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Thread: close shave

  1. #1
    Registered User rickyd's Avatar
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    close shave

    I just got back from a 4500 mile trip out west. Took in the Badlands Park and then crashed the Harley party at Sturgis. I crossed the Black Hills into WY then through Casper and Laramie to go south into CO. I had always wanted to do the Trail Ridge Parkway and the views didnÔÇÖt disappoint. Fortunately I got beautiful weather up there and with the narrow road, steep drop offs, no guard rails, and strong winds above 12,000 ft it was really a thrill.

    There was an incident on the way home which IÔÇÖd like to relate. I was headed east on I80 in Iowa. It was just past the flooded Skunk River. It was surprising to see what looked like lakes until you saw the roofs of cars and half submerged houses in the middle of them. Anyway, further a long there was a pick-up towing a camping trailer with a serious fish tailing problem. The fish tail was intermittent but started to get so bad that I could smell the burning rubber from its tires. Me and the other traffic were slowing to stay out of this guys way. Finally he got hold of it and regained control. I was trying to make time and decided to pass the rig when it was safe so that if something happened it would happen behind me. As I approached he passed another vehicle and was accelerating to better than 75-80 mph. I decided then that this guy was clueless and that I didnÔÇÖt want to be side by side with him for even an instant. I slowed in the left lane and let him go on ahead in the right lane. Sure enough the trailer started to swerve again and this time there was no holding it back. With me about 50 yds behind him the trailer swerved hard to the right digging up a bunch of dirt from beyond the shoulder. The rear of the pick-up lost traction so it was now pointing to the left and in an instant shot across my lane into the grass median strip and into a ditch where both truck and trailer flipped over violently.
    I couldnÔÇÖt pull over because of traffic coming from behind. By the time I made the shoulder I was a good quarter of a mile down the road. Drivers in the west bound lane were stopping at the scene and I figured there wasnÔÇÖt much I could do. The ditch in the median strip was the only thing that prevented the rig from going into the opposite lanes. I always thought that ditch was for drainage but it sure worked to prevent an even greater disaster.

    Not sure if thereÔÇÖs a lesson to be learned from this except that if you see a vehicle with an unstable trailer in tow give him a very wide berth.

  2. #2
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    Good judgement!

    Applies to bike, too. Earlier this year saw some folks on Harleys towing some sort of boxy 2 wheel trailers headed to Bike Week. Looked homemade but perhaps not. Anyway, those things were swaying like crazy behind the bikes in the high winds going over the bridges in our area that day. Didn't see them crash out but I gave them a real wide berth while watching the swaying get worse as they slowed down to try to deal with it. It is at the moment of slowing that danger of losing it is highest. Acceleration or an uphill grade can lead the unwary to believe that the thing they're towing has just gained stability - downhills and decel are where it bites.

    Tire smell or tire smoke from anything is natures way of telling you something bad is imminent.

  3. #3
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    Those ditches are also known as "tank traps" - and they do frequently stop rolling vehicles.
    Beware: cops like to hide down there too.

  4. #4
    Registered User MOTOR31's Avatar
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    The ONLY time you are in total control about the distance between you and another vehicle on the road is when you are behind them. It's better to pull off to the side and let them get a ways ahead of you rather than pass an unsafe vehicle situation.
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  5. #5
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motor31 View Post
    The ONLY time you are in total control about the distance between you and another vehicle on the road is when you are behind them. It's better to pull off to the side and let them get a ways ahead of you rather than pass an unsafe vehicle situation.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  6. #6
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    I have found it best to consider any private trailer combo as an imminent hazard, and give them a very wide berth. Far too many are seldom used, and therefore improperly attached and/or operated. I put rent-a-trucks in the same category, BTW.
    I did have a boat and trailer detach in front of me (two up) on a busy fast urban freeway. Response to this reminded me a bit of playing pool; predicting the objects trajectory and timing, and adjusting my own. This was one of those many situations where it is not your brakes which save you, but rather your steering and throttle. I saw and followed the path away from and around the object, rather than focusing on the object. Passenger noticed nothing until it was already over.

  7. #7
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jforgo View Post
    I have found it best to consider any private trailer combo as an imminent hazard, and give them a very wide berth. Far too many are seldom used, and therefore improperly attached and/or operated. I put rent-a-trucks in the same category, BTW.
    very good advice. i put motorhomes in that category, too... especially those pulling trailers.

  8. #8
    Seattle-area Rounder OfficerImpersonator's Avatar
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    I'm amazed that you need a specific license/endorsement to ride a 500 lb. motorcycle, but no specific license/endorsement to drive a 40,000 lb. "recreational vehicle".

    Here in Washington State, you need a special endorsement to ride a trike or a hack. But no special endorsement is required to drive a 40'/40,000 lb RV pulling a 25'/8,000 lb. boat trailer.

    I think that's complete and total insanity.
    Seattle, WA
    2012 R1200GSA
    2002 R1150RT-P
    1992 K75S sold

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