Many bikers try to avoid riding at night, and that’s for a good reason. While we are small and not that visible during the daytime, at night we are insignificant for cars and trucks. Even with our single rear light, on a road at night, it is easy to overlook us.
But it’s not only the fact that we are close to invisible to other road users; we also have problems seeing the road up ahead. With only one light bulb illuminating the road, it’s easy not to see that pothole or wet patch in the road. That’s probably why high-tech motorcycle manufacturers are now putting adaptive headlights on their premium motorcycles; headlights that turn into the curve so we can see better where our bike is going.
But for safer riding at night, there are a few things you can do to stay safe.
- Wear reflective clothing. This way if a car’s lights are aimed at you, it’s not just the bike’s rear lights they will see, but also you back (and helmet if it has reflective elements on it).Standout at night; been seen!
- Clean your lights. Make sure your headlights and rear lights are clean from smudges and bugs. Any bit will diminish the light projected, so the cleaner, the more light.100% light so you can see 100%.
- Clean your visor. Again, the better you can see, the more you can see. And at night, that small bug splatter on your visor can turn into an 18-wheeler truck barreling towards you. It goes without saying that tinted visors (and sunglasses) are out of the question.100% visibility.
- Use high beam. There is no shame in using your high beam, but use it wisely. Do not turn it on if there’s upcoming traffic, but when there is no traffic, turn it on, even on a long straight line. The high beam gives you much more visibility.Shine the way as much as you can.
- Follow the vehicle in front. If there is traffic in front of you, keep a safe distance and use the vehicle in front as a scout; follow it so you can see when there’s a curve or intersection. But do keep a safe distance, and don’t fixate on the vehicle.Use a scout to open the road.
- Don’t look into upcoming headlights. When there’s opposing traffic, best is to look to the side of the road instead of into the headlights of the vehicles. This way your night vision remains clearer. Another thing I do is close my right eye (for the “normal” driving position, in the United Kingdom it would be the left eye) while the cars passes. This way, at least one eye still has good night vision.Keep your night vision clear.
- Ride Slower. Nighttime means less visibility and less reaction time, so slow down.Slower is better at night.
- Be more watchful. Nighttime attracts strange animals to the roads, four legged who are drawn to the lights and 2 legged ones who think nothing of driving a car while intoxicated.Be very watchful for these animals.
- Light up the brake lights to be seen. When you see another vehicle coming up fast behind you, touch your brakes once or twice to be sure that they see you.Be seen by approaching cars.
- Extra lights. An obvious one, but an expensive one. Put extra lights on your motorcycle so that you can see more.
Keep these tips in mind, and enjoy the ride. Just be safe when riding.