Hazard-Oriented Vision (HOV)
I wrote in one of the early posts in Street Smart that I had safety riding concept that had so far seen me safely. Many people had requested for me to share my safety riding concept. A major part of it is HOV. So here it is.
HOV is used by UK Traffic Police
I first chance upon it when reading an advanced riding manual which is also used by the UK Traffic Police. I have forgotten its original name. Now I called it Hazard-Oriented-Vision, HOV for short, pronounced “Hor-f”, which is more intuitive.
What is HOV? What are its Benefits?
Look at the examples and you will understand.
Why is it that the Bat can fly in the dark and not bang into the wall?
It is because bat has a form of radar. Without this radar, the bat will blindly collide into obstacles in its path. Just like some motorcycle riders do in many accidents.
With this radar, the bat will be warned in advanced and be able to avoid these obstacles.
Another parallel is the above plane, an AWACS (Advanced Warning Airborne Control System). Its radar can detect threats even when they are far far away. With this ability, the AWACS can warn the friendly forces and buy for them extra time so that they can react accordingly to the threats. The idea of HOV is the same.
Overview of HOV
HOV functions just like AWACS. Except that we rely on our vision instead of radio waves.
HOV is the continuous process of watching out for hazards when we are riding.
The process within HOV is also very simple:
1. Scan for hazards continuously
2. Identify hazards
3. Prepare to react to hazards
4. React to hazard
Step 1: Scan for Hazards Continuously
The Concept of Hazards
What constitute hazards? They are anything that potentially can bring about harm to you the rider. Examples include the appearance of a car waiting at the minor road to enter into the main road which you are on, a child standing at the tip of the pavement or heavy traffic up ahead. Many examples of hazards can be found in the Street Smart posts.
For ease of understanding and remembering, hazards can categorized them into the following:
2. Other Road Users
5. Your Bike and Equipment
6. Your Self
How to scan for hazards?
Scan both vertically (near-far) and horizontally (left-right).
Scan Near-Far. You need to scan for hazards immediately in front of you, as well as
as far as your eye and the terrain allow you to see. The further you can scan, the more time you have to react upon identification of hazards.
Scan Left-Right. Not only do you need to scan for hazards appearing within your own lane, you also need to scan for hazards on the lanes immediately left and right of your own lane.
The other key word in this step is CONTINOUSLY. This requires you to be alert and focused on the task of scanning through out your ride and on every ride. Be like the fighter pilot who is flying in hostile sky scanning for enemy planes or missiles.
Step 2: Identify Hazards
If you do your scanning properly, you will be like this radar. Hazards soon turn up on your radar screen.
Once you have identified the hazards, you need to track them carefully to see if they materialize into real threats.
You may need to track multiple hazards to handle at the same time.
Step 3: Prepare to React to Hazards
After you have spotted potential hazards, it is useless if you do not start to prepare yourself in case the hazard materializes into a real threat. You need to plan in advanced on how to react to the high-threat hazards in a way that will not compromise your safety. If you do not plan in advanced, then a spontaneous but inappropriate reaction may put you into harm’s way.
What do I mean by “Prepare to React”?
It will depend on the hazard and exact scenario.
It could mean:
- You stop accelerating or even slow down, so that you can brake in time.
- Positioning your bike so you can be seen, clear sufficient braking distance in front and behind
- Do a Finger-7. Left thumb on horn button and left index finger on high beam.
Step 4: React to Hazard
When you think the hazard is going to turn real, you then activate your planned reaction to the hazard.
HOV is a skill and not just a concept. It is easy to understand the concept of HOV so far, but being able to be proficient in using it is another matter.
To help you implement HOV, the following training is useful.
Basically, it requires you to talk to yourself when you identify the hazards on the road. As you ride on the road, for example, you say to yourself, “Car waiting at cross junction”, “Taxi in front may suddenly stop”, “Pedestrian waiting at payment to cross road”, etc.
Instead of just thinking in your head, talking to yourself is a far more effective means to force you to explicitly concentrate on scanning and identifying hazards. The key is you must physically move your mouth.
If you just start on HOV, I advise using commentary riding for every ride for 1 month. Extend if necessary until you get the hang of HOV.
Advanced Riding School in UK also Practices Commentary Riding
In the UK, there are ex-TP private instructors conducting advanced riding school. They equip a small convoy of student riders with radio sets each. The instructor then leads the ride and gives his commentary so every student can hear his commentary on their radio sets. The student then takes turn to lead and give commentary.
Myths of HOV
1. If you really implement HOV, it is going to make you a tortise on the road.
If I am a slow rider, I do not think that I would be riding a 1000cc sports bike. I also do not think that I would have accumulated 6 demerit points for speeding.
2. HOV is for beginner riders only.
HOV is an advanced riding skill. It can only be learnt if the basics such as E-Brake are learnt. In UK and US, HOV is taught as part of the syllabus of some advanced riding schools. Also, HOV is taught as part of the UK Traffic Police training.
3. HOV makes riding less fun..
HOV has made my riding so much more enjoyable and rewarding. Because:
- HOV makes riding more enjoyable because it is now safer.
HOV significantly increases riding safety because now you are being proactive.
- You are constantly rewarded.
Each time you are able to anticipate hazards, you feel happy and good.
You also get satisfaction from being able to anticipate faster than other riders and drivers.
- HOV makes riding a constant learning process full of new lessons to learn
If you are the sort who enjoy going into a little technicalities of motorcycling, then HOV promises lots of learning opportunities!
4. You only need 1 day to learn HOV
You only need 15 minutes to read this article.
You need 1 week to reflect on its meaning.
You need 1 year to practice HOV before it becomes second nature.
As long as you diligently implement HOV, it is there for a lifetime to protect you.
Other Points about HOV
1. HOV is not the complete and sole answer to motorcycle safety.
HOV is useful because it is a PROACTIVE safety system. It complements and requires the PASSIVE safety system such as Ride Bright, Ride Visible.
Vice versa, if one relies solely on passive safety system, then one is missing out defense against the whole list of hazards that HOV is designed to react to.
HOV forms the defensive shield for riders when they are in the act of riding. But a big part of defense is before the riding actually commences.
2. HOV is as good as the rider is.
As much as I would like to guarantee you that after learning HOV and you will be completely safe, I am unable to. Because the responsibility lies in your own hand to properly use HOV to get yourself out of danger.
3. HOV complements and utilizes the Street Smart information
Many posts in Street Smart identifies the common hazards.
Understanding HOV allows you to better understand, remember and use this body of knowledge of hazards.
As mentioned earlier, a critical part of HOV is the need to be able identify the common hazards and how to react to them.