Without question, motorcycling during the day is dangerous. The motorcycle is surrounded by motor vehicles that outweigh them by a factor of five or more. Attentive motorists find motorcycles more difficult to see than cars, while distracted motorists don’t see them at all. Their two-wheel contact with the road make them more vulnerable to debris, road grease, bumps, and potholes. Motorcycles are also more likely to lose control when striking an animal.
When the sun sets, these day-time dangers don’t go away — they get worse. The motorcyclist becomes even less visible to motorists and the poor lighting makes road hazards more difficult to spot. This means night riding demands still more caution. To improve your night riding safety, follow these four tips:
- Make sure you see clearly. Get your eyes checked and wear your corrective lenses. Make sure your visor and windshield are free of scratches, grime, or smudges. These produce glare from the lights of oncoming traffic. Carry some Windex and paper towels, especially during the warmer months to clean off bug residue.
- Make sure you are clearly seen. Use reflective strips on your bike, helmet, and jacket. Avoid wearing black colored clothes. Black is the least visible color during the day and night. Consider installing two auxiliary headlights. These increase your visibility, make it easier for others to judge your speed and distance, and improve your ability to see the road. Always check your tail and brake lights for proper functioning to ensure that you don’t get rear-ended. Consider installing brighter tail lights.
- Slow down. Not only do you want to avoid out riding the reach of your headlights, you will need extra reaction time for road debris, potholes, and animals, all of which are difficult to spot at night.
- Ride in the wheel tracks of cars. This helps in two ways: first, you will avoid the road oil and grease commonly found in the lane center between the tracks. Second, you are less likely to encounter road debris in these tracks because car wheels will have knocked them elsewhere.