A common complaint of street riders is that other motorists fail
to observe them. Motorists who violate motorcyclists right-of-way
frequently state, I didnt see him, or He
came out of nowhere (Hurt,
The problem of other motorists failing to observe motorcyclists
apparently exists on several levels (see Motorist
Awareness, page 31). An important Hurt Report finding
was that conspicuous motorcycles and riders were less likely to
have their right-of-way violated by other vehicles.
A variety of recognized tactics exists to make motorcycles and
their riders more conspicuous: lighting, surface color and size,
and rider traffic strategy.
Lighting factors include:
Since 1979, most motorcycles sold in the United States
have been equipped with automatic-on
headlamps to meet some state requirements. This seems
to have been an effective method of making them more conspicuous
and reducing right-of-way violations. Currently, 86 percent of
motorcycles on the road have their headlights on during daytime
Using the high beam of a motorcycles headlight during
the day also helps to prevent violations of the motorcyclists
In the cruising and touring categories, auxiliary headlights,
usually of reduced wattage, are gaining popularity. Many sportbikes
are equipped with dual headlights.
Recently, some automobiles have started using daytime
running lamps (DRL), which may reduce the effectiveness
of motorcycle automatic-on headlamps.
Headlight modulators, which cause the light to alternate
between a higher and a lower intensity during the day, also increase
1981). Headlight modulators are federally regulated
lighting devices and as such, all state laws governing them are
preempted. Motorcycle headlight modulators have not been studied
to determine their effects on other motorists.
Many modern street bikes are equipped with position
lamps in their front turn signals. This may help other
motorists to identify the vehicle as a motorcycle and to better
judge its distance and speed.
Few motorcycles have more than single-point rear lighting,
though multiple lights at the rear would seem to offer similar
benefits and also provide redundancy for the single taillight.
The color of and equipment on a motorcycle can play a significant
Motorcycles equipped with additional frontal bodywork
(fairings which protect
the rider from wind and weather) were found to be under-represented
in crashes where motorists violated the motorcyclists right-of-way.
The larger the fairing and the brighter the color, the more effective
it seemed to be in preventing other vehicles right-of-way