Motorcycle visibility increases Safety

Motorcycle Visibility

About half of all motorcycle crashes in the United States involve another motor vehicle. In many cases, the driver of the other vehicle never saw the motorcycle rider-or didn’t see him or her until it was too late. However, in a multi-vehicle crash, both drivers share responsibility.

While it is critical that other drivers watch carefully for motorcyclists and share the road, it is equally critical that motorcycle riders make themselves as conspicuous as possible.

"Riders have a responsibility to be visible in traffic," said Pat Hahn, Minnesota Motorcycle Safety Center (MMSC) spokesperson. Too often, riders blame other drivers for not paying attention, when in reality, riders also play a role. "It takes two to tango. If you’re concerned about getting run over, you’ve got to do your part," said Hahn.

The 2008-2010 "Go High-Viz!" Rider Conspicuity Campaign was produced by MMSC staff with assistance from a citizens’ advisory group, conspicuity product retailers and volunteer motorcyclists. The Web-based campaign objectives are to educate motorcycle riders about conspicuity products, techniques and strategies; increase motorcyclists’ use of reflective vests, white helmets, brightly colored clothing and motorcycle modifications 10 percent by 2010; and reduce the number of multi-vehicle crashes in which other drivers "don’t see" motorcycle riders 10 percent by 2010.

Motorcycle riders place great value on their individuality and freedom of choice, and each rider has a riding system that’s unique-even if that means having no system at all. The campaign strategy allows for individual choice: visitors to HighViz.org can choose from up to 20 recommendations to increase their conspicuity, each with a point value. Visitors are encouraged to choose techniques that best fit into their riding system and add up points to become a "Perfect 10." An optional computer quiz gives visitors a baseline conspicuity rating between 1 and 10 and offers recommendations to reach 10 points.

The top ten tips for increasing rider conspicuity are:

1. Wear a fluorescent/reflective safety vest
2. Wear a white helmet
3. Wear a brightly colored jacket
4. Use strategic lane positioning
5. Use a headlight modulator
6. Flash your taillight
7. Wear reflective materials
8. Use movement
9. Use auxiliary driving lights
10. Use hand signals

Campaign evaluation takes three forms: Web metrics, motorcycle owner surveys and crash data. Since the March 2008 launch, the High-Viz Web site has logged more than 90,000 visitors from 100 countries, bumping the number of visitors to the MMSC site 17 percent and the number of page views an astounding 334 percent. A mail-in survey conducted before, during and after the campaign will measure riders’ use of high-visibility clothing and motorcycle modifications.

Finally, a comparison of crash factors "failure to yield right of way" and "driver inattention/distraction" attributed to other drivers in multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes will be evaluated, along with the number of multi-vehicle motorcycle crashes pre- and post-campaign. A final report should be available on the High-Viz website by summer of 2011.

(A copy of the January 2008 baseline survey report, which also contains interesting demographic data, is available here.)