Fall is here. The leaves are just starting to change and we had our first rainy day in a long time. The days are still warm and inviting to riders to get out and enjoy a nice ride, but with autumn comes new hazards to motorcyclists. Obviously, wet leaves, slippery roads and objects or potholes hidden by fallen leaves are a danger to us. But, something we don’t necessarily consider is the change in lighting conditions. As the days get shorter riders should be aware that low light presents an additional hazard. Not only are bikers harder to see but we will have a more difficult time seeing potential hazards in or on the road ahead. For those of us who love taking a ride after work to wind down please be particularly mindful of this since we probably do not realize how dim the lighting actually is or how quickly it gets dimmer.
The best option is to ride more slowly than you would in bright daylight. This will give you more time to see and identify potential hazards and will give other drivers a greater opportunity to see and identify you. You also will give yourself more time to react should something happen. Remind yourself before you ride of the change in daylight conditions and adjust your driving accordingly. If you are unfamiliar with the road ahead, or if you know there are curves or hills coming up, reduce your speed so you can clearly identify any hazards common in autumn and low light conditions and give yourself plenty of time to avoid them.
You might also consider wearing more visible clothing and helmets. I understand that white helmets are much more visible than black and a lime green or orange reflective jacket will make you much more apparent to other drivers.
Finally, remember that the sun rises later and sets earlier than it has the last few months. As the sun gets lower in the sky all drivers have problems with sun glare. Be particularly alert for this in the mornings and evenings as you and the vehicles around you may suddenly round a curve and find yourself looking directly into the sun. Drivers react differently to this sudden blinding glare and you want to be sure to give yourself extra room to maneuver should someone hit their brakes or unexpectedly swerve out of their lane of travel due to the blinding sun.
A great reason to live in this area is the change of seasons, but with each new season comes new hazards to contend with. Please add some of these thoughts to your pre-ride mental checklist and be safe. If you have have any questions, please contact us at Stark & Stark.