Things can get sketchy on the road after the sun goes down. Nearly a quarter of all fatal motorcycle accidents take place between the hours of six and nine PM, and more than half take place between three PM and midnight.
As any seasoned motorcyclist knows, the greatest threat to your safety while on the road isn’t you but unwary motorists, and it’s been proven that more of those are about after-hours. The number of drunk drivers on the road more than doubles at night, and you’ve still got to look out for the sober ones.
If you do choose to ride at night, there are several ways to make it less dangerous. It’s important that you understand the risk and take steps to make yourself as safe as possible when you’re out there, because unlike your friends in cars, you don’t have the protection of a metal shell and airbags.
Here are some ways to keep safe during nighttime riding:
- Increase your visibility: Cranking up the lumens on your bike will provide a two-fold increase in safety. First, you’ll be able to see the road better, which means advanced knowledge of cars, animals and road imperfections. Second, other motorists will be able to spot you more easily. Even if you’ve upgraded your headlight, there are lots of great ways to add to your visibility.
- Prepare for the cold: Whereas riding during the day can be balmy and hot, you can easily find yourself at the mercy of chilling winds during the night. Use layers of insulation like a skull cap, glove liners and jacket liner, which can all be easily stowed during the day when not in use, to stay warm.
- Reference road markers: It can be difficult to read the road if there’s a fast-approaching car with its highbeams on. When you find yourself in this situation, use the dashed centerline of the road as a point of reference.
- Slow down: You can’t react as quickly at night because of the low visibility, but drunk drivers and animals are much more likely to cut you off. Keep a slower pace than you would during the day and you’ll be thankful if you need to get out of the way quickly.
- Carry repair equipment: Particularly if you’re riding in rural areas, you won’t have fellow motorists to lend a hand if something breaks. Make sure you’ve got the right tools in your kit to fix a flat tire or replace a broken light bulb. Carry a flashlight to use if you have to play mechanic, and if you use tubed tires, run slime in them to defend against punctures.
- Ride with friends: If you can, bring a group with you to establish greater presence on the road. It will help make sure drivers notice you.
Remember that by taking the dangers of nighttime riding into account, you’re helping make the road a safer place for everyone out there. Riding under the stars can be a blast, but be sure to keep these tips in mind so the experience isn’t ruined for you or fellow motorists.