Get a Driver's Attention While Riding Your Motorcycle

Tip #189 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

motorcycle passing an automobile

Texting, phone calls, narcolepsy, general ineptitude—automobile drivers may not be deliberately trying to kill you, but they can do a fine job of it without trying. Your defense? First, get as far away from them as possible—especially their blind spots. Second, be conspicuous. In other words, let them know you’re around.

SOUND Loud pipes? Some riders think they save lives. Not us—we've had too many idiots wake us up in the middle of the night blasting around on their loud ego enhancers. But loud horns? Big fan—we like them loud enough to have physical recoil.

CLOTHING Two words—bright colors. Especially your helmet. A bright construction-worker-style vest is an adequate substitute if you can't stomach a fluorescent pink jacket.

LIGHTS Blinking lights are best. A pulsating headlight may be legal in your area. And you can find bright blinking clip-on LEDs at any corner bicycle shop.

REFLECTIVITY The better riding suits and jackets incorporate large reflective areas. For helmets, you can apply reflective stickers. And that construction worker's vest will often have reflective patches, too.

MOVEMENT As predators, humans are hard-wired to spot movement. Droning along at the same speed as the cars around you makes you invisible. Moving in your lane, speeding up and slowing down and (best of all) passing the cars makes you more visible.

MIRRORS Don't presume a driver ever checks his or her mirrors, but position yourself where they'll see you if they do look.