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Riding a motorcycle at night can be a fantastic experience, but there’s no escaping the fact that it has its share of risks.
In this article, we’re examining these risks and letting you know the proper approach to minimize danger.
With proper care and precaution, you can cruise under the stars safely.
Why Ride a Motorcycle at Night?
Before we jump into the risks and hazards of night-riding, let’s examine why riding a motorcycle at night is so darn appealing in the first place. Here are the top reasons that many riders prefer to hit the road at night:
Perhaps the #1 appeal of night-riding is the lack of congestion. The roads are empty and spacious, giving you the freedom to really take your bike on a ride. No sitting in rush hour traffic, just the open road. This is also ideal if you want to ride with friends, with fewer worries of being separated on a night ride.
Night Skies and Neon Lights
Although it’s dark, night-riding still offers its share of appealing sights and sounds. In the city, you’ll see whizzing streetlights and neon-drenched locales. In the country, you’ll be riding under the stars, and there’s nothing to distract you from the open road.
If you live in a hot and humid climate, night-riding might be the only way to ride your motorcycle comfortably. For some riders, it’s simply too uncomfortable putting thick clothing and a heavy helmet on a sweltering day. For this reason, many riders take to the streets at night. Plus, they also benefit from everything mentioned above.
What Are Some Hidden Dangers of Night Riding?
Now that we’ve examined why night-riding is so appealing, let’s balance it out a bit. Night-riding also presents its share of hazards and risks. As a motorcycle rider, you need to be aware of these risks if you hope to avert them. Here are the top things to keep in mind:
Generally speaking, you’ll encounter worse drivers at night than you would during the day. Nighttime is the most common time to experience intoxicated drivers, who may swerve and stop unexpectedly. It’s also when you’ll encounter the most tired drivers, whose reaction time may be diminished. You need to be aware of these factors and give other drivers more space than you think they need.
Many animals are nocturnal, meaning they are more active during the night and prone to darting across the road without warning. You need to be aware of your local wildlife and how they might behave at night. Deers, moose, and raccoons all present their own dangers when jumping in front of a motorcycle, and you need to be prepared to react.
While potholes are an issue at any time, they are difficult to spot during the night. You need to take extra caution and ensure your headlights provide you with an ample view of the road in front of you. If you can’t track the road, then potholes may hit you by surprise.
This is obvious but no less worth mentioning. Visibility is very poor at night because it is dark out, which can be further compounded by fog, rain, or a lack of streetlights/city lights. With less visibility, you may have more trouble spotting any of the hazards mentioned above, but you might also have trouble seeing sharp turns, quick stops, other drivers, and more.
Guide to Riding a Motorcycle at Night
Now that we’ve examined the major hazards of riding at night, let’s look at how you can prepare for, detect, and react to these hazards. Follow these tips to ride at night safely:
First thing’s first, we do not recommend night-riding to inexperienced riders. Night-riding presents the rider with dangers that might be above their ability to react safely. Before you take to the streets at night, we strongly recommend that you are a comfortable and experienced rider during the day. While most areas don’t have specific laws which make this a requirement, it is almost always considered good practice. Night riding won’t be enjoyable if you find yourself completely overwhelmed.
Drive and Ride Defensively
Defensive night-driving is safe night-driving. Defensive driving is all about taking a proactive approach to any hazards you may encounter, ensuring that you’ll have enough time to react. The best way to do this is to drive slowly and cautiously and give yourself extra space between other vehicles. Because it is more difficult to detect threats at night, both of these practices give you extra time to react to any hazards that may present themselves unexpectedly.
Never ride faster than the space you can see in front of you, meaning that all visible roads (illuminated by your headlamps) should be within stopping distance. This behavior ensures that everything you can see you can react to, and there are no invisible threats.
Visibility to Others
Visibility is crucial for safe night-riding. But visibility means more than your own ability to see the road. It also refers to other drivers’ ability to see you. As a night rider, you want to do everything you can to make you and your bike visible, which often means going above and beyond your bike’s headlamps.
You can outfit your bike with wheel lights, underglow lights, brake light flashers, and much more. You’ll also want to purchase motorcycle clothing that has built-in reflective properties so that other cars’ headlights illuminate your presence. We even recommend you go one step further and purchase reflective tape/decals to outline your saddlebags, helmet, and other areas that protrude from your bike.
Ensure You Can See
Of course, once you ensure you are visible, you also need to make sure you can see! As mentioned above, you never want to “override” your headlamps, which means that you should never have a stopping distance that is greater than the distance you can see in front of you. You need to be able to react quickly to everything you can see.
Also, use your high beams whenever possible. High beams allow you a much greater field of view. It increases your view of not only the road in front of you but the area surrounding the road (you can spot any animals that may dart out). Whenever you aren’t obstructing the view of any drivers/pedestrians, it makes sense to use your high beams in rural areas.
Also, be sure you are using a visor that doesn’t hinder your sight. Get a clear visor that doesn’t block light, and be sure it is clean/scratch-free before riding. You can even purchase anti-fog visors which improve your visibility in foggy conditions.
Be Prepared and Aware
Make sure you are prepared for the elements before you head out for your ride. This means Ensure you are prepared for the elements before you head out for your ride, which means checking the forecast and only hitting the road if conditions are reasonable. If the forecast calls for torrential downpours or complete fog coverage, it’s probably not a good idea to go for a night ride.
Also, try to become keenly aware of the hazards in your area. If you spot a pothole, remember it for next time. The same goes for sharp turns, sudden dips, and so on. The more you know, the less will catch you by surprise.
Cautious Considerations to Keep in Mind
The bottom line is that you can never guarantee safety while riding a motorcycle at night, just as you can never guarantee safety while hitting the road in any vehicle. This is why it is so important to be aware of any potential hazards and to do everything in your power to allow yourself to react to these hazards. Night-riding will always be a risk, but it doesn’t need to be an unreasonable risk.
Know how to prepare, know how to detect, and know how to react. There may be new considerations every time you hit the road at night, but an experienced rider can adapt to them. Follow our tips above, but also use your common sense.
Thanks for reading our guide to motorcycle night riding. You may encounter many specific hazards at night, and you need to prepare for any of them. Follow our guide above to get prepared, anticipate hazards and respond accordingly.
People Also Ask
Before we wrap up, let’s check out a few of the most frequently asked questions about motorcycle night riding.
Is It Safe To Ride a Motorcycle At Night?
That depends on many factors. Your experience level, preparedness, visibility/visibility to other drivers, and everything else mentioned above! Riding a motorcycle is always a risk, but proper preparation, awareness, and execution can help to minimize those risks. It’s all about how you approach it.
What Time Of Day Do Most Motorcycle Accidents Happen?
The answer to this question is a little misleading. Most accidents occur between 3 pm and midnight, but that’s likely because this is when the highest concentration of drivers is on the road. While it’s a good statistic to keep in mind, you should practice individual preparedness.
Is a Flashing Light Better When Riding at Night?
No, we wouldn’t recommend flashing motorcycle lights for night riding. Flashing lights will both impede your own vision (by not fully lighting the road in front of you) and distract drivers around you. Flashing lights are legal in all 50 States during the day, but you should not use them at night.