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Car headlights


allanb

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This is a question from someone who doesn't ride a motor bike, but would like an opinion from those who do.

Whenever the subject of car headlights during the day comes up, we hear the argument that it would make things more dangerous for bikers, presumably because it might be harder to see them if every vehicle had its lights on.  Not being a biker myself I'm in no position to be dogmatic about it, but it really does seem obvious to me that if it's important for the car driver to see every biker, it's equally important for the biker to see every car. 

I'm not trying to re-open the entire argument, but I have one specific question.  Isn't it true that if you're wearing a helmet with a visor, and it's raining (or there's spray coming at you) your vision must be worse than that of a car driver?

(I happen to be in favour of daytime lights for various other reasons - this is only one aspect of the debate.)

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Hmmm, How many times has a bike pulled out straight in front of you

from a side road? Ask any biker and that happens a lot the other way

around. The consequences for the biker are always a lot worse. 

Personally I feel that if all vehicles had their headlights on at all

times then nothing would really stand out like bikes do at the moment.

As

for visibility in the wet , its not a problem. I spray my visor with

aircraft windscreen rain repellant. If all else fails, you can always

lift the visor unlike a car windscreen.
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Just once, in the rain, in UK, I collected him across the front of the car, wrote off the car and didn't do a lot for his leg between the bumper of the car and the crankcase of the bike.

Lights wouldn't have made a difference, he skidded when trying to halt and slid over the junction into my path.

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This is a issue which is subject to extensive debate, and is not always clear cut.

Whilst one school of thought supports maintaining high visibility for motorcycles, another equally valid theory holds that riding defensively on the basis that the motorcycle and rider are invisible is a safer strategy.

One also needs to differentiate replies based on experience in the UK (more congestion, higher urban speeds, lack of respect for 'give way' priority) with those based in France where the situation is quite different.

Preserving daytime headlamp use for motorcycles is just one safety aspect, but it is not a guarantee that a bike will be seen - especially if the other driver isn't looking for it.

 

 

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[quote user="allanb"][quote user="GSman"]How many times has a bike pulled out straight in front of you

from a side road? Ask any biker and that happens a lot the other way

around. [/quote]

So the bike lights don't do any good, then?

[/quote]

Come on, you know perfectly well that's not what I was saying. I agree

with SD's post in that the other driver has to look in the first place

and for the required amount of time to see anything never mind an

oncoming bike. There have been instances where police motorcycles with

flashing blue lights have failed to be seen....

Anyone who has ridden a bike for more than a couple of years and survived has had to develop the art of defensive riding. Adding improve visibilty with a headlight is just an adjunct to this.

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[quote user="GSman"]

Come on, you know perfectly well that's not what I was saying. I agree

with SD's post in that the other driver has to look in the first place

and for the required amount of time to see anything never mind an

oncoming bike. There have been instances where police motorcycles with

flashing blue lights have failed to be seen....

Anyone who has ridden a bike for more than a couple of years and survived has had to develop the art of defensive riding. Adding improve visibilty with a headlight is just an adjunct to this.

[/quote]

I agree 100%. The lights aren't a "cure" in themselves. They just help a bit.  I always try and make eye contact but on faster roads and at a distance this isn't always possible.

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[quote user="GSman"][quote user="allanb"]So the bike lights don't do any good, then?[/quote]

Come on, you know perfectly well that's not what I was saying.[/quote]

Sorry, I put that badly.  I meant that in that situation, if the bike's lights do not ensure that the car driver sees you, the car's lights won't make things any worse - will they?  And they may make it more certain that you will see the car.

Derek3: I'm not arguing against bikes having lights permanently on - I'm arguing in favour of it for all vehicles.

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I have only 37 years of personal biking experience to back up what I'm about to say as reliable statistics are not readily available. Imo (I nearly said humble then) I bet there are only a very small percentage of accidents attributable to bikes not seeing cars. Most impacts where the bike was at fault are due to loss of control or other rider inexperience rather than the big wide piece of car remaining unseen. I therefore fail to see why cars having lights on all the time would improve matters. However, I have on open mind so why not tell us the full story of why you are in favour for all vehicles to have dayrunning lights.

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[quote user="GSman"]I have on open mind so why not tell us the full story of why you are in favour for all vehicles to have dayrunning lights. [/quote]OK, here goes:

There are very many circumstances in which your vehicle is difficult to see unless its lights are on.  I think everybody would agree on darkness, fog, and heavy rain or snow.  Here are some others :

- in brilliant sunshine, if you are in shadow (of trees, for instance) and someone is out in the sunshine driving towards you;

-  when the sun is low at dawn or dusk and shining into the mirrors of cars in front of you (particularly dangerous if they are joining traffic on a motorway);

- when it's sunny but it has been raining, and spray is being thrown up off the road;

- in towns or commercial areas where there are a lot of lights around (not just moving vehicles, but shop signs, etc.)

Even if every driver is fully aware of these, not everybody will decide to turn on their lights at the same time, because not everybody has the same perception of what constitutes "darkness", etc.  Individual judgment varies, even among drivers who think about it - and I'm sure that plenty don't.  So you have a mixture of lit and unlit vehicles, which makes it even more dangerous to be unlit.

I simply think it would be safer to remove the doubt and make some lighting mandatory, all the time on all vehicles.  Whether traditional headlights are the best form of light for the purpose is another question, but I think that ordinary dipped headlights are effective in the absence of something better.

Russethouse is right : I would support the idea even if motorbikes didn't exist.  In fact I think the road users most likely to benefit would be pedestrians. 

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I thought the idea was for everybody to 'see and be seen' - personally I think drivers should use their lights far more than they do, earlier in the evening, in poor weather etc and pedestrians too should really be encouraged to 'wear something light' at night. Several times people in grey or dark clothing have just stepped or stumbled into the road in front of me (are they mad ?) at dusk, or at night.
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I wonder if some sort of strobe light might improve the chances of motorbikes being seen, and even for cars come to that ?

Mind you, when you watch those Police Stop and Road Wars type programmes on TV and you see the stunts some dopey drives pull when there is a police car bearing down on them with full 'two's and blues' going it does make you wonder what sort of semi catatonic state they must be existing in whilst behind the wheel [:-))]

 

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[quote user="Russethouse"]I thought the idea was for everybody to 'see and be seen' - personally I think drivers should use their lights far more than they do, earlier in the evening, in poor weather etc and pedestrians too should really be encouraged to 'wear something light' at night. Several times people in grey or dark clothing have just stepped or stumbled into the road in front of me (are they mad ?) at dusk, or at night.[/quote]

Problem is that most modern japanese machines accelerate faster than an average forumla One car, except they are offenly riden by guys who are not spatially aware...happens when you hit 50 years old!!

All well and good this theory, the headlights being on, only problem is, they arrive very quickly if breaking the speed limits!!

I have ridden bikes all of my life, had two major accidents (off-road and my own stupid fault) most lads on the road are sensible are adhere to the laws of the land, the problem is,lights or no lights, when they take a risk and it does' not pay off, someone will get hurt, not me though i am in a metal shell called a Renault.

Lets start a petition that all pedestrians must wear flouresant clothing eh?

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