Experienced motorcycle riders will often refer to ‘SIPDE’ as a safety teaching mechanism that has gotten them through some difficult situations on the road. Those of you who are familiar with this acronym will be nodding along in agreement, but if you aren’t familiar with SIPDE, there’s no shame – you’ve come to the right place!
In this quick guide, we’re going to explain how Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute work to keep riders safe in precarious moments. We’ll go through the recommended applications for each letter of the acronym individually, and how to best apply them all throughout your riding career to allow you to enjoy the open road stress-free.
What does SIPDE stand for?
SIPDE stands for “Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute.” It is designed to guide you through motorcycle riding situational awareness, and organized in a fashion that if you follow the letters linearly, you should acclimate yourself to judging risk and avoiding dangerous situations.
Whenever you start riding from a standstill or change your pace, trajectory, or positioning on a road, you should scan. Look for hazards in front, on all sides, and behind you using correct form and mirrors. Similarly, note traffic, road conditions, people around you, and weather factors that might cause any irregularities in your ride.
Typically, the things you scan for will not require a change in behavior or significant action. However, you want to get in the habit of not glossing over risk, so quickly identifying outliers becomes valuable in your SIPDE routine. Sometimes, the combination of two things might present danger when each individual one would be fine alone. An example of this is inclement weather and traffic – they are both things that would keep your ride moderately cautious on their own, but in tandem, they should put you on high alert.
Obviously, we don’t have a crystal ball, but creating a mental range of outcomes well before you have to make a move can literally save your life. If you predict the most likely scenarios for a driver in front of you braking suddenly due to a pedestrian running on a city street (for example), you can then check which direction is safe to go around, or even prep to stop well short. Speed, distance, visibility, and your surroundings all need to be taken into account constantly during the ‘predict’ stage.
Once you have predicted potential trouble spots for your motorcycle ride, you need to decide on what your reaction will be to multiple scenarios. This is where your understanding of the surrounding elements and the time necessary to react safely will be extremely valuable. Like any other high-speed and intense activity, this will become easier with time. You will begin to recognize patterns in how certain dangers play out, but we always want to impart that vigilance is required for any skill level of rider.
Follow your plan decisively when the time comes. Your instincts will typically lead you to safety, especially if you follow each element of SIPDE to develop this move. Use all the tools your bike has to help – brakes, lights, horn, or whatever else is involved to get you to safety. An understated element of execution is acknowledging the difference between indecision and patience. Sometimes, the move is not to panic and overreact, when other times waiting will be dangerous. If you logic your way through all the steps of SIPDE leading into it, you should be able to determine the best course of action more often than not.
Following SIPDE doesn’t guarantee anything, but learning it and applying it creates a strong baseline for motorcycle riding safety. Like any other skill, you will develop it over time and become cognizant of its application in more and more scenarios.
Why is SIPDE Important for Motorcycle Riders?
SIPDE, along with SEE (Search, Evaluate, Execute), are pushed by motorcycle instructors, group ride leaders, and many prominent online motorcycle safety resources. The reality is that many of the elements in these teachings are instinctual or innate for drivers – so why are they so important to actively remember?
These lessons and breaking them down into micro-components are so important because of the gravity of a serious accident and how valuable it is to avoid potential hazards. If you can properly train your brain to stay sharp and look for each of these SIPDE elements as second nature, it will allow you to be a better rider, and stress less during your adventures.
Finally, it goes without saying that if everyone took safety seriously while on the road, the riding community would be better off overall. We’d much rather err on the side of caution and do our part to contribute to a safer road setting. We hope that this guide has illuminated what SIPDE is and how you can use it to be a more complete motorcycle rider.
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