Expert riders know what’s going on around them and act early, responding to potential problems before they become life threatening. They are always prepared for the errors of other drivers and identify possible hazards in advance. Become an expert rider by developing expert judgment. SIPDE is the acronym for a mental strategy used to make sound judgments and reduce risks in traffic. It stands for:
Search aggressively ahead, behind and to the sides for potential hazards. What you don’t detect can hurt you! Scan aggressively to recognize problems before they become critical. Keep your eyes moving in a purposeful search for information.
An aggressive search will allow you to identify hazards and potential conflicts early. Hazards fall into the following three categories:
- Other vehicles – traffic sharing the road with you. Your reactions to other vehicles are critical.
- Pedestrians and animals – they move unpredictably and, depending on their size, can create an imposing hazard.
- Fixed hazards – stationary objects near and alongside the roadway, surface hazards, signs and signals, guardrails, bridges, etc. They don’t move, but failing to recognize them can be hazardous.
Once you’ve identified the hazard, the next step is to quickly predict what it will do. How critical is the situation? What are your options? What are the consequences? Will the hazards separate or is action required? Is collision imminent? This is the “what if” phase of SIPDE that depends upon your knowledge, experience and skill. An agressive search has presented you with critical information – be prepared to act on it!
The next step calls for decisions based upon your prediction. Complete the “what if” phase to estimate results. What are you going to do, and how are you going to do it? In any situation, you have three choices:
- Adjust speed – speed up, slow down or stop.
- Adjust position – move left or right.
- Communicate – sound your horn, flash your brake light or headlights, signal, etc.
Act on your decision. This is the physical part of the SIPDE process. Now is the time to apply your skills:
- Adjust speed – roll on or off throttle, brake or downshift for greater acceleration.
- Adjust position – press left or right.
- Communicate – press the horn button, flash the lights, etc.