a legal manner. In other words, s**t happens and some of it is very bad.

I'm glad others have pointed out other dangerous areas that require extra caution by motorcyclists. It is good to be forewarned.

We have motorcycle accidents almost every week here in an area that maybe had one per summer previously so this is not some joking matter.
 

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We ride a fair amount and non cycle friends ask did you do a lot of sightseeing. My answer always gets real funny looks.
" I ride the cycle like our lives depends on my attention to the road."

I can stop and sightsee when my wife says you gotta see this. I get to look at the hundreds of digital pics she takes and I have a video camera mounted on the left handle bar when I want to re look at the twisties that we just road thru.

If you are not paying strict attention to the road, the ditches, the intersections, the edge of the woods or what ever you will not be happy when C$AP happens. If you are paying attention you will also be planning what would I do if a deer/pig/turkey shows up in the ditch, what will that truck/car do when he gets to the road I am on bet he will run the stop sign, turn in front of me and slow down to turn in a driveway, or god know what but I better be ready.

We called this situiational evaluation, always keep an eye ear on your surroundings and you probably make it thru.

D
 
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