When I first learned to ride in the mid 1980s, the process of getting licensed required that I first get a “temporary license.” I wasn’t allowed to ride after dark and couldn’t carry a passenger.
Nighttime riding was restricted—and still is some states—because it requires extra awareness and vigilance.
Reduced visibility for both the motorcycle rider and other drivers make skilled and experienced riding that much more important. Being prepared with proper equipment helps as well.
Here are five areas of expertise that both new and seasoned riders should master for riding safely at night.
Visibility is obviously reduced at night for all roadway users, but be aware that as a cycle rider your presence is much smaller and you are much harder to see. Increasing the visibility of your motorcycle and yourself can be done in several ways:
- Wear bright colored or better yet, reflective clothing.
- Add reflective striping to your motorcycle and your helmet.
- Consider adding lighting to your motorcycle. If it does not already have three lights in the front (two spotlights and a headlight). Add super bright LED lighting to increase both your road presence and your ability to see upcoming road hazards. You can also replace your tail/brake light with an LED bulb for as little as $10, which helps with rear visibility.
- Drive slower than you do during the day to allow for the reduced visibility. This will give you more time to react to changing road conditions and road hazards.
2. Lane Position
Riding near the centerline gives you more room for evasive maneuvering of your motorcycle. It also increases the likelihood that other drivers will see you.
Always be aware of other drivers drifting into your lane and be ready for countermeasures to avoid collisions.
Animals tend to roam more freely at night. Deer, raccoons, possums and skunks are just some of the animals you might encounter both live and as road kill.
Keeping an eye out for animal’s eyes and movement can help you to avoid unwanted encounters.
Where you see one animal crossing the road there is likely to be another so always slow down and be ready to take action.
When roadkill is present, avoid running over the animal. If you have no choice but to hit it, be sure to have your motorcycle in an upright position and coast over the bump. Do not brake or accelerate while driving over it.
4. Eye Protection
Be sure to have good night time glasses or goggles. A good pair of clear glasses will help you to be able to see well.
Glasses that are vented prevent fogging up and wrap around glasses keep your eyes from drying out and watering.
After dark the temperature drops and you will want to be prepared for the additional layers of clothing you will likely need to stay comfortable.
I carry gauntlet style gloves to keep the air from blowing up my sleeves, a neck warmer, and leather chaps to make myself comfortable.
Night riding can be enjoyable and safe if you are prepared and plan ahead.
Learn more from Lesson - Riding a Motorcycle at Night, Advice and Tips. Keep in mind that it’s from England where they ride on the left side of the road, but the information is solid.