How To Become Visible On A Motorcycle
It is extremely important that riders learn how to become more visible on a motorcycle because we account for 1% of traffic and yet 25% of all accidents. These are horrendous statistics and must be taken seriously. If you think about why riders are not seen, it’s because 99% of the time a road user is looking for something bigger than a motorcycle.
In the summer months when the roads are dry and the temperature is good to go for a ride, the figure may well be 1% of traffic. That’s 1 in every 100 vehicles is a motorcycle. Compare this to winter riding and the figures change dramatically, riders may account for 1 in every 1000 or even 10000 vehicles. Is it any wonder why motorcyclists need to be aware of the importance of being seen?
Many riders think wearing fluorescent and reflective clothing makes them look stupid or just doesn’t have the right image. This doesn’t help when riders attend courses and are told drivers and other road users are blind to bright colours!
Riders at all levels make a conscious decision not to wear high visibility aids, being seen is obviously not as important as looking good for some people. Yet most riders moan about the lack of vision of other road users and they blame everyone else for not seeing them!
A motorcycle is less than a quarter of the size of a normal family car. Bikes are far more difficult to see as a result of how narrow they are and because of their size it can be extremely difficult for another road user to judge the speed of a motorcycle coming towards them.
Riding a dark motorcycle with dark clothing and a black helmet will make a rider blend into most backgrounds. It’s hardly fair blaming other road users for not seeing a biker when they have blended into the background and cannot be seen. Even a keen eyed motorist (who may well be a biker) will find it difficult to see a moving motorbike until it is too late!
Speed plays another important part, because riders accelerate quicker than cars and other vehicles, it makes it difficult to judge the approaching speed of a motorcycle.
Other motorists will make mistakes as the size of the bike does not increase very quickly. It is much easier to see a car or truck when being observed from a junction and easier to judge their speed too. Acceleration is a key factor here, as judging speed by volume of mass can be difficult through rain splattered glass or steamed up obscured windows.
There may also be other distractions for the motorist. The car radio needs to be adjusted because they have lost the radio station, or the phone rings and needs to be looked at. If children are in the car it may also add to the distractions, not to mention that most drivers perceive that they are not really doing that much and the car knows its own way!
Street furniture, other vehicles, and pedestrians can all obscure an already limited view. Add to this the varying abilities of the driver and it’s not difficult to see why someone may well pull out in front of a motorbike.
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Too quick to blame others
Riders are too quick to put the blame on other people for a lack of vision, for making a mistake or just because it’s easier to put the fault on someone else.
All riders must ‘Take Responsibility’ for their own actions. Having the lights on the bike whilst riding, having a clean and shiny bike will also help, brighter clothing and a visible helmet will also help to reduce the risk of not being seen.
By far the best thing that can be worn at night is a reflective jacket, reflective piping on the jackets and trousers can also aid a rider’s visibility. Reflectors and reflective strips can also be put onto the panniers of the motorcycle, this will help if the tail light isn’t very bright or the bulb has blown.
A second glance is needed
Other clothing that should be considered are high visibility garments that will make a rider stand out. As long as it makes the driver of another vehicle have a ‘second glance’, it has done the job and a rider has a better chance of not being involved in an accident.
Think about the surroundings too, if it’s a busy city centre your lights may well be lost in the confusion of all the other bright lights. If it’s pitch black on a country lane and you have a vehicle following you, your headlight may be confused for the car’s headlight.
You can move towards the centre of the lane, this may show the vehicle at the junction that you are a single vehicle and not part of the car’s headlights behind you. This is simple stuff if you have been educated, another reason why taking extra guidance from experts is vital to your survival.
Car blind spots
Stanchions in cars have become a huge hazard. The uprights in cars now are so big that drivers find it difficult to see everything. Modern cars are brilliant compared to old vehicles on the road but they do have drawbacks to the vision from the cockpit.
The protection that has been built into a car is to prevent death in an accident. The car is a roll cage to keep everyone inside safe, it is rare that a car gets crushed if it overturns. This is fantastic news for car passengers but not so good for motorcyclists who are vulnerable road users, they are smaller and more difficult to see as a result of better protection for people in vehicles.
If you assume that you have not been seen, you will not go far wrong. Also making a slight move away from the danger will reduce your risk and elevate the chance of being seen if you were in a blind spot.
There is a well known campaign that states ‘Think Bike’. That is absolutely marvellous but defeats the object somewhat. All this does is allow riders to shift the blame to everyone else, except themselves.
Who is riding your bike? Nobody else puts you in the position you are in, you must ‘Think Car’ and not put the onus on the car driver and try to shift any blame onto others.
If you ask 99% of riders who have been involved in an accident, they will shift the blame to someone or something else. Think Bike campaign is good for car drivers but THINK CAR is a better campaign for motorcyclists.