Richard Gladman - IAM RoadSmart's head of driving and riding standards
SMIDSY or “sorry mate I didn’t see you”, a well-known term in the world of motorcyclists and all too common in the vocabulary of drivers. How can we avoid being on either side of this statement? IAM RoadSmart groups are often criticised for the image of “High Viz” jackets, but understanding how to be conspicuous on a motorcycle goes well beyond that.
As a driver who is looking at a junction or roundabout you often see what you expect to see. A motorcycle even with its headlamps on can merge into the background traffic, and the movement straight towards you can be difficult to spot. If, as drivers, we recognise this we may allow a bit more time to look for bikes and we may just save a life or at least a few grey hairs!
As a biker when you realise how hard it is for you to be seen you may recognise that positioning away from the junction, being aware of your backdrop (is your headlamp is in line with the ones on the car behind you?), and dare I say it in some cases, wearing high-viz or bright clothing may just weight the odds in your favour. It may not be to everyone’s taste but pink is visible against most backdrops whereas traditional yellow can disappear against an autumnal backdrop.
I recall hearing a driver on commentary in a car saying “he’s seen me.” The other driver immediately started a U-turn, he had actually seen the house number he was looking for, and we very nearly made driving into a contact sport. How about asking questions from both sides, so as a rider: will he pull out and if he does what can I do?”, and as a driver: “there’s my gap where’s the bike?”. Maybe we can coin a new phrase of SMART “Saw a Motorcyclist And Reacted Today.”