Motorcycle riders have to be far more vigilant about their safety on the road than car drivers. This is not only because they occupy a much smaller space on the road but also because other drivers often fail to take extra care when sharing the road with a motorcycle.
Driving at night is one of the best ways of enjoying your motorcycle although it can also be very dangerous. You have to factor in reduced visibility into your riding so that other vehicles on the road can see you and avoid you if they have to. Ultimately, you want to avoid unnecessary accidents even if you are able to claim compensation for motorcycle injuries.
This article gives you some helpful tips to keep you safe when riding your motorcycle at night.
The importance of being seen cannot be over-emphasized. Motorcycles can be safe on the road at day or night time if they have a good presence. Although your motorcycle is half the size of a typical SUV, there are plenty of ways you can make yourself more visible so that you occupy a larger space in the road.
The most common cause of fatalities involving motorcycles is down to the fact motorists make left turns into the path of a bike they haven’t spotted in their mirrors. Many car drivers glance in these mirrors just briefly before making a maneuver and so you want to be sure you catch their eye, particularly at night.
Other types of common motorcycle accidents include rear-end collisions and incidents at junctions or intersections. The following tips will show you how to increase your presence on the road so that you reduce the risk of a collision significantly, especially when it’s dark.
The most obvious way to be seen on the road at nighttime is to wear bright, reflective clothing. Although black leather biking gear looks really cool during the day, at night it becomes almost impossible to see.
There are plenty of options when it comes to buying reflective motorcycle clothing, with a wide range of high-visibility and light-coloured items for people of all shapes and sizes. Fluorescent colours are particularly good for high-visibility as they absorb short wavelength light that’s not visible to the human eye and re-radiates the light across a longer wavelength so that it can be clearly seen at night.
Helmets and gloves also offer another chance to introduce retro-reflective or fluorescent colours and improve visibility in low-lighting. If you don’t want to invest in a load of new gear, you can buy patches and strips of high-visibility fabric and attach them to the clothing you already have.
Your motorcycle’s lights and a crucial safety factor and yet some manufacturers used undersized lenses in order to improve the design. Although this leads to a better-looking bike, it can be hard to indicate what maneuver you want to make when your lights can’t be seen properly. Many car drivers complain that bikers fail to indicate until the last opportunity whereas in fact they probably just can’t see the bike’s lights properly.
Some motorcycles are designed to have the headlight aimed low to the street and sometimes it can be below the legal angle allowed. When the headlight is aimed too low it narrows your field of vision when riding at night. If you examine your bike and see the headlight is tilted too low, you can usually adjust it quite easily.
Lights that are too small can be cheaply replaced and it’s worth considering buying a super bright LED for your bike as it is much brighter than a standard auto light. Halogen brake lights can also be bought at low cost and they are around 30% brighter than most auto bulbs. The kind of lighting you invest in depends on your budget although it is important not to skimp when it comes to ensuring your safety on the road.
It’s worth using as many ways of indicating your intention on the road including using the hand signals you learned for motorcycling. Extending your arm to direct your intention to turn left or right whilst wearing high-visibility clothing and gloves will ensure the vehicles behind and in front of you know exactly what you’re going to do.
There’s always a reason we’re taught something when learning how to ride a motorcycle. Many people might not understand why hand signals are necessary when we have lights but motorcycles need to make their presence known on the road as many ways as they can. The number of accidents caused by car drivers not being aware of a motorcycle’s intention to make a turning is significant.
When making hand signals, make sure you maintain control of your bike and don’t remove your hands from the handlebars when you are in the process of turning.
When motorcycles are being followed by vehicles that are getting too close to them, they often tap their brake lights to make themselves extra visible at night. It’s also an international way of telling the car behind to back off from tailgating. Many people become impatient with motorcycles because they don’t feel they should have priority over them on the road. Unfortunately, it’s necessary to make it plain that the car behind you is threatening your safety.
When driving at night you want to see as much of the road ahead as possible. Many car drivers use their high beam headlights when there isn’t approaching traffic to light the way ahead better. Motorcycles can also do this to increase frontal visibility but it’s important to do so only when it is safe. High beam headlights directly into the eyes of another driver are a particular hazard you want to avoid creating.
Many motorcyclists use headlight modulators for night riding. These are electronic components you can have fitted to your motorcycle to enable the headlights to pulse or flicker at varying rates of intensity. Although they can be annoying to drivers of other vehicles, they undoubtedly improve visibility by drawing attention to your motorcycle.
It is important to check the legality of using headlight modulators in your state although they are legal in 50 at the current time. Modulators should comply with a certain standard of specification and this should be checked before investing in them.
Perhaps the most obvious way of drawing attention to your motorcycle on the road is to use your horn if you have to. Although it may be inappropriate to make noise during the night, your life is important and so if you need to make it know you’re there, sound your horn. Even though a car stereo being too loud may prevent motorists from hearing your horn, your decision to press it could make a massive difference to your safety.
In the majority of cases, motorcyclists get involved in accidents as a result of not being seen by motorists. Although to some extent the onus is on the motorcyclist to make sure they can be clearly seen during the day or night, motorists also have a responsibility. Many people believe that all motorists should attend a short-course in motorcycling so that they understand the safety issues they face.
Keeping safe on the road is much harder for a motorcyclist although the rewards are well worth it. The above tips are simple to put into action and will improve your safety significantly so that you can get more enjoyment from motorcycling. It’s unfortunate that motorcyclists have to be extra-vigilant about their safety but the feeling of riding on the open road really is unbeatable.
There are some specific hazards that you should be more aware of when riding your motorcycle at night including the following:
- Drunk drivers: aside from the obvious challenge of visibility, motorcycling at night can pose extra risks from drunk drivers. According to research, car drivers are much more likely to have consumed alcohol before getting behind the wheel rather than motorcyclists. In 2016, almost half of all fatalities involving alcohol and motorcycles occurred between the hours of 9 pm and 3 am.
- Hidden Obstacles: It is obviously harder to see if there are any hazards in the road at night time. Potholes, debris, loose gravel and manholes are just some of the obstructions that might threaten the safety of road users, particularly at night.
- Animals: There are many different types of animals that wander around at night depending on where you are. Domestic pets who have strayed from home or wildlife scavenging for food can all become obstructions on the road. In many cases, an animal will turn towards any sound they hear and then their eyes are reflected in a vehicle’s lights. This makes it possible to spot an animal in the road before you hit it.
- Limited visibility: As mentioned a few times above, limited visibility is possibly the biggest cause of accidents involving motorcycles. Whether it’s the motorcycle that can’t be seen or something causing an obstruction a motorcyclist can’t see, visibility is a significant safety factor. Riding your motorcycle while you’re tired will always be even more challenging in the dark and so it’s worth putting your safety first and finding another way of getting where you want to be.