Riding in the dark can be much harder than riding in good light conditions. Even motorcyclists who have been riding for years can struggle once the sun goes down. However, it is not always possible to avoid riding at night. If you do need to ride at night, for whatever reason, you should try to follow these safety tips to help to keep you safe.
Adjusting your Headlights
Before riding in the dark, you must make sure that your headlight is set up properly. The way that your weight sits on a bike can affect where the headlight illuminates, so you should make sure that it is right for your needs. Sit your bike about 90 metres from a wall and point your light towards it. Sit on the bike and make sure that the beam illuminates the ground and the wall when you have full beams on. Get off the bike and adjust the headlights if they are not right. Sit back on the bike and try again until the beam is illuminating the right area.
Maintaining your headlight
You should also take the time to clean your headlight and taillight properly. Scratches or marks can obscure the lens and can make the beam less efficient. Condensation in the lens can have a surprising effect when you are driving in the dark, because the water droplets will affect the way that this light refracts. In addition to this, condensation in the lens can lead to rusting or premature bulb failure. If you spot any condensation in your lenses you should take action as soon as possible.
On average, a motorcycle headlamp should be replaced at least once every 18 months. The lamp will begin to dim over time, which can be dangerous when you are relying on one lamp alone. If you do a lot of night time driving, it is a great idea to carry a spare bulb with you, because you could be stranded if your bulb goes suddenly when you are in a very dark place.
If you start to feel tired you should always pull over somewhere safe to take a rest. Take a break and have some coffee if necessary. Maintaining concentration when you are on your bike is highly important. Dazzling headlights from another vehicle can also break your concentration and can affect the amount that you are able to see on the road ahead. If an approaching car has dazzlingly bright headlights on their vehicle you should try to focus your vision on the white line in the centre of the road instead to avoid being left with ghostly flash blindness spots.
Riding at night is likely to be colder than riding during the day. A drop in body temperature can reduce your ability to concentrate and focus. Take warm clothing so that you can put on extra layers to reduce the risks from dropping body temperature.
Late Night Hazards
The hazards that you experience after dark are likely to be slightly different to the ones that you experience during the day. One of the hazards that are more common at night is drunken people. Drunk drivers do not behave in the rational way that other drivers behave, so it is much harder for you to react to what they are doing. They may not be as mindful about how they position their car in relation to your bike and they may find the single rear light on your bike to be confusing. The best way to stay safe around drunk drivers is to give them as much space as possible. If you suspect that there is a drunk driver ahead of you or behind you on the road, you should pull off the road to allow them time to move away from you. You can report the driver’s details to the police if you are concerned for others.
Be careful at traffic lights or junctions because these are the areas where they are least likely to follow the rules of the road. You should also be careful when you are driving through built-up areas, because drunken pedestrians can also be unpredictable. It is safer to drive more slowly when passing through towns at night time.
You are also more likely to encounter animals on the road if you ride your motorcycle at night time. Like drunken people, they can enter the road in front of your bike and behave in an unpredictable manner. In the UK, roads are often signposted if larger animals like deer are likely to make their way into the road, so drive more slowly if you see any of these signs. Be aware of any sudden movements in the hedgerows which border the road, because this could signify that an animal has been spooked.