A 25-year-old Staff Sergeant assigned to Fort Johnson, Louisiana, died in a PMV-2 mishap 12 September 2023 in Alexandria, Louisiana, at 2134 local. The Soldier was riding while his family followed in a car when a vehicle failed to yield and pulled out in front of him. The Alexandria Police Department (APD) responded and pronounced the Soldier dead at the scene. The Soldier was properly licensed and completed the required Motorcycle Safety Foundation training. The use of personal protective equipment, speed or alcohol is currently unknown. The unit/safety points of contact are waiting for APD to release its final report.
Since FY18, the Army has lost an average of 24 Soldiers a year to PMV-2 mishaps. This mishap was the 34th PMV-2 fatality of FY23 and above the number of fatalities for the same time period last year.
Riding a motorcycle is fun and freeing, but it can also be risky. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists are about 28 times more likely to suffer an accident-related fatality than drivers of other vehicles. And riding at night introduces additional risks.
If you need or want to ride your motorcycle at night, take extra precautions to help protect yourself and others. Here are 10 safety tips you can implement each time you go for a night ride on your motorcycle.
1) Understand the dangers of riding at night
Many road dangers that exist during the day for motorcyclists are amplified at night. For example, it may be harder for other drivers to see you, and you face an increased risk of encountering drunk drivers. Except for the rush hour times of 3–6 p.m., more motorcyclists die in nighttime accidents than during the daylight hours.
Even during the day, other motorists often fail to notice motorcyclists. With little to no light at night, their visibility is more limited, putting you at a higher risk of not being seen until a collision is unavoidable.
As you’d expect, your own ability to see is dramatically reduced at night. Your visibility is often limited to whatever appears in your headlight beams and the lights of other vehicles around you.
2) Make sure your lights are working
If any of the lights on your motorcycle aren’t working or aren’t angled properly, it could severely reduce your ability to see—and other drivers’ ability to see you.
Before you do any night riding, make sure every light on every part of your motorcycle is working. You may need someone to help you check all the lights.
3) Use your high beams
As long as you’re not blinding other drivers, use your high beams as much as possible to reduce eye strain and increase your range of vision.
To avoid shining your high beams at other drivers, switch them off as you approach vehicles going the opposite direction, and turn them off if you’re closely following another vehicle.
4) Don’t look directly at oncoming headlights
As noted above, oncoming headlights can be blinding. Instead of looking directly into them, try looking at the right-edge line on the side of the road ahead. This will keep you within your lane and headed in the right direction. Don’t look down and away—it could cause you to inadvertently steer out of your lane.
5) Consider wearing night riding glasses
While dark-tinted visors or sunglasses work great for bright sunny days, these items can impede your vision at night. Instead, consider wearing yellow-tinted visors, photochromic visors, clear glasses.
6) Clear your helmet’s visor
While it’s easy to ignore some dirt, dead bugs, and smudges on your helmet’s visor during the day, these things can impair your vision at night.
7) Make yourself visible
High-visibility clothing is designed with reflective surfaces and bright fluorescent colors that help make you more visible at night. One study found that motorcyclists who wear high-visibility clothing are 37 percent less likely to be involved in a crash.
Use reflective tape
To make you more visible, consider adding retro-reflective strips of tape to your motorcycle and your riding gear.
Add more lights
8) Leverage the lights of other vehicles
- Brake light flashers: Brake light flashers modify your brake lights to flash rapidly when you apply the brakes.
- LED lights: LED lights are brighter they can help you see farther and make you more visible to other drivers at night.
- Headlight modulator: A headlight modulator switches your low beams from a steady light to a pulsing beam.
- Auxiliary lights: Instead of replacing your current lights, you can add extra lights to your motorcycle.
Your motorcycle’s headlights are limited in how much of the road they can show you. Use the lights from other vehicles to your advantage. If you’re behind another vehicle, scan the road ahead to see if their headlights expose any road hazards, like a pothole or road debris.
9) Maintain safe driving distances
When driving at night, give yourself more time and space between vehicles than you might during the day. With limited visibility, it’s harder to see potential obstacles in front of you. The more space you give yourself to stop, the greater your chances will be of stopping safely and avoiding an accident.
10) Take breaks when needed
Riding a motorcycle at night can be particularly tiring because of the limited visibility and intense concentration needed.
Tips provide by IIHS and Dairyland Insurance.