Motorcycle riding is a risky activity in and of itself. Add to it reduced visibility, nocturnal creatures, drunk drivers and other factors that are mainly present at night, and it becomes downright dangerous. If you plan to ride your motorcycle at night, you need to seriously consider whether doing so is truly safe.
The Motorcycle Legal Foundation offers a few considerations for riders to make before saddling up after dusk. Those include the hidden dangers of riding at night as well as ways riders can protect themselves.
The hidden dangers of riding at night
When it comes to riding a motorcycle after the sun goes down, there are several new dangers riders should be wary of. The top four are as follows:
- Reduced visibility: According to one study, nighttime riding accounted for 27% of motorcycle fatalities in 2016. The most dangerous times were between the hours of 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.
- Hidden obstacles: Obstacles that may pose little threat to the driver of a standard vehicle can be dangerous or even deadly to motorcycle riders. Potholes, debris in the road, manholes, loose gravel and other items are difficult to avoid during the day. At night, a rider may not see an obstacle until it is too late.
- Drunk drivers: Statistically speaking, there are more drunk drivers out during nighttime hours than are during daytime hours. In fact, 47% of fatal drunk driving accidents that involved motorcycles occurred between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 a.m. in 2016.
- Nocturnal animals: Deer, opossums, raccoons, coyotes and other animals often freeze in headlights or try to dash across the road when a vehicle is coming. If you hit an animal when riding, you may fair just as badly as it will.
Tips for safe nighttime riding
Though you should try to avoid riding your motorcycle at night at all costs, if you must use two wheels instead of four after dusk, there are a few safety tips you should follow. The first is to make yourself as visible as possible. Install LED headlights, a headlight modulator, auxiliary lights and high beams. Wear reflective gear and equip your bike with reflective tape and decals. Install a loud pipe to make sure other drivers can hear you. Before hitting the road, clean your visor for optimal visibility.
When out on the road, remain alert. Practice defensive driving, stay out of blind spots and maintain a larger than normal distance between your bike and other vehicles. Use your signals when turning or switching lanes. Finally, always ride within the light. Do not outride your own light and, when possible, use other vehicles’ lights to look for obstacles in the road ahead.