No motorcycle rider wants to be the subject of this infamous expression, “Officer I did not see the motorcycle.” As riders, we all focus on seeing road hazards and trying to be seen by our fellow motorists. The skills involved with seeing hazards can be improved through rider education and experience. Being seen by the increasingly distracted drivers on today’s busy roads, however, remains a growing challenge.
Wearing colorful and reflective riding gear helps, but it’s not the style choice for many riders. What else can we do to be more visible in the traffic mix?
Most states require motorcycles to operate with the headlamp illuminated at all times. New motorcycles have been sold with always on headlights for decades. Many late model cars also have daytime running lights. Motorcycles typically have a single headlamp, which to a distracted driver can appear as a distant car with daytime running lights. This optical confusion can result in a driver violating the right-of-way of an oncoming motorcycle. Use of the high beam in daylight hours can mitigate this some, but you still visually have just one headlamp.
While increased wattage headlamp bulbs are available, they may not be legal in your state or states you travel through. These higher wattage bulbs may also exceed the electrical design of your motorcycle’s wiring and fuses. Adding a set of driving lights is another option if the design of your motorcycle will accommodate them both physically and electrically.
LED stands for Light Emitting Diode; this technology offers several key features that are beneficial in motorcycle lighting devices. LEDs are longer lasting and less prone to damage by vibration than traditional bulbs with filaments. They also produce a lot of light while using less electric power. They also are very compact, thus allowing many LEDs in the same space as one standard bulb.
An interesting product available in the motorcycle accessory market is LED turn signals that provide dual lighting functions. When the turn signal is not activated, they produce a very bright running light, much brighter than standard dual-element turn signal bulbs. Activating the turn signal results in a brighter blinking signal. In many cases, these can be found as plug-and-play replacements for your existing turn signal bulbs for both front and rear applications. The bright LED running lights in turn signals allow you to present a wider lighting profile, which can help your motorcycle be seen in the traffic mix. There are also side marker LED options that can improve your nighttime visibility.
Till next time, shine brightly and ride safe!