The Airheads Beemer Club is a non-profit club reclaiming the 'Legendary Motorcycles of Germany'
"Recognition & Safety"...
How to make ourselves more conspicuous, more visible.
Any downsides to increased visibility? HINTS!!
Help for oncoming driver's speed of recognition. HINTS!!
Understanding the problems.

© Copyright 2019, R. Fleischer

Conspicuity ...Recognition ...Safety ....

This article deals primarily with improving recognition and speed of recognition...hopefully leading to action by drivers of ONCOMING vehicles (whether from your front, rear, or sides), but also covers how YOU see other vehicles.
Many safety agencies ...and studies, ...have proven that safety is enhanced for motorcyclists having modulated headlights the pulsing light attracts attention, particularly important to a motorcyclist, who wants, or should want, an oncoming driver to notice & recognize that a motorcycle is there. This has been shown to reduce left-turn accidents, & in general, reduce most biking accidents.
Studies have also proven that bright clothing and certain colors of helmets help reduce accidents considerably.

State and Federal Governments testing and reports is NOT extensive for motorcycles, nor is private/commercial testing/reports.  While many effects do cross-over between carts and trucks and motorcycles, the information is spotty about specifics for motorcyclists.  Further, there is a considerable amount of wrong 'information' in common use or understanding. Especially notable is the paucity of knowledgeable effects of movement and head positioning of drivers/riders of vehicles on recognition times; although there are other things, including lighting, colors, etc....and these are vast subjects.  Many of the technical details are in this article:
The information in that article is extensive.   I HIGHLY suggest you stop here, and read that ENTIRE article, before proceeding!
I found it difficult, to say the least, in constructing and performing the test sequences I needed the information from.  I finally figured out reliable repeatable methods.  I conducted experiments with various lights. I did a lot of experiments with various reflective stripes on my sidecar rig. I additionally did experiments while wearing my white helmet and also with my fluorescent yellow-greenish intensely colored helmet. In order to gain real data, I did tests both with and without a modulating headlight. I tried to get definitive information about safety for each item separately .....and did additional tests with combinations. I also did some tests while driving my SUV, even to the extent of judging other driver's responses to sudden display of colored reflective strips fluttering down the driver's door and the passenger's door....and, behind the windshield (I even conducted some tests where I could press a button and illuminate certain items, and used common incandescent lighting, and then various light colors from assorted LED's.   I found NO information on anyone having done these types of tests before.  They certainly were informative.

Improving your visibility to others may possibly have a downside. There is some evidence that if you become TOO conspicuous during daylight hours, drivers of cars might fixate-on-you, & then run right into you. One military base tested this idea with collected information about only bright reflective jackets. But, at NIGHT, reflective stripes seem to help VERY CONSIDERABLY for safety. When I have enough solid information on daytime fixation effects, I will put it here. So far, it appears that high visibility is MUCH SAFER for YOU, over-all, day or night.

Headlight modulators and some rather interesting information about how our eyes and brain deal with various types of lighting......are treated in their own article, as noted above:, which is my article 24C. That article also contains the legal requirements & laws on modulators; besides the technical information regarding light recognition by your brain. I HIGHLY advise you to read it, and do not just skim over it; has many things you probably did not know!! also contains information on front, side, and rear lighting, and use of reflector materials, etc., for all USA Vehicles.

The rest of the below article is to be regarded as a companion article to that above linked article. What follows has sections that deal with HOW you and others recognize and deal with things you 'see'. This article does not deal with the mechanics of riding a motorcycle, as I assume you already know how to ride. You already know that you need to be 100% awake & 100% sober for the best functioning of your senses/brain. You need proper protective clothing. You need a motorcycle in good condition: good tires, proper inflation, good brakes, etc., & you need to not to ride beyond your abilities.

To improve YOUR safety, it is not simply a matter of improving your ""visibility"", in the way you may presently think of 'visibility'. I will get into all this in a way seldom presented, if at all, and when you are done reading this article, and the linked articles, you may, and I hope will, understand the 'I didn't see him' phenomena ...and know a considerable amount on how to deal with it.

THE problem, over-all, is how to speed up the time for real recognition, and speed up the time for acting upon such recognition. It is NOT just making yourself more visible and recognizable. It is increasing the speed of the approaching driver's own reaction(s), which, hopefully, will help avoid a collision. The information applies to YOU, too!   

This remainder of this article is only available for Airheads Beemer Club members. Please Log In..or..Click Here to join the Airheads Beemer Club, after which you will enjoy access this article and all members only content of the ABC web site. 

Return to Tech Tips

Connect to Snowbum's HomePage