Rider Conspicuity

Make Yourself More Noticeable

Sometimes it’s good to be noticed, particularly if you are riding a motorcycle. Too often, motorists pull out in front of motorcycles, usually to make a left turn, and cause deadly crashes, just because they don’t see them. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 40% of two-vehicle crashes involving motorcycles occur when a vehicle turns left while the motorcycle is going straight, passing, or overtaking the vehicle.

Keeping the roadway safe for all users is the responsibility of both motorists and motorcyclists— everyone can do their part.

Motorcyclists should make sure they can be seen in a crowd, because riders who are visible or “conspicuous” are less likely to have their right-of-way violated. There are easy ways to make yourself and your ride visible:

  • Use reflective stickers on your helmet – stickers can make the highest part on your bike—your head—more conspicuous and help ensure that other motorists will spot you. Flames, stripes, thunder bolts, flags—whatever your taste, there are reflective stickers and tapes that look good during the day and glow at night.
  • Consider wearing a brightly-colored helmet – from white to safety orange, helmets are available in a variety of colors and styles that make your head—and you—easier to see.
  • Wear a reflective vest – vests are available in many styles in addition to the standard orange and yellow mesh vests familiar to most riders.
  • Wear clothing on your upper torso that is visible – Light- or bright- colored shirts are more easily seen than gray, brown, or black.
  • Wear a jacket with reflective patches or tape – many jackets are available with stripes and patches that are reflective at night to increase your visibility.
  • Add reflective patches to dark colored jackets – Embroidered patches are available in a variety of styles to help bikers be seen at night. If your jacket is solid black or another dark color, consider adding reflective patches.

Make Your Motorcycle More Visible

  • Additional reflective tape on lower front forksMake sure daytime running lights are operational and turned on – This will not only make you safer, it is also the law in Florida. Most motorcycles come with automatic daytime running lights, but if you are riding an older model, always ride with your low beams on during the day.
  • Equip your bike with an FDOT-approved headlight modulator – Modulators draw attention by altering the frequency of your headlight beam, which makes it appear to get intermittently brighter and dimmer.
  • Add reflectors or reflective tape to your bike – Custom reflectors are available for most motorcycles and can be added without sacrificing appearance. Reflective tape on saddlebags and panniers glows bright white when hit by headlights. Some “stealth” tapes are designed to be almost invisible during the day, yet appear white at night.

Positioning

     Lane ChoiceLane positioning illustration

  • If there is more than one lane, pick a lane where you do not have to change lanes often and can see ahead while being visible to others.
  • Maintain a space cushion all around, and ride at the speed of traffic in your lane to help reduce potential conflicts. Consider shoulders and medians as possible escape paths.
  • On freeways with two lanes, keep right except to pass. On freeways with more than two lanes, avoid the right lane to reduce conflicts at entrance and exit points. When you change lanes, be sure someone does not want the same space you do.

      Lane Position

  • As a motorcyclist, you can divide your lane into thirds: left, middle, and right. Your best lane position within a lane will change based on conditions.
  • Consider what is going on ahead of you, behind you, and to your sides. Leaving room ahead for others helps you maintain space for yourself.
  • Change lane positions to avoid hazards, avoid bad road conditions, and see and be seen.
  • Assume a lane position in which others have a better chance to see you, especially as you approach a line of oncoming cars.

      Drive Defensively

  • Make sure there is plenty of room between you and all the vehicles around you.
  • Stay out of vehicle blind spots.
  • Assume that vehicles pulling out of side streets do not see you and might pull out in front of you.

Source: http://msf-usa.org/downloads/BRCHandbook.pdf (PDF) 22MB