Friday 4 December, 2020

Driving instructor explains bike rider's fatal flaw

Scene of the accident

Scene of the accident

"As a rider or driver, you plan your demise when you don't plan for other road users."

So says Kingston Jean, Defensive Driving Instructor at Sir Arthur Lewis Community College and Secretary of the National Association of Driving Schools.

Jean spoke to Loop News reacting to the fatal head-on collision between a motorcycle rider and a minibus that occurred on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, near the True Value hardware store along the Vieux-Fort/Laborie Highway.

Photo posted by the deceased to his Facebook page earlier this year

The accident claimed the life of Andy Jn Baptiste, also known as 'Taco', a 23-years-old from Cedar Heights, Vieux Fort.

Video footage of what occurred just prior to the accident and of the accident itself has circulated online.

"I watched the video involving the young man on the motorcycle who collided with the minibus on Tuesday afternoon, several times. The young man was properly geared up to ride the motorcycle, however, I spotted a major flaw in his riding strategy," said Jean.

He continued: "Only one person is responsible for your life and that's you. You can't go around thinking someone else will do the right thing when it comes to your safety, especially on a motorcycle. If he was riding with the 'what-if' factor in mind, he would have slowed down as he approached this busy intersection."

"You can't be driving or riding assuming the other driver will pull aside in time for you, to make it through. You can't assume the person at the intersection will see you. One should always ride as if they are invisible to other road users," Jean said.

In the video footage, a pickup turns on to the road causing Jn Baptiste, who was riding at high speed, to swerve to avoid it. He manages to do so but ends up colliding with a minibus, connecting with significant impact.

Kingston Jean

"I highly suspect in this video the pickup driver did look but the bike was very far away at the time and may not have been able to see him at the distance he was at. Or if he did see him, the riders speed might have been misjudged," said Jean.

Jean notes that: "It is more important to ride and drive with strategy rather than skill. Not that skill is not important, but a good strategy to avoid collisions is even more important. 

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If he was riding with certain rules set by himself for himself, such as reducing his speed upon approaching a junction, I am sure we would not be discussing him today."

Jean explained what he thinks happened: "After the rider cleared past the pickup van, he rode on the right side of the road straight into the oncoming minibus. I suspect after missing the pickup, the rider panicked and froze, therefore going into a state of what we call target fixation. This is where the rider is fixated on the obstacle and as a result rides into it."

Jean concluded: "All he had to do is look where he wanted to go. Away from the bus and the bike would go where he was looking. This is also true for driving. Always have an escape plan in case of anything. His escape plan should have been to reduce on speed at the intersection."

Former Saint Lucia Moto X Club president, Terrol Compton, assessed the situation differently, telling Loop News yesterday: "Someone caused this young man to wave, yes we can look at the matter of speed and say speed is a factor. There are many factors, a minor road getting into a major road is a major factor and we see that in many of these all around St Lucia."

Compton said: "If only one had used due care and attention, you have to make sure that area is clear before you cut across because he (the pickup) is actually going across a lane, which gives the right to the person who is traversing in the flow of traffic."

Jean's final words on the subject were: "This was so sad to see a young man like this die this way. I am trusting that others will learn from this and change their riding style."

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