Safety Information

Motorcycles and Visibility (Sep 2008 newsletter)

by Ted and Joyce Strutz

How many times have you heard of a car-motorcycle crash and the driver of the car states he didn't see the motorcycle? It would be nice if all drivers would expect to see motorcycles at any time and search aggressively for them. Just as we do for possible problems from drivers who are not paying attention.

The majority of car-motorcycle accidents happen at intersections. Most generally, the car will turn left in front of a moving bike. If the rider is unable to avoid the accident or stop in time, the rider will probably be seriously injured. Car drivers need to be trained to be very alert at intersections. We also must be exceptionally alert in these situations. Our level of alertness and our visibility both help to maintain our safety. Also, below is a list of the top 15 high-viz tips from a motorcycle safety center.

    • Fluorescent/reflective vest.
    • White or brightly colored helmet. According to a recent study in New Zealand, riders who wore a white helmet were 24% less likely to be involved in a multi-vehicle crash than those who wore a black one.
    • Brightly colored jacket.
    • Strategic lane positioning. Smart positioning is critical in making your presence known to other drivers. Understanding blind spots, commercial vehicles, following distance, and positioning for merge areas are the keys to proper positioning.
    • Headlight modulation. Yes, it is legal according to Federal law which supersedes state laws.
    • Flash your taillight. Instead of using steady braking to slow or stop, try squeezing the brake lever several times before applying in a steady fashion. Or, just install a brake light modulator.
    • Reflective tape.
    • Movement. A moving object is more likely to draw attention than a stationary one.
    • Auxiliary driving lights.
    • Hand signals. These in conjunction with regular signals will tend to draw attention.
    • Aftermarket horn. Air horns are a good addition and have saved my hide a couple of times.
    • Position/marker lights. Extra lighting is exceptionally helpful at night.
    • Bike color. Obviously, a bright color will stand out more than a black or grey bike.
    • High beam in daytime.
    • Unusual effects. Basically, make your bike uniquely yours.