Motorcycle Safety at Night
Even if you never plan on riding your motorcycle after dark, it’s a good idea to be prepared and aware. Most importantly, motorcycle riders need to understand the unique risks they face when riding during the twilight and evening hours. Boost your motorcycle safety at night with these important ways to help you see and be seen on the road.
The Risks of Motorcycle Riding at Night
The most important safety measure you can take when night riding is to maximize your visibility to other drivers. And equally important is your ability to see what else is out there on the road with you. Night motorcycling can be a fantastic way to travel, but there are risks that need to be understood before you set out into the night.
When visibility is limited at night, everyone on the road is at higher risk of making mistakes. And other factors come into play as well:
Hidden obstacles are a big risk. Riding at 65 mph around a bend can bring you face to face with a stalled vehicle or fallen tree in seconds. Standing water in low-lying areas can be less visible as well. Judge corners carefully and always use caution as you approach a blind curve.
Animal strikes are a bigger problem. As dusk approaches, nocturnal animals become active. Deer, raccoons and other large animals can move into your path and halt in the light of your headlight.
Drivers under the influence are more common . Statistically, DUIs increase exponentially during the evening hours. And even drivers who’ve had one or two drinks are less able to respond quickly to traffic conditions.
Distracted drivers are an issue. Smartphones are everywhere, and with them come motorists that still use their phone when they shouldn’t. If you see a driver texting, be sure to give them a wide berth and stay very aware of their lane position.
Visibility is limited. The fact is, you really can’t see as far at night as you can during daylight hours. Because of that, both cars and motorcycle riders typically have less time to react and respond — making accidents involving motorcycles at night are more likely to happen.
How to Make Your Motorcycle More Visible at Night
There are many ways you can improve your visibility when biking at night. By leveraging reflective materials and well-placed lights, you can help others sharing the road see you. Take a look at these other key ways you can help to make your presence known at night:
Enroll in a safe biker course. In addition to making you a safer biker, we reward smart motorcyclists. You may qualify for a discount after successfully completing these courses.
Invest in high visibility gear. One great way to get noticed at night is by picking up a highly reflective jacket for night riding. Day-glow orange construction vests with reflective tape sewn into them are also great options to stay visible at night. A brightly colored motorcycle is also more visible as night time approaches.
Adjust your headlight. Don’t settle for the factory settings when it comes to the position of your bike’s headlights. Depending on your height and stature on your bike, you can easily optimize your high beam’s range of vision. Modulate your headlight from high to low beam as necessary to inform drivers of your presence.
Install a better brake light. Motorcycles come standard with tail lights, but more often than not, they’re dim and they burn out frequently. Newer bikes use LED lights, and just like the ones you install in your home, they last longer and provide better light. Tap your brakes when slowing down to increase driver awareness. You should be able to find LED auxiliary lights for any make and model. These small adjustments can really increase your visibility.
Keep your visor clear and un-tinted. A few scratches or smudges probably won’t bother you during the day, but at night they can impair your vision. Regularly repair any scratches with a car polish compound, and pack some rags and cleaning solution to take those bugs and other splotches out of the picture while you’re on the road.
Get night vision. This might sound futuristic, but we’re not joking. While it’s not full-on military style night vision, you can buy glasses and goggles that optimize the light at night while reducing glare. And if you want some James Bond-style actual night vision, the technology is coming by way of heads-up display helmets and even custom mods where riders are installing infrared lights and cameras to display on their GPS screens.
Upgrade your mirrors. If you find using your mirrors difficult, it may be time to swap them out with a better set. Look for mirror systems that eliminate blind spots.
Lean on the horn. If your bike has a horn, remember to use it. If it doesn’t, get one installed before you get on it again. In addition to loud pipes, a good horn can catch the attention of inattentive drivers and keep you on their radar.
Be ready for all weather, always. Fog, rain and foul weather and temperature drops can show up out of nowhere, especially at high altitudes and on mountainous roadways. Keep a foul weather riding kit stashed in a saddle bag that has what you need to stay dry when the weather turns.
Of course, staying safe while riding your motorcycle at night involves much more than improvements you can make to your bike. By improving your skills, and making safe choices about when to travel, you can improve the odds of getting to your destination without issues. While you’re working on your strategies for traveling at night, remember to get in touch with your American Family Insurance agent. They’ll help you tune up your policy so it’s good to go when you’re ready to ride.