Usually, at least in my experience, I see the most collisions during the start of a race.
Once the race starts and the person in front of me moves, I wait 5 seconds before I move. Also, I never clip my shoes in until we are past the point of congestion. It's a pain the rear, but worth it.
If you're a new rider, be familiar with calling out where you are when you're approaching someone. A friendly "on your right" or "on your left" alerts someone you are coming up. Pointing out road debris, potholes, loose gravel, etc. are also helpful ways to keep the ride friendly and safe.
Get fast enough to be in the front, scout so you know where things could go bad and go into that area being vigilant and ready, and accept that at some point... you'll be in a crash at some point no matter what you do, where you're at, etc. It happens to everyone at some point.
Definitely VOICE what you are doing when you're in the pack so others know where you are and where you're going... Donna is "spot on" with that recommendation!
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