How riders can have high visibility

2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure

You don’t need a high visibility vest to become more visible on the road, says the Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia.

They say it’s more about road position and looking out for hazards that can obscure you.

 They have produced an excellent motorcycle rider education brochure called Make Yourself Visible which you can use to make yourself more visible and safer.

You may not agree with everything they say (if not, please leave a comment below) but even debating road safety issues is better than ignoring them! 

Thanks to the MRAWA, we have been allowed to reproduce the brochure here in full for the benefit of all riders.

Make Yourself Visible

As a rider we’ve all seen (or heard about) motorcyclists crashing into cars, or having near misses. Usually the car driver apologises and says, “sorry mate I didn’t see you” (SMIDSY).

Well, the truth is sometimes they just don’t see the bike. And it’s not always because they weren’t looking. We are relatively small objects on the road, and it’s not always easy for car drivers to see us. So it’s important to get into a position on the road that will give other road users the best chance of seeing us, and avoiding a crash.

This booklet highlights some of the situations that we find ourselves in on a daily basis, and focuses on the choices we make regarding our road position to help prevent a collision. You’ll be shown the recommended road positions that increase the chances of yourself being seen by other road users, and reduce the blind spots that we sometimes find ourselves in.

It’s important to understand that while you may be able to see a car at an intersection, the driver may only be able to see a small portion of you, due to obstacles such as parked cars, vegetation etc.

These illustrations are based on real motorcycle and scooter crashes, and the photos highlight some of the challenges we have to make ourselves seen by other road users. Please note there are many more blind spots on our roads.

Remember, you should be aware of your position on the road at all times and try to imagine what the driver can see from their position behind the wheel… and think – can they see me clearly?

2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

The red motorcycle in the illustrations above and below is in the turning car’s blind spot while the yellow motorcycle can clearly be seen.

2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibilityA rider can become lost behind signage.  Be aware and consider a change of lane position.

2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

A pedestrian on the roadway may make you invisible to cars pulling out of side streets. 

2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Posts, trees and high vegetation can hide a rider at intersections.2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure

Road position can help, consider left of your lane or right of your lane.2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Where should I ride?

2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Which is my safest position?2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

This van is parked legally, however it would still block the view of the car pulling out of the side street. Be alert to this, change your position on the road to give yourself a better chance of being seen.2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

The red motorcycle can not be seen by the car in side street.2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Roadworks, roadwork signs and vehicles on footpaths can make it difficult for a car driver at this intersection from seeing a motorcycle or scooter on the through road. A change on position on this road may help, but please be alert.2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Be aware of cars turning in this situation. 2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Intersections are some of the most high risk situations for riders.2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Roundabouts reduce riders’ invisibility due to our smaller size and large car pillars. Make sure the driver’s face is clearly looking at you.2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Beware mirror blind spots.2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

What is the safest position for the rider?2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Be aware – columns, GPS or mobile phone holders in vehicles between you and the driver’s line of sight can make you invisible to them. 2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Red motorcycle is in a dangerous position on the road. 2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochure visibility

Rubbish bins placed on the edge of roadways can easily hide an approaching motorcycle or scooter.2 Motorcycle Riders Association of Western Australia Become More Visible brochurevisibility

9 Comments

  1. The road position that makes you most visible to the hazard is also (usually) the road position that gives you the best vision of potential hazards. As mentioned above, look ahead, plan ahead, actively position yourself to get the best view and be most easily seen and give yourself a buffer for safety.

    There’s a bit of a trend to bag hi vis gear, “they only see it if they’re looking ” but people need to understand that the brain is an image processing machine that looks for shapes and outlines it recognises first. If the brain doesn’t recognise the shape it may well ignore the object and it becomes invisible in real terms. As mentioned above lateral movement helps as we are programmed to seek out movement. Yet bike and gear manufacturers still insist on marking up their gear with lots of flashy brightly coloured patterns that are effectively urban camouflage. Some gear manufacturers actually sell gear in urban camouflage. Try to buy bikes and gear in solid colours that give a more readily recognised shape. Yes, even if it’s black. Black is still a high contrast colour against many backgrounds. I may instantly recognise the blue and white pattern that marks up a GSXR but the little old dear turning out of the shopping centre isn’t.

    Although there is a limited amount of data to support it, (there has been at least one study), a plain white helmet is one of the most easily recognisable shapes around. The bike and the rest of the riding gear is often hidden behind cars but a white helmet sticking up is surprisingly visible. The most visible riders on the road in my opinion are posties. Plain white helmet and high vis gear. I pick them up way before other riders. Just my observation.

  2. Hi all
    I think that the solution is obvious, move out of the grey hidden area.
    Most times by accelerating out of it or if that’s not an option back off or move sideways.

    If you can’t get out of it,
    1/ Cover your brakes and horn
    2/ Watch very closely but not with all your concentration.
    3/ Look for an escape route if needed.
    4/ Be aware of what’s going on around you.

  3. all good points. i believe in many ways modern car contributes to rider being more invisable. it used to be (as a car driver) if you looked in your rear mirror and saw lights you knew it was a bike or a volvo coming from a long way off, these day every other car runs daytime running lights and bikes get lost in it. this article mentions roof pillars, no wonder they are so big they are packed full of air bags, I have a corolla and you could loose a semi behine the drivers pillar.
    i run a headlight modulator aswell, but not all the time only when I consider myself at high risk, for exaple at dawn or dush with the sun behind you, all cars see is glare so the modulator helps you stand out

  4. I agree with Nigel – a nice little write-up of the problems, but few practical solutions.

    Doing stuff to be “more visible” is pointless – you are still relying on other road users to process the fact that you exist, that they could hurt you and that they should do something(or not do something) about it.

    As Nigel noted – none of the bikes in the “danger zone” had a buffer between themselves and hazards; funnily enough the “good guys” were in a good spot, not just for visibility but for an active buffer between themselves and hazards.

    Eg – one of the examples had a bike in the left side of the left hand lane – bad for visibility, but much more precarious due to car doors, people/animals walking onto the road from between parked cars or cars that just want to pull out onto the road.

    You cannot rely on other road users to keep you safe – you can help them along, but you cannot rely on them. Take charge of your destiny!!! (uplifting quote(tm)).

    Be visible, maintain a buffer area, plan ahead and be prepared for idiots to do idiot things. Be prepared to let them go ahead and do idiot things without being involved yourself.

    One little visibility trick not mentioned is to do a little weave in your lane – the lateral movement disinguishes the bike from the background clutter, makes it obvious that something is moving and pretty flashy moving things attract attention. From the riders point of view it offers a differing perspective of the road ahead, helping you to identify hazards, and riding in a straight line is boring anyways.

    When preparing to pass a car in another lane on a multilane road, make a weave as you approach – pop into the drivers field of vision before you get to their blind spot and then buffer through their blind spot(but don’t hang in there – keep going).

  5. It’s a good pamphlet but it doesn’t offer any solutions.

    In most of the examples above the “hidden” motorcycle has not “buffered away” from a potential hazard. He should have recognised that there were sidestreets or turning vehicles and re-positioned himself in his lane to the side opposite to the hazard (right wheel track for side streets on the left etc).

    Most bikes are also show following the car in front way closer than a 3 second gap.

  6. I have been riding motorcycles for more than 35 years, I have had one crash when I was 17 (my fault), I learnt a valuable lesson then. Since then I have not had a crash,though there have been many close calls all of which have been car drivers not looking properly when pulling out or changing lane or coming round corners on the wrong side.. Drivers need to be held more accountable when accidents occur, the reports always read ” another motorcycle crash, motorcyclist need more education” when in fact it’s the car drivers who need more education. Most motorcyclists first get there car licence then the bike liecence ( or vice versa) this makes us all more educated and aware than most other drivers, yet we are always blamed when something goes wrong ( sorry, I didn’t see you, you need to be more visible) well what about drivers , you need to look better, do your shoulder checks ( not just look in the mirror ) and be more aware.
    I agree that rider position is important , and in the examples there are only one or two cars for each situation, yet on the road there are usually much more vehicles to be aware of so its not only position, but looking well ahead and planning. What really annoys the hell out of me is, where is the book for car drivers to be more aware of motorcycles, why are they never mentioned when something goes wrong, it’s always ” another motorcycle crash, motorcyclists need more education,” when in fact it was the car driver who didn’t look or do a shoulder check before changing lane. Someone needs to start educating the other drivers.

    1. +1
      Yes the amount of useful education given to drivers is woeful
      There is heaps of propaganda that supports the speed kills bs such as wipe off five and (fall asleep at the wheel) stay alive or every k over is a killer and other dishonest and misguided attempts to educate drivers but there’s no did you miss it? Miss what the red light you just ran through before you hit the xxx.
      What xxx? Type of education or gee it’s wet is it ok to pull out in front of that bike with the semi behind it? Type of education no we get drivel that supports the party line and little else. Who would hope that the morons who text or selfie and drive would find a tree or cliff without taking anyone else with them as there is no amount of education to help anyone that stupid.

  7. This is only a tiny part of why drivers sometimes don’t see you and only a tiny part of what you should be doing.
    All ways expect that they don’t see you especially when they seem to be staring right at you!
    Don’t just sit there move about, even if cruising down the freeway don’t just stick to one part of the lane. Never ride beside a truck stay behind until you can get all the way past I even do this in my car I’ve seen too many YouTube videos of trucks running over cars and bikes because they sat in the blind spot. Remember the throttle is your friend, even though we are bombarded with the lie that speed kills to the point that the speedometer is now the number one killer distraction twisting the throttle instead of hitting the brake can save your life. Just to clarify why speed kills is a lie, speed is not dangerous unless there is a circumstance that makes it so, a wet road , pedestrians a congested intersection fog or as we are conned into thinking is the big killer driving at an excessively high speed above the limit.
    But the biggest killer speed is that which is too fast for the circumstances but actually below the limit.

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