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MCN  says:

The rules: See and be seen

No one has to worry more about seeing high-speed objects than a fighter pilot. Closing speeds with other aircraft can be well over 1000mph. Any miscalculation, even for a fraction of a second, can be fatal. Group Captain John Sullivan is a Royal Air Force pilot with over 4000 hours’ flight experience, including in the 1991 Gulf War. Much of his...

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  • Posted 2 years ago (20 December 2012 10:58)

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Dec 12

Posts: 1454

Diablere says:

all good advice but

i taught several fighter pilots in my days as a motorcycle instructor, and they were in honesty very attentive learners but a motorbike isn't a fighter plane, and in fairness the chances of hitting another vehicle in the air is far far less than it is on the ground! and the biggest problem with fighter pilots as road users is they spend far to much time looking around instead of AHEAD. a direction we can all agree is the most important! an interesting article from comparision point of view only. i've never been able to move a road so that i don't have the sun behind me yet!

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Nov 08

Posts: 122

rcraven says:

Be seen

Worry when a driver has not seen you but just as importantly worry when you believe that he has.  A motorcycle is so small the driver of another vehicle will have difficulty in  assessing its speed towards him. called looming.  A bus being so large and at distance will almost imediately begin to loom or otherwise  appear bigger the closer it gets but a motorcyclist doesnt.

Always presume that you have not been seen and  keep a wary eye on any vehicle you are approaching and not happy with and take defensive action straight away. Dont wait. move away from it and slow, be prepared to brake harder if necessary or avoid it  other ways without increasing the risk of an accident with anything else. Its no use waking up in hospital and saying well i was in the right or the driver looked straight at me.  it doesnt work that way.

Some would argue that swerving [ steering from side to side] will help break up your  contour from your background and therefore  make you more visible . There is no doubt the doubters will poo poo this article but those who realise that  some knoweldege of how we view things on the road is of value... will generally live longer.

Lets not forget that a fighter pilot takes many years of  training in  order that he can fulfill his role in defence of himself and his plane  worth in exsess of £60.000.000 and so he  receives  instructions on visiblility   that can be of use to all on the road.        

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Feb 09

Posts: 13

rdo350 says:

peripheral vision is fantastic!

use peripheral vision to track the movement of vehicles around you in traffic. Turning your head slightly can show you that car about to cut you up whilst still allowing you to check the one in front hasn't stopped!

Basic driving/motorcycle instruction will tell you to keep your vision up, look where you want to be in a bend -  you will see that drain cover in your peripheral vision.

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Sep 09

Posts: 406


What a banal comparison? "Coz jets r fast n bikes r too" MCN what are you doing copying BBC/Daily Fail style journalism? The advice in the article is surely just for car users pulling out of road junctions.

A jet fighter pilot is only focussed on a very narrow field of view directly infront of him at those kind of speeds. Yes a pilot can look to the sides, but his options for moving away from straight ahead and very fast are virtually nil. There isnt much you can fly into up there you know.

I use observation ALL the time by turning my head to physically look. I do not rely on peripheral vision for road manouvers. Using peripheral vision will get you killed. I constantly scan all around me even when there is no other traffic visible.

When you get more experienced on the road you can try moving your head slightly when looking straight ahead so your eyes give your brain more data by just sligthly changing your eyes view. There are times on the road when you need to move forward/accelerate to get yourself into a position where you can be seen by other road users. Slowing down can sometimes have the reverse effect when cars assume you have slowed down to let them pull out.

The most important part is to train yourself to look !!

I agree with one thing in the article, that car drivers arent expecting to see a bike at road junctions, because they don't look for bikes. Positively ancient bike safety principle.

As for being seen? We can ride round with headlights on main beam, wearing dayglow safety suits and a Christmas tree with flashing lights stuck on our eads and car drivers still will not see us. Car drivers not looking for bikes was and still is the problem.

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Jan 11

Posts: 115

luckyskua says:


You are over confident - at sometime you will buzz the tower when the station commander is watching.

Fighter pilots don't 'look' for targets - they use the radar, that's what its there for numpty.
If you have a mid-air, you won't see the other plane that's why you hit it.
You are accident prone - sooner or later you will break your arm playing British bulldogs in the mess.

Shouldn't mock really, there are some interesting points here. Although one of the scariest rides I had was with some new 1000 riders, they were up past the ton on the open road but down to 40 going past a side junction (their right of way) how I didn't rear end them I don't know. 'Safe' riding means doing a lot but doesn't always make for a safe ride. I have found the best policy for gaining the attention of a dozy driver is to swerve 'away' from them. So if one was waiting to pull out of a side road (SMIDSY) I would steer toward the other side of the road [when safe] to increase the distance between us. Two effects - if they do pull out you still have room to stop and your initial swerve attracts their attention (movement).

[This Reply has been modified by the Author]

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Jun 07

Posts: 89

Harry44 says:

I agree with Luckyskua. When aproaching junctions if you change your position on the road you make your image move across the other drivers retina, so he sees a moving image.

And as said elsewhere it's easier to spot a moving object rather than a looming one.

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Sep 10

Posts: 1323

SatNavSteve says:

You don't tell us how much experience he has with motorcycles. Obviously being a Group Captain he is highly ranked and respected in the RAF but if he flew Jaguars, he's obviously not up to speed with modern stuff, even Tornados are old hat as we have Typhoons. My point being that motorcycling has moved on in technology and roadcraft and roads are far more saturated with vehicles and so skills need to adapt. All this advice is really a bit too deep for most people. The simple way to think about it is trust no-one and ride defensively to the best of your abilities and don't ride so fast as to be unable to stop or swerve if a hazard appears. Its worked for me for 40 years, apart from one guy who did a u turn into me without looking or signalling. I was lucky, no broken bones but a written off 2 month old bike. That is a sad fact about motorcycling in that there are some accidents you can't avoid or predict but thats the chance you take as a road user. Happy and a safe New Year to everyone who contributes on this site.

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Sep 12

Posts: 124

Rotop says:


Even typhoons are getting old now with the F35B/ Lightning/ JCA I think the big difference is CLOUDS AREN'T DRIVEN BY IDIOTS.

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Oct 11

Posts: 2662

Piglet2010 says:


To take the comparison further, jet fighters are equipped with missiles to shoot down unfriendly aircraft, so motorcycles should be equipped with missiles to shoot unfriendly cars.  ; )

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Feb 05

Posts: 223

Bob_1 says:

My Safety - My Responsibility

The only problem with this article is the "be seen" part which could suggest a rider hands responsibility for his or her safety to someone else. I NEVER assume that I've been seen, always act as if you have NOT been seen and you will live longer. Even if you have eye-to-eye contact with a driver sitting in a side road, for example, you can't be sure his brain's actually registered that you're there and that he's not day dreaming while driving on auto pilot. It's worth repeating, NEVER ASSUME.

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