Why Go High-Viz?
Ask any rider, and they will probably tell you their biggest safety concern is being cut off, run over, or otherwise violated by another driver in traffic. It’s a constant, serious threat.
However, as a rider, you can take control of the situation by making yourself as highly visible (conspicuous) as possible. Doing so will reduce the number of surprises you face every day and help you avoid getting blindsided by someone else’s last-minute decision.
The Top 10 High-Viz Tips
courtesy of: http://www.motorcyclesafety.state.mn...?cid=5&mid=280
These 10 strategies will be most effective at helping you get noticed by other drivers. Tips 11 through 20 (10 More High-Viz Tips) are additional ways to make yourself visible to other drivers.
Each tip is assigned a point value. The more points a tip has, the more effective it will be at increasing your conspicuity. Your goal is to use the tips and add up points to be a perfect "10."
Take a look at the Top 10 tips, decide which ones make the most sense to you, based on your riding experience and the type of riding you do, and adopt them into your riding style. To get an idea of how visible you are right now on the scale of 1-10, try our interactive quiz to see where you stand. The quiz will give you a place to start; then you can keep adding tips to your riding strategy until you reach 10.
1. Fluorescent/Reflective Safety Vest
High-Viz is the New Black
The most effective tool that a rider can use to increase visibility is a simple, reflective safety vest. The fluorescent color and retroreflective taping are hard to miss, both day and night. If you're serious about standing out in traffic, a vest will net you the most visibility with the least amount of effort.
2. White Helmet
If You're Going to Wear a Helmet, Make It A White One
Another solid tool for making yourself visible to others is to wear a white helmet. A recent study in New Zealand [LINK] found that riders who wore a white helmet were 24 percent less likely to be involved in a multi-vehicle crash than riders who wore a black helmet.
3. Brightly Colored Jacket
Show Your True Colors
For a rider's protection and visibility, a good jacket in a bright color such as red, orange, green, or yellow is a very smart choice. A fluorescent color is even better, and if it has reflective material, you’ll be much, much easier to see in traffic both day and night.
4. Strategic Lane Positioning
High-Viz Strategy: Location, Location, Location
If you choose not to wear brightly colored riding gear, or if you already do wear the gear and are looking for more ways to stand out in traffic, careful positioning in traffic will do as much for your visibility as a high-viz jacket.
Motorcycles can disappear in traffic because they’re smaller and harder to spot among other, larger vehicles. Whether you wear brightly colored gear or not, smart positioning is critical in making your presence known to other drivers. Understanding blind spots, commercial vehicles, following distance, positioning for intersections, and positioning for merge areas are the keys to proper positioning.
5. Headlight Modulation
Stand Out from the Crowd
An easy motorcycle modification to boost your frontal visibility—the area from 11:00 to 1:00 where most of your accident hazards come from—is to add a headlight modulator to your bike. A headlight modulator "pulses" the headlight’s intensity during the daytime, rapidly alternating between high and low to draw attention to the motorcycle.
6. Flash Your Taillight
Use Your Stop Lamp to Your Advantage
An easy way to make yourself more visible to traffic from the rear is to flash your taillight. Instead of just braking to slow or to stop, squeeze the brake lever several times to alert other drivers before you begin to slow. This will raise awareness of both your presence and your intentions and allow other drivers time to adjust.
7. Reflective Materials
Glow in the Dark
Here is a great tip anyone who rides after dark: a cheap, easy, and fun way to dramatically increase your visibility is to use reflective materials on your helmet and/or bike to stand out at night. You can buy pre-designed kits with skulls, flames, or other designs, or you can create your own custom set for your helmet or bike.
Use Motion to Stand Out
A moving object is more likely to draw another driver’s attention than a stationary one. But when you’re riding towards or away from another driver, because you stay in the same general place in their field of vision, you may eventually "disappear" from view, even though you are in plain sight.
9. Auxiliary Driving Lights
A Different Twist on Headlights
Most riders add auxiliary driving lights or fog lights to their motorcycle to help them see the road and shoulders at night or in bad weather. But a terrific fringe benefit is that auxiliary lights can make you more noticeable to other drivers. The relatively unique triangular light setup is very rare (except near railroad tracks!) and may help get you noticed.
10. Hand Signals
Discover the Lost Art
One simple, cheap way to make yourself more visible to other drivers is to use hand signals in addition to your bike’s turn signals. Because traditional hand signals are so rare in traffic, they tend to get noticed by other drivers.
10 More High-Viz Tips
Tips 11-20 will not be as effective as tips 1-10, but they can edge you a little closer to becoming a Perfect 10. Each tip is assigned a point value. The more points a tip has, the more effective it will be at increasing your conspicuity. These tips fall into two categories: "When not to ride," and modifications that can make you and your bike stand out from other vehicles on the road.
11. Avoid Riding at Night
Know the Limitations of Vision
One way to increase your conspicuity is to avoid putting yourself into situations of low visibility, such as riding at night. At night, our eyes become very sensitive in order to see, but they compensate by missing fine details and color.
12. Avoid Riding at Dawn/Dusk
Beware the Transition from Light to Dark
One way to increase your conspicuity is to avoid putting yourself into situations of low visibility, such as riding at night. Riding at dawn and dusk are even worse when it comes to vision, because the human eye takes a long time to adjust to changing light.
13. Aftermarket Horn
Loud Horns Save Lives
An inexpensive, easy modification to draw attention to yourself is to install a loud aftermarket horn. While a loud horn won't make you more visible, it will be more effective at alerting other drivers to your presence.
14. Position/Marker Lights
Help Others Gauge Your Speed and Distance
A simple and effective way to increase your frontal visiblity on your motorcycle is to add position/marker lights. On many newer bikes, the front turn signals are wired as marker lights—meaning they're on all the time, except when being used as turn indicators. (flashing). The effect of marker lights is to give other drivers a better sense of your speed and distance.
15. Avoid Riding in Poor Weather
Moisture Affects Visibility
Rain affects visibility by changing the way light reaches the eye. In dry conditions, light bounces off objects and back to the driver's eyes to make things clearly visible. Raindrops act like millions of tiny lenses that disperse light, reflect it in all directions, and cause objects to lose their shape and substance.
16. Avoid Riding during Low-Sun-Angle/Seasonal Times
Invisible in Broad Daylight
Twice a year, as the seasons change in spring and fall, most east-west roads will end up pointed directly at the sun for a week or two, particularly during morning and evening rush hours. This creates a hazardous situation for all drivers, especially motorcycle riders trying to be conspicuous in traffic.
17. Bike Profile
Dare to Be Different
Believe it or not, the Hurt Study (1981) found that the shape of a motorcycle can have positive impacrt on rider visibility. According to the study, "Motorcycles equipped with fairings and windshields are underrepresented in accidents, most likely because of the contribution to conspicuity and the association with more experienced and trained riders."
18. Bike Color
Choose the Unusual
Even though the 1981 Hurt Study found that motorcycle color was not a factor in crash involvement, it makes good sense to choose a color that stands out in traffic. It's not a huge leap of logic to suggest that a bright yellow bike will stand out better than a black or gray bike.
19. High Beam in Daytime
Let Your Light Shine
Most riders agree that it's smart to have the headlight on at all times. During the day, riders don't need the headlight to see—they use it to be seen by other drivers. So why not run the high beam more often, and add to your visibility?
20. Unusual Effects
Stand Out Like a Sore Thumb
Last on the list of high-viz tips is using "unconventional" methods to get yourself noticed. It's not such a stretch to truly customize and personalize your motorcycle and riding gear to help you stand out from the crowd.