Riding in the Danger Zone – Increased Risk of Night Riding for Motorcyclists

Although overall motorcyclist fatalities have fallen over the past few years, that doesn’t mean motorcyclists can let their guard down. Indeed, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the chance that a motorcyclist will die in a collision is almost 30 times greater than a motorist. These stats are even scarier after the sun sets.

As we’re steadily losing daylight hours, motorcyclists need to be extra cautious about the “dangers of the dark.” If you or a loved one loves riding on a motorcycle after sundown, you can’t afford to miss the info below.  

Nighttime Accident Statistics

National traffic statistics should serve as a warning for anyone who enjoys motorcycling at night. According to a recent report, roughly 38 percent of all motorcyclist crashes happen after the sun sets. Another 4 percent of motorcycle accidents occur at dusk, and 1 percent happen at daybreak.  

Recent findings from the III suggest that riding during the night puts motorcyclists at a greater risk of crashes. Indeed, researchers found that 6 PM-midnight accounted for roughly one-third of total motorcyclist accidents. These numbers were even higher on the weekend.    

Nighttime Dangers

The obvious explanation for this spike in nighttime crashes is that people can’t see as well in the dark. In fact, it’s quite common for motorists to say they simply “didn’t see” a motorcyclist before a crash.

But it’s not just other motorists that have a difficult time seeing motorcycles. Motorcyclists also find it challenging to spot obstacles or nocturnal animals that may get in their way. People who live in chilly states have to be extra cautious of black ice and potholes, especially at night.        

Although the lack of visibility is the primary cause for nighttime crashes, there are other reasons motorcyclists have to be extra careful before hitting the roads. Indeed, another significant risk bikers face when riding at night is a higher incidence of DUIs.

According to the NHTSA, the absolute worst time for DUI-related crashes is between midnight and 3 AM. However, DUI stats are usually high between 9 PM – 6 AM. The Motorcycle Legal Foundation also reports 47 percent of fatal DUI crashes involving motorcyclists happens between 9 PM – 3 AM.  

Reducing Nighttime Motorcycle Accidents

The easiest way bikers could prevent a nighttime crash is to wear bright, reflective clothing. In fact, there’s scientific research in The BMJ that suggests motorcyclists who wear flashy clothes can reduce their crash risk by about 37 percent.

You can also purchase a few reflective decals and place them on your bike or helmet. For extra fun, consider using reflective tape on your helmet to create a personalized design.   

Of course, it’s also essential to ensure all of your lights are in working order before traveling during the night. You might also want to consider replacing any incandescent bulbs with brighter LEDs. Not only will LED bulbs help others see you, then often improve motorcyclists’ visibility and cut down on energy expenditure.  

Lastly, motorcyclists should make as much noise as possible when riding at night. Although a growling engine won’t increase your visibility, it will help alert other drivers to your presence.

Importance of Helmets

In addition to the visibility strategies listed above, the easiest way motorcyclists could protect themselves in dark conditions is to wear a DOT-approved helmet. Although motorcyclists don’t need to wear helmets in every state, data from the CDC suggests helmets save approximately 1,800 lives per year. Not only do helmets reduce the risk of death, but they can also prevent the risk of traumatic head injury by almost 70 percent. For your safety, please consider wearing a helmet before revving up your engines this season.      


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