How to Stay Visible While Riding a Motorcycle
Motorcycle crashes have seen a rise in recent years, with almost 5,000 casualties reported in 2015. While this number still pales in comparison to car crash numbers, far more people drive cars than motorcycles, leaving motorcyclists with a higher percent chance of getting in an accident.
Now more than ever, it is vital that motorcyclists brush up on the best ways to stay safe on the road. Aside from the obvious, such as obeying traffic laws and driving safe, the best way to prevent most motorcycling accidents is to stay visible. Below are the top four ways you can remain seen (and safe) on the road.
1) Equip yourself and your motorcycle with visibility gear.
Visibility can be tricky for motorcyclists for a number of reasons. Size is a big factor, since motorcycles are inherently harder to notice than a larger vehicle. Driver’s psychology also tricks vehicle drivers into not noticing motorcycles, since a majority of drivers look for an absence of cars, not the presence of motorcycles. To combat this, it is important to equip yourself and your bike with ample visibility gear.
For yourself: A bright helmet is the best place to start, seeing as the head is the first thing most drivers will see when noticing a motorcyclist. A bright or reflective jacket is also a good investment, which is useful during all times of the day to alert other drivers of your presence. Bright gloves are also a useful investment, especially if you need to signal to other motorcyclists you’re traveling with or to get other cars’ attention when moving about.
For your motorcycle: While headlights are standard, good auxiliary lights on the front and back of your motorcycle should be an immediate investment if you don’t already have them. They are useful 24/7 and help you to stand out in the crowd. Reflective tape along your rearview mirrors, front forks, and wheel rims can also reflect headlights and further illuminate your motorcycle.
2) Utilize your motorcycle’s safety features.
Most motorcyclists are already very familiar with the features they can utilize. However, in the heat of a dangerous moment, it can be easy to forget what your motorcycle is capable of and how it can help you out of a tricky situation. Even if you are familiar with the following, it can never hurt to review:
Brake lights. Aside from their obvious normal function, brake lights can serve as a signaling tool to both fellow riders and other drivers. Tapping your brakes can blink your taillights and inform others of a sudden shift in the norm on the road, such as an upcoming hazard or a need to swerve inward unexpectedly. The more signaling tools you possess, the better.
High Beams. Especially for those that ride at night, high beams are an important tool to utilize. While your visibility is important, the visibility of the road is equally important, if not more so, when staying safe. That extra few feet of illumination can make all the difference in buffering your reaction time to an unexpected danger.
3) Brush up on hand signals and nonverbal rider communication.
Most drivers are aware of the unspoken system of waves and gestures that alerts them to certain things on the road. However, motorcyclists can especially take advantage of hand signals to alert fellow riders and other drivers of their intentions on the road. The following are some of the most useful hand signals you can use to communicate with other drivers:
“Left turn”: Left arm and hand extending left with the palm facing downward.
“Right turn”: Left arm out, bent up at a 90 degree angle, fist clenched.
“Stop”: Left arm out, bent down at a 90 degree angle, palm facing back.
“Speed up” or “Pass me”: Left arm extended straight out, palm facing to the front or upward, swinging/waving people forward.
“Hazard in the roadway”: Left arm extended outward, pointing; right foot extended outward, pointing.
4) Be wary of blind spots and other potentially dangerous locations.
One of the best ways to remain visible on the road is to be sure you aren’t accidentally hiding from sight. Even if you think you can be seen, you may be closer to trouble than you think because of blind spots or other road obstacles. Motorcycles are smaller than normal vehicles, meaning they are more easily covered by a vehicle’s back-right blind spot than a vehicle is. Other hazards like hidden driveways, parking lots, or crowded intersections can also be an issue. To make sure you are always seen, be sure to:
Constantly communicate with other drivers via hand signals, blinkers, vocal cues, and eye contact with oncoming vehicles
Make passes swiftly and avoid lingering around the back-right of any vehicle
Do not pass on the right
Leave enough room between you and other vehicles to give other drivers a consistent line of sight
Slow down in areas with weather hazards, unexpected obstacles, or that leave you hard of sight
Plan your route ahead of time to try and anticipate any problem areas during your ride
*This Article was written by Personal Injury Help, however this article is not intended to be legal advice nor should it be construed as such. To learn more about Personal Injury Help, you can visit their website at personalinjury-law.com or email them at help@personalinjury- law.org.