For many motorcycle riders, an evening cruise can be exhilarating. While there are benefits to riding during low-traffic times, driving in the dark comes with certain safety concerns that aren't a worry during daylight hours. New nighttime riders should prepare for these challenges before their first ride beneath the stars.
Understanding Night Vision
Humans aren't creatures of the night, but biology did throw us a bone: we have a small number of receptors in the eyes designed for low-light situations. These receptors cause pupils to dilate in darkness. This is a double-edged sword for motorcyclists. Once those receptors detect light, pupils grow larger to take it in. This makes it difficult to adjust the eyes to account for oncoming headlines and bright streetlights. Then, it takes even more time to readjust after the light has passed. Riders should avoid riding in high-traffic areas and night and looking directly at oncoming headlights; it can help to look at the shoulder of the road instead.
Account for Slowed Reaction Times
It's no wonder that reaction times become slower at night as the eyes constantly readjust to different light levels. Plus, the darkness hides many obstacles that might be visible during daylight, such as poor road conditions. It will take longer for riders to react to these safety issues, which often pop up with minimal warning. Riders should take it easy and approach every night ride cautiously.
Prepare for Animals
Animals tend to be particularly active at night when traffic slows and noises die down. Hitting one can do significant damage to that new motorcycle, so it's important to exercise extreme caution, especially when driving near wooded areas. No one wants their bike to end up in the shop after their first evening ride, so following the posted speed limit and being prepared to come to a quick stop can reduce the chance of damages from an encounter with an unpredictable animal.
It's not just bikers that have a hard time seeing at night: drivers of other vehicles can have a hard time seeing and recognizing motorcycles, too. Reflective gear is a must for improving a motorcycle's visibility at night. Opt for white or red gear, both of which are easily recognizable as signs of danger (think: stop signs, railroad crossings). Reflective tape can be purchased from your local motorcycle dealer and added to riding gear and the bike itself. In addition to new and used bikes, Tecumseh Harley-Davidson® carries a large selection of safety gear for protection during nighttime rides. Our team will be happy to share their tips for riding at night. We can also connect you to the local Tecumseh H.O.G® group, comprised of experienced riders to promote motorcycle safety. Visit Tecumseh Harley-Davidson® today or call us at 517.423-3333 to learn more.