The “What If” game, or “It’s OK to be the Eternal Pessimist”.

Today, I’m going to talk about a game I like to play while riding.
Now, granted, I may be easily amused, and it may never take the place of the License Plate Game, but this one may just keep you out of some nasty situations, and help keep the rubber side down on your beloved scooter.

It’s called the “What if” game, and it goes like this: As I’m riding along, I’m continually assessing what is going on all round me, and asking myself various “What if…” questions. For example:

 

  • What if that car pulls out from that junction in front of me?
  • What if this person next to me hasn’t seen me, and pulls over into my lane?
  • What if that car waiting to exit the gas station pulls out in front of that other car three cars ahead?
  • What if that person sitting in the stationary car opens their door?
  • I’m in the second (left) lane of traffic, and there’s a car waiting to come out from that restaurant on the right. There seems to be a gap developing. What if the car in the right lane flashes to let him out?

You get the idea.

Now, it turns out that there’s a physical aspect to this game too (you don’t get that with the license plate game).
Each of those scenarios above will prompt an action on my part.

You see, good defensive riding involves not only reacting to threats and hazards that are happening, but also reacting to threats and hazards that may develop.
These connections between what is currently happening, and what may potentially happen as a result are called Observation Links, and they are so important that they will be the entire subject of an upcoming post.

So, what action would each of the scenarios above prompt me to take? I will go through them individually.

  • What if that car pulls out from that junction in front of me?
    I will do a quick mirror check to see how any actions I may take will affect following traffic (I don’t want to be slamming on the brakes if there’s a vehicle following closely behind).
    I will move into a position that ensures I am clearly visible to the driver.
    I will reposition myself in my lane to create a “buffer zone”.
    I will look for my escape route.
    I will consider sounding my horn to get the driver’s attention.
  • What if this person next to me hasn’t seen me, and pulls over into my lane?
    I will check my mirrors to see what effect any action I take will have on the following traffic.
    I will make sure I’m not riding in that driver’s blind spot by accelerating or decelerating.
    I will reposition myself in my lane to create a “buffer zone”.
    I will look for my escape route.
    I will consider sounding my horn to let the driver know I am there.
  • What if that car waiting to exit the gas station pulls out in front of that other car three cars ahead?
    I will consider gently decelerating to make sure I have a good, adequate gap between myself and the vehicle in front should things get “interesting”. See following distance.
    I will reposition myself in my lane to (taking account of the traffic in front) make sure that the driver can clearly see me among the traffic.
    I will check my mirrors to see what the situation is behind me.
    I will look for my escape route, should that driver pull out and cause all vehicles in front of me to come to an abrupt halt.
  • What if that person sitting in the stationary car opens their door?
    I will reposition myself in my lane to give extra space between myself and the car.
  • I’m in the second (left) lane of traffic, and there’s a car waiting to come out from that restaurant on the right. There seems to be a gap developing. What if the car in the right lane flashes to let him out?
    I will check my mirrors to see what affect any actions I may take will have on following vehicles.
    I will reposition myself in my lane (in this case to the left) for two reasons: Firstly, to give myself a buffer zone and, secondly to make sure the driver can see me – and I can see them – at the earliest opportunity should he take the invitation to come across the right lane, and then continue into my lane.
    I will look for my escape route.
    I will seriously consider sounding my horn to let all drivers involved know that I am there – for this one is quite high on the threat level!

Defensive riding involves not only reacting to threats and hazards that are happening, but also reacting to threats and hazards that may develop.

Now, although this may seem like a lot of thinking and analysing to be doing while you’re scooting down for your Saturday morning doughnuts – your head full of your upcoming trip with the kids, or that less-than-stellar appraisal you got at work yesterday – it really is something that takes a lot more explaining than actually doing.
It really will become an automatic process in short order.
Besides, it’s a great way to put all other thoughts out of your head for a while, and isn’t that one of the wonderful things about scootering?

Just one final thought before I leave you for today:
Scanning your surroundings for hazards – or potential hazards – is a continuous, ongoing activity. Your concentration will shift and change as new hazards will vie for your attention and possibly take precedence over previous ones.
That is how it should be. Do not fall into the trap of Hazard Fixation, where you concentrate your attention so much on one potential hazard, that you miss entirely the one that’s just about to slap you upside the head!

Yes, you guessed it, Hazard Fixation is going to be the subject of an upcoming post.

Until next time, Scoot Safely!


If you enjoy these posts, please subscribe to be notified when new content is posted.

I hope you find these posts useful. If you do, please consider supporting, while gaining access to all this information, and more, by purchasing: Proficient Scootering - The Comprehensive Guide to Safe, Efficient and Enjoyable Scooter Riding. It's available for all e-readers and in print.

2 thoughts on “The “What If” game, or “It’s OK to be the Eternal Pessimist”.

  1. These are great safety tips! Today,I’m in the second (left) lane of traffic, and there’s a car waiting to come out from that restaurant on the right. There seems to be a gap developing. What if the car in the right lane flashes to let him out?
    I repositioned myself so the car saw me in the left hand lane..She acknowledged me and all was cool. That is probably, for the scooter rider, one of the most dangerous traffic scenarios.

    awesome advice,

    Mark

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *