Stayin’ Safe: Fueling Risk

gas station
With multiple entrances and vehicles constantly flowing in and out, a busy gas station is one of the most foreboding intersections a rider will encounter.

Intersections are the most common sites of motorcycle crashes involving other vehicles. You probably knew that. Oncoming vehicles turning left across the path of the unsuspecting motorcyclist and drivers pulling into the rider’s lane from a side street are serious risks to the street rider. The astute motorcyclist approaches intersections with anticipation and minimizes risk by adjusting position and speed to create precious space and time.

But what does an intersection look like? Not all traffic junctions are traditional four-way crossroads. In developed areas, the local gas station may be the busiest and most frenetic intersection in town–especially those biggie-sized gas/convenience stores popping up everywhere.

Unlike the traditional intersection where vehicle drivers have limited turning options, the gas station has multiple entrances and exits as well as undefined paths of travel within the fueling compound. This creates a free-for-all and challenges the rider to determine where any given threat may come from.

Avoidance begins before you get there. Look for gas stations in the distance. Actively scan for vehicles on the highway that may turn across your lane, while also scanning for vehicles moving within the fuel stop that could present a moving threat.

Be aware there are multiple things demanding a driver’s attention near gas stations. Other vehicles entering and exiting, the flow of highway traffic and even intangibles like concerns of being late for work. All of these make a rider even less noticeable to motorists.

Consider the busiest times of day for gas station traffic. Early morning can be particularly hectic as folks fill up on fuel and coffee on their way to work. As vehicles move in and out of traffic, be aware that the sun can be blinding when it’s low in the sky, potentially hiding your bike in the glare.

Just passing by? Anticipate ingress and egress movement and have an escape plan. Slow your approach and, when safe, accelerate out of the danger zone. When turning into a station, assess the scene and plan your clearest path in and around the pumps, parked cars, fuel puddles and plodding vehicles before you get into the middle of it all.

By pumping a few gallons of high-octane strategy into your ride and topping up your awareness level, you’ll be able to safely manage one of the busiest intersections found on any ride. Isn’t that a gas?

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