How motorcyclists can stay safe on evening rides

Even though the calendar shows we are rapidly approaching the midway point of August -- and the end of summer -- there's still plenty of time left for people to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities from fishing and softball to bicycling and, of course, motorcycling.

Indeed, the coming weeks will undoubtedly see many motorcyclists out on the scenic highways throughout Georgia. While these riders will undoubtedly agree that there is no feeling quite like the open road, they will also undoubtedly agree that the risk posed by negligent motorists never really abates as the summer drags on.

In other words, even though drivers should be accustomed to sharing the roads with motorcyclists by mid-August, the simple truth is that many still aren't looking for them, and still aren't properly judging distances when passing or pulling out from side streets.

As alarming as this reality is during the daytime, consider how much more frightening things must be for those brave men and women who ride their motorcycle during nighttime hours.

In light of this heightened risk posed by negligent drivers at night, the Georgia Department of Driver Services has provided some basic safety tips for motorcyclists to consider when out enjoying an evening ride:

  • Watch your speed: Even though the roads are relatively clear of traffic, riders are advised to drive below the posted speed limit, as it will provide more time to react to hazards that are already harder to see.  
  • Monitor taillights: When following a vehicle, riders are advised to keep an eye on their taillights as they can provide some indication of road conditions. For instance, suddenly bouncing taillights may be indicative of a bump or rough patch of pavement.
  • Keep your high beam on and be reflective: Given the already limited view of the roadway, riders are advised to keep their high beam on whenever they are not following or meeting a passing vehicle. They are also advised to wear bright, reflective clothing and helmets to announce their presence to motorists.
  • Maintain a safe distance: Whether riders realize it or not, the light contrasts their eyes rely upon during the day are either missing or distorted by artificial streetlight during nighttime hours such that their ability to judge speed and distances is not quite the same. As such, experts advise always following at a safe distance (three-seconds or more) and allowing more time for passing.
  • Position yourself safely: In keeping with the idea of limited sight during the evening, experts advise riders to remain in those lanes that provide the best visibility and which lend themselves to enhanced conspicuity.  

As always, it's imperative to remember that if you've been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the reckless actions of a motorist that you do have options for seeking justice.

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