You probably noticed the bumper stickers before you even bought your first motorcycle. You know the ones — they have the big type that says “START SEEING MOTORCYCLES.”
Now that you’re on a motorcycle of your own, you know first-hand what those stickers mean. Many motorists are only used to sharing the road with other cars and trucks, and blind-spot detection technology isn’t always perfect in vehicles, so that means motorcycle riders end up being invisible to many drivers.
But hey, as riders, we’re not the types to be ignored. It’s not in our DNA. And in this case, it’s not safe, either. So here’s some things you can do to make yourself stand out:
Be aware of how visible you are to others as you ride. It’s all too easy to slip into a blind spot and stay there, and if motorists aren’t checking those blind spots, it’s up to you to stay out of them. The best person to trust your safety to? That person’s looking at you in the mirror every day. So don’t put yourself behind a large truck. Stay out of those blind spots. The whole lane is yours, so position yourself in a spot where other motorists can see you.
That’s invisible, not invincible. And yeah, it sounds counterintuitive when you’re talking about “being seen,” but bear with us.
Next time you’re out on your motorcycle, imagine you are completely invisible. You still have a physical form, it’s just that nobody can see you. That kind of mindset makes you super-aware and hyper-vigilant. Try it and you’ll see how it attunes you to other drivers in a way that helps you stay safe.
When the sun’s going down, motorists are struggling to adjust their eyes from daylight driving to driving by headlights. Squinting against a setting sun will make things even harder for everyone. So keep your eyes off the gorgeous sunset and exercise a little more caution when riding at this time of day.
Just like riding in the rain or snow, night rides are a whole different experience. First off, you’ll want to slow down, overall. This is especially true if you’re on a curving or winding roadway. Watch the road surface carefully — using not only your own headlight, but those of other motorists, too. A bit of debris or foreign material spilled on the road is harder to see at night so use everything you have to stay on the lookout. Making sure your helmet’s face shield is in good condition helps, too. Marred and scratched surfaces can create prisms out of headlights, making it harder to see.
You’ll also want to leave more space between you and other motorists at night so that you give yourself more time to react to a situation.
And of course, critters love to come out at night as well — raccoons, foxes, deer, and more — and they can be very unpredictable. Slowing down can give you a few extra seconds to help you avoid them.
The swervers. The line-crossers. The speeders. The inattentive and the looky-loos. Drivers who behave erratically are bad for everyone. If someone’s acting weird, give them room and keep yourself safe. You’ve taken time and care to know exactly what you’re doing on the road, and you deserve to share the highway with those who treat driving the same way.
Staying seen is a huge part of staying safe. Follow these tips, and you’re sure to maximize your fun.
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