How to Make Your Motorcycle More Visible
Motorcycle visibility is an issue motorcyclists must face every day they ride. As roads crowd, so does the fear of not being seen. If you are a rider, you’ve likely already heard the common phrase:
“I never saw him!”
As motorcycle attorneys, we hear this excuse from car drivers every day, leaving our clients asking how they can be seen on their motorcycles and improve visibility. As a result, I’ve personally experienced:
- Car turned left in front of my motorcycle at intersection
- Car turned out in front of my motorcycle into my lane
- Car changed lanes into my motorcycle
- Car rear-ended my motorcycle!
Here are safety tips on how to make your motorcycle more visible to decrease the chances of a getting hit by a distracted driver because he or she “did not see you”:
Wear bright and/or reflective gear
Helmets and jackets in hi visibility, dayglow, or other similar high visibility and reflective clothing may not look as cool, but they may save your life. Keep in mind that every helmet you purchase should be both DOT and SNELL rated, and we recommend armored jackets and pants.
On the left of this photo is a rider who dresses the way many riders prefer: dark leather jacket, dark blue jeans, black helmet. On the right, in contrast, is a rider that is wearing a brightly colored and reflective jacket, and although his helmet is black, the RiderzLaw racing decals make it much more visible.
Position your motorcycle for maximum visibility
As a general starting point, the “left third” of your lane is often the safest position. Drivers in your lane — both in front of you and behind you – are often more likely to see you if you are positioned there.
This general rule is not absolute, and we need to pay attention to what is going on around us, and ride accordingly. For example, if you are riding in the right lane of a one-way, two lane road, and the left lane is slowed or stopped, the safest position may be in the right third of your lane. This way, if a car moves into your lane suddenly, you have more time to react. Lane positioning is discussed in more detail here.
View the photo on the left to identify how a rider should position themselves in the left third of the lane on a one way two lane road, for maximum visibility to drivers around him.
Ride with your high beam on during the day
This advice is a little bit controversial, but based on decades of riding, and from the many accidents I’ve seen as a motorcycle lawyer, I stand behind it 100%. Why? It’s simple: a motorcycle with a high beam on during the day is far more likely to be seen. Use your high beam from the first light of dawn until the last light at dusk. After the sun goes down, be respectful of other drivers and turn down your high beam as appropriate- after all, you don’t want to blind them!
Make your Bike stand out
I love my black motorcycles. I own more black bikes than any other single color. Even in the late 1990’s (before it was cool!) I customized a Cbr600f2 Streetfighter in flat black (engine included) and built a Harley cafe racer that sought subtlety through minimal visibility- not unlike the original 1970 Harley sportster cafe racer. But let’s face it- chrome shines in the sun and in headlights of oncoming cars, and bright colored motorcycles are simply more visible than dark colors. You may already have a dark colored bike- don’t worry, you can attach reflectors, reflective decals, LED tail lights and blinkers, sequential and pulsing tail lights, and a nearly unlimited array of bright and reflective upgrades for your bike. My personal favorite- Whitewall tires are coming back!
RiderzLaw Racing has changed over the years from using blue and black in our logo to going mostly bright white. This picture shows one of our race bikes, the Jackson Blackmon Yamaha R3, with bright white decals which stand out boldly, making the bike (and our company) more visible.
Loud pipes save lives
It’s a cliche used primarily in the cruiser universe, but there is truth and logic to this statement. I can’t count how many times I’ve been driving in my truck on the highway and heard the motorcycle approaching me long before I saw it. Aftermarket exhaust systems tend to make more noise, so not only does this motorcycle upgrade make you more “visible” but with proper tuning (check out Flashtune, one of RiderzLaw’s motorcycle roadracing partners) it can increase your horsepower and torque. Keep in mind that individual State laws control what modifications and decibel levels are legal.
In this photos of two motorcycles, one is black with stock pipes, making it less visible and noticeable. The other bike is white, with lots of chrome, and an aftermarket exhaust which makes it more visible and louder, making it very noticeable.
- It is the responsibility of drivers to look out for all vehicles, including motorcycles. But remember, it is best to avoid the accident in the first place – even if it’s someone else’s fault. A huge settlement does not make up for the pain and suffering and potentially devastating effects of a motorcycle crash. Following these guidelines will help to prevent many of those crashes and the broken bones, back and spine damage, head injuries, dislocations, and all the other injuries which can occur when an accident happens.Of course, even if we do everything right, and even if we take every precaution while riding, some accidents cannot be avoided. When that happens, the motorcycle accident lawyers at RiderzLaw are there for you. We will make sure that you receive everything which you are entitled to! Don’t let the insurance companies bully you! Call us for a free case assessment. We know motorcycles and we know the law.