You and your motorcycle

Being seen on the road

Car drivers who collide with motorcycles often say they didn't see the motorcycle. This is because the outline of a motorcycle and rider is much smaller than that of other vehicles, especially when seen from the front or back.

As a motorcyclist, it is safer to assume a driver has not seen you.

This section describes things you can do to make yourself more visible to other road users.

Headlight

Riding with your headlight on dip (low beam) during the day makes you and your motorcycle more noticeable.

If your motorcycle was manufactured on or after 1 January 1980, you must use your headlight on dip (low beam) or daytime running lamps during daylight hours.

Clothing

Brightly coloured, reflective helmets and clothing will help make you more visible. White, orange, yellow and red are the colours most easily seen.

Reflective tape on your clothing or motorcycle can also help others to see you.

It is highly recommended that you wear a reflective vest at all times. A reflective vest is more noticeable to drivers behind you than a tail light is.

Horn

You should use the horn on your motorcycle to attract attention in a situation that could be dangerous.

For example, if a vehicle is in the lane next to you and you are both coming up behind a vehicle ahead, the vehicle alongside you may pull out to pass. A glance at the front wheels will tell you that they are pulling out. Toot your horn in case the driver hasn't noticed you.

Use your horn as a warning

Use your horn as a warning

Position

You can use your position on the road to make sure others see you.

For example, by riding in a position behind the right-hand wheels of the vehicle ahead (at the correct following distance), you are more easily seen in the rear-vision mirrors of the vehicle in front and are therefore more likely to be noticed. This right wheel-track position also allows you to be seen by oncoming vehicles, and for you to see them.

As well as helping you to be seen, riding in this lane position allows you to avoid oil slicks that form in the centre of lanes and also discourages lane-sharing by other motorists.

Ride where you can be seen

Ride where you can be seen

There are, however, many occasions when you will need to change your lane position because of changing traffic conditions.

Here are some other ways you can ride your motorcycle where others can see you.

  • Don't ride in another driver's blind spots (the areas of road on either side of their vehicle that don't show up in the vehicle's mirrors). Instead pass the other vehicle or drop back.
Don't ride in a driver's blind spots

Don't ride in a driver's blind spots

  • When you pass a vehicle, get through the blind spots as quickly as you can. Approach cautiously, but once you are alongside, speed up and pass quickly.
  • When you approach an intersection, as a general rule, keep to the right of your lane where you can more easily be seen by drivers coming from your left.
Be seen at intersections

Be seen at intersections

  • If an oncoming vehicle seems ready to turn across your path:
    • slow down as you approach the vehicle - this will give the driver of the vehicle more time to see you and will also give you more time to stop if necessary
    • move slightly left in your lane and look to see where the driver is looking
    • watch the vehicle's wheels for early warning that it is pulling out in front of you
    • if there are stationary vehicles blocking the driver's line of vision, take extra care and, if necessary, sound your horn
    • be prepared for the unexpected.
Be sure the driver of the turning vehicle has seen you

Be sure the driver of the turning vehicle has seen you

Speed

Accelerating fast or travelling over the speed limit may cause other road users to miss seeing you or misjudge your speed.

For example, a driver about to turn may see the way is clear but, before the turn is completed, a fast-moving motorcycle can suddenly appear and change the traffic situation. This can lead to a crash.

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Last updated: 25 June 2010