Getting hit from behind is probably one of the most annoying things that can happen out on the road. On a motorcycle, however, it can be deadly. Avoiding this simple type of collision is important, but much more crucial if you are on a motorcycle.
Rear end collisions can happen in a number of situations. They can happen while the vehicle in front is moving slightly, but are more likely to occur when the vehicle in front is making a quick stop, and even more likely to occur when the vehicle in front is already stopped. This is because stationary objects don’t command quite the same amount of attention that objects in motion do.
Since a motorcycle is smaller than a car, this visibility aspect carries more importance. Thus, you want to make sure that you are as visible as possible. Of course, start with what you wear. If black is your thing, then you’ll need to change your thing. A bright jacket and helmet are the easiest places to start. White is a very good standard choice. The one thing probably more visible is hi-viz. You can opt for a vest or a completely hi-viz jacket or full suit. Some helmets are even offered in the vibrant option. Only a few pants offer enhanced visibility, but many boots come with reflective panels on the back.
There isn’t much real-estate on the back of your motorcycle for reflectors, but use whatever room you have. Avoid fender eliminators and alternate license plate mounting methods that eliminate the reflector. Yeah, it might not look as cool, but it certainly looks cooler than a bike that’s been pressed into an accordion. If you have room to place some reflective tape anywhere on the rear half of your motorcycle, then do so. Cut out some stylish shapes and patterns for some added pizzazz if you wish. If a brighter, aftermarket tail light is available for your motorcycle, then consider switching out your stock unit. LEDs can offer you extra brightness as well as extra longevity.
An active way for you to enhance your visibility is double-tapping your brake light. This is a neat little trick that serves as an attention getter. This requires a little extra attention and thinking ahead on your part, but you quite simply give your brake lever a pair of quick double taps before you actually apply braking. As a result, any motorist that is behind you should take note of the fact that you are stopping and should keep their distance. If you are at a stop and a motorist is pulling up behind you, then double tap your brake light a couple of times while they are still at a safe distance.
While visibility is a big deal, the way you manage your position in traffic can really have an effect as well. First of all, be extra aware by performing constant shoulder checks as well as mirror checks. Your mirrors are the only things immediately telling you what’s going on behind you, so use them as much as possible. If a rear-end collision seems imminent, then having an escape route will be your savior. If you are stopped and there is nothing ahead of you, then you have a little bit of room to work with.
On the other hand, if you are behind another vehicle, then you’ll want to avoid stopping in the middle of the lane. This is because stopping in the center of the lane means that you are at the farthest point from any empty space. Stay on either side of the lane so that you have the opportunity to move forward and aside if you are about to be rear-ended. Unfortunately, lane splitting is not legal in North America (except for California), but if you are forced into a situation where you’ll need to do so in order to escape a collision, then by all means do so. It is much, much better to find yourself in an odd road position than on the ground and/or in between two vehicles.
Not only is getting rear-ended annoying, but it is also scary. Only the luckiest of riders escape unscathed, but injury or death can certainly result from this simple type of collision. The bright side is that because the mechanics are relatively simple, it is possible to avoid it. Take the necessary steps, and you might even go your entire motorcycling life without it happening to you.