Jump to content

Opinions about flashing lights


Dave P

Recommended Posts

Hi BMWST folks! So I've been watching Dan Dan the Fireman YouTube guy. Excellent appraisals of safe riding techniques. He evaluates crash videos and close calls. I find his advice educational. 
 

Anyway, lately Ive been trying to plan my rides for safety as Dan Dan suggests. I have been blipping my high beam flasher a couple times as I approach a vehicle intending to pull out, maybe right in front of me. My two aux lights are wired into my high beam circuit. Probably not the right way to have it. So when I flash, all 3 lights come on.

 

Ive always wondered if this technique could be misunderstood by the cage driver as "Come on out!" Instead of "Stay where you are!"

 

What opinions does the group share?  Dave

Link to comment
wbw6cos

Great question!

 

On my RT, I have lower fork mounted Darlas that go to 100% with high beams and also are  programmed to strobe.  I use the strobing feature as a warning to stay put.   For the most part, that works pretty well.   

 

On my R 12 C, I have Skene Designs (amber and white) mounted low on the forks, but they do not change intensity.   They have a conspicuity flicker, which I believe helps me get noticed a lot more.   Along with the high beam, I have a set of Euro lights (35 W halogen) below the headlight bucket to come on with high beam use.  I use the high beam switch in a fast-flicking motion to simulate a stobe effect.  That seems to get attention.

 

For the most part,  I just do a quick one-time flicker and see what happens.  IF they continue to pull out, that is when I go all Crazy Ivan (swerving) and strobe or flick the high beams - depending on which bike I am riding.

 

Glad to see a this subject and I cannot wait to see what info others may add to this subject.

 

Cheers,

Link to comment
chrisolson
19 minutes ago, Dave P said:

Ive always wondered if this technique could be misunderstood by the cage driver as "Come on out!" Instead of "Stay where you are!"

 

 I think its more confusing than instructional to the automotive driver.

 

One of the best tips I've read regarding being visible when approaching a vehicle which is on an intersecting road is to "weave slightly within your lane" ... that is to move back and forth ...  human eyes are very good at sensing motion with peripheral vision  .  

 

I've practiced it and under certain circumstances I've been able to see the driver's head turn in my direction.

  • Like 8
Link to comment
MikeB60

I employ the technique described by Chris. Hopefully the movement will capture the drivers attention. Too easy for someone to misinterpret a flash of the lights.  

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Michaelr11

 I know that some folks don’t like headlight modulators, but they are legal in all of the USA and Canada. I ride with them on all of my bikes, pretty much all of time. Every ride I will notice a car driver that brakes hard because they noticed my bike approaching the intersection or driveway. You can see it, when the hood of the car dips down as the brakes are applied. Rarely do I get a negative remark from a driver. Sometimes they will comment because they think my headlight has a loose connection. Once in a while a driver will pull over, perhaps thinking the pulsing light is law enforcement, very rare.  The good thing about the headlight modulators is that you don’t have to plan to use it, like weaving when approaching. It’s on all the time during the day.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
chrisolson
2 hours ago, Michaelr11 said:

The good thing about the headlight modulators is that you don’t have to plan to use it, like weaving when approaching. It’s on all the time during the day.

 

True, but employing the "weave" also makes me more attentive of that car waiting to pull out ... but then again I'm biased ... yes, I'm in the camp of those who don't like headlight modulators. ;) 

 

But, it works for you ...  and ...

 

 :5223:

Link to comment
7 hours ago, Dave P said:

 

I suppose I could get a couple of amber lenses for my Piaa aux lights and just run them all the time. I have seen the weave technique, that's probably a good idea. When I get to a location that I deem to be "orange stage" (DanDan the Fireman) which is higher alert, I could just pop my high beams on with the aux and leave them on. Maybe that's better than flashing. I do have a new high vis helmet. LOVE that, makes me look like a geek! Dave

Link to comment
Skywagon

Wait....all you need is that powerful meep meep horn on our bikes.  You could warn the car at least 3 feet away....If their windows are down.

 

I ride a lot of country roads.  Any time I see someone who might turn, I flick the lights a couple of times and then just put the bright light on until they are no longer a threat.  I truly do assume they are all out to get me.

Link to comment
szurszewski

What I’ve always taught to drivers is that flashing of high beams is not a good communication technique primarily because it does not have a largely accepted message. To some it means, you go ahead, to others it means, I’m coming so you better look out...and to those of us active and/or reformed speeders it means, I just passed a cop back there so you’d better slow down. 
 

If you think someone might pull out in front of you the best first response is to check your rear and reduce speed slightly until you are sure they aren’t going to try to kill you. 
 

The weave is good as it makes you look bigger and closer, but many people simply aren’t  looking. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
BamaJohn

Just asking...is it possible that weaving might reduce the ability to react if the car DOES pull out in front of me?  The thread is a good question, and all the points made are things I've pondered too.

 Recently, I had a Camaro pull out from the right, across one lane and turned head-on into my lane.  I had one nanosecond to respond.  With a truck on my right quarter, and oncoming traffic to my left, hard braking was my option.  No time for flashing lights or horns, just praying he moves over (which he did at the last moment)  I restarted the bike and shakingly went on my way.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Joe Frickin' Friday
18 hours ago, Dave P said:

I have been blipping my high beam flasher a couple times as I approach a vehicle intending to pull out, maybe right in front of me. My two aux lights are wired into my high beam circuit. Probably not the right way to have it. So when I flash, all 3 lights come on.

 

Ive always wondered if this technique could be misunderstood by the cage driver as "Come on out!" Instead of "Stay where you are!"

 

What opinions does the group share?  Dave

 

Yes, I think there's enough ambiguity here that a driver could be confused about your intentions.  I think the only message you can communicate with adequate clarity is "I'm here."  You can do that by riding a big bike with yellow/amber aux lighting (not high-beam, which is overwhelming even in daylight), and swerving within  your lane.  Not just a little - you've got a whole lane to yourself, make use of it, but maybe not so much that you freak out someone driving in the next lane over.   There are of course no guarantees - the driver might simply never look in your direction - but I think these are things that give the best odds of registering in his consciousness if/when he does glance your way.

 

A couple of decades ago I had a headlight modulator, but I did have a number of vehicles pull to the side of the road as I went past, and I always worried about irritating others when I came up behind them. When it finally broke, I didn't replace it.

 

5 hours ago, BamaJohn said:

Just asking...is it possible that weaving might reduce the ability to react if the car DOES pull out in front of me?

 

I think by the time you are close enough to potentially need evasive action, you're close enough that swerving isn't needed anymore.  At that point you are finally presenting a large outline in the other driver's field of view, and your lateral motion in his sight due to not heading directly toward him is enough to catch his eye.  My general practice is to weave with large amplitude when far away, and then taper off when I get close enough to where some kind of evasive action could be needed.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Hosstage

I just assume they are dicks and will probably pull out in front of me, and check speed a bit, check my outs, try to make eye contact, and always ready for evasive action. No weaving, no light flickering (to me it means go ahead, not the message I want to send), and go on my way. If I reacted to every potential situation with extraneous light flashing and weaving, I'd be worn out after a few miles.

Link to comment
Lowndes
11 hours ago, chrisolson said:

 

 ... yes, I'm in the camp of those who don't like headlight modulators. ;) 

 

But, it works for you ...  and ...

 

 :5223:

 

I'm in both camps. 

 

Absolutely HATE having them on a bike behind me because they are so distracting and attention-grabbing.

 

Love them because they WORK helping keep me alive (by being distracting and attention-grabbing). 

 

Have Kisan headlight modulators on two bikes, can activate/deactivate them quickly. If riding solo or leading it is turned ON.   In a group they are OFF.

 

I dislike annoying other riders, but constantly seeing all the cage drivers driving with their noses in a cell phone is "annoying", too.  I wish it was even more annoying to them.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Rockosmith

I have the yellow Darlas wired to strobe with the horn. If they don’t hear me they may see me.  Quicker path to strobing lights than 3 pulls on the flash to pass.  Works for me.

Link to comment

I think my Piaa aux lights are model 1000 series (kinda old) they look like little chrome globes. Have them on my forks. I guess if I wanted to make them yellow (or amber?) I would change out the lenses, right? Or could I replace the halogens with yellow LEDs? Where in the heck would I find yellow lenses for these Piaas? Dave

Link to comment
RogerC60

I have bright amber lights mounted low on the forks. Other riders have often commented how much more visible they make my bike. They're on full-time with no strobe or intensity control. I do a left/right weave if I spot a potential path-of-travel violator.

 

I agree with others who have said that flashing the high beam sends an ambiguous message to other drivers.

Link to comment

Roger- thanks for your comment, I think that's the route I think I'm gonna go. Yellow/ amber aux lights full time with headlight on low, do a little wiggle wiggle if I perceive a threat. You really do notice those yellow lights. Dave

Link to comment
wbw6cos

I failed to mention that my Darlas have the amber lense covers, which helps more than the OEM white auxiliary LEDs.  That particular amber color is why I bought those to install.  They get me noticed.   I do weave a lot before I need to flash.   Good luck on how you proceed after reading all this good info. Cheers!

Link to comment
Bill_Walker

A couple of flashes of the high beams is generally understood as a signal to go ahead, in my experience.  It's what the semi drivers use to tell another truck or vehicle with trailer that's passing them that the passing rig is far enough ahead to return to the right lane in front of the rig being passed.

Re the weave, read the pinned post in this topic "Sorry, mate!  I didn't see you".

  • Like 1
Link to comment
John Ranalletta
8 hours ago, RogerC60 said:

I have bright amber lights mounted low on the forks. Other riders have often commented how much more visible they make my bike. They're on full-time with no strobe or intensity control. I do a left/right weave if I spot a potential path-of-travel violator.

 

I agree with others who have said that flashing the high beam sends an ambiguous message to other drivers.

They're an irritant, at least to me.  Encountered one on a 2-lane on Saturday.  Why irritate oncoming drivers?  If the light captures their attention and people tend to go where they look....

  • Like 1
Link to comment

The key, I suppose is to find the ideal middle ground. I think I'll stop with the flashing of the high beams- sounds like an invitation to have someone pull out. This is why I posted this question initially! So thank you all. I certainly don't want to irritate other drivers, just want to be seen.
 

Ive noticed bicycle riders with cool strobe led flashers. Battery powered, they do 3 quick flashes then 1 flash. Could even be yellow. Maybe something like that would get me (us) noticed without blasting oncoming traffic. Don't want battery powered, would want to wire it in, have a switch. I saw some on ebay that are only 2cm diameter. Those are legal I guess for bicycles, are they legal for motorcycles? Anyone have a setup like this?

 

Right now I Mostly use my Piaa aux lights for my rare nighttime rides. Just wondering... Dave

Link to comment
Michaelr11
3 hours ago, Dave P said:

Those are legal I guess for bicycles, are they legal for motorcycles?


No.  They are not legal for motor vehicles.  You will certainly get noticed by law enforcement.  
 

If your high beam is correctly aimed, a headlight modulator should not be irritating to oncoming traffic.  I have never had a driver confuse the modulator with a courtesy flash to “go ahead”.  Your choice.

Link to comment

I am pretty fully illuminated (headlights, Clearwaters and one other set of lights on each of my bikes). I’ve never had the experience of a flash being interpreted as a signal to pull out ahead of me, but my experience has also been that the yellow Clearwaters make me so highly visible that it hasn’t generally been an issue.

I will share a bit of an embarrassing episode from a couple weeks ago:  I pulled out to pass a number of really slow vehicles a couple of weeks ago and flashed my Ericas. A couple of minutes later, I see a member of the local Gendarmerie (Deputy Sheriff) pulling up behind me. I pulled over and removed my helmet, revealing my silvery mane. 

Though I was moving at a high subsonic speed, he was more concerned about my flashing my lights, and asked me what the heck I was doing. I explained that I did that to alert those who I was passing that I was doing so. He mused over whether that was legal, and said he’d have to call his friends on the Highway Patrol to find out. After running my plates, talking a while about law enforcement, and discussing his retirement plans, he let me go on my way. Not even a warning; just “have a good day and stay safe.” 

Link to comment
wbw6cos

And why is it called Flash To Pass again? 

 

Yeah, those Ericas lumen intensity may have had more to do with it than the flashing, unless they were in the strobe mode.  :whistle:

Link to comment
Pappy35
On 7/12/2021 at 6:23 AM, Joe Frickin' Friday said:

A couple of decades ago I had a headlight modulator, but I did have a number of vehicles pull to the side of the road as I went past, and I always worried about irritating others when I came up behind them. When it finally broke, I didn't replace it.

 

Good for you. Being conscientious is a lost art these days. I think modulators could work well as an attention getter (in the sense that we are discussing here), but the 99% of the time, just droning along in traffic, they are a royal pain in the ass to others that have no choice but to have those annoying flashing lights in their mirrors. I ride and thus fully understand why people want to use them, but I can't stand it when, say, a Goldwing parks itself on my rear bumper in miles-long stop and go traffic and doesn't shut that damn modulator off. All I can think is: "What? that make you feel safer here crawling along at 5 mph? Farging armhole!!!" I used to run LED headlights but ditched them because, based on how many times I've been flipped off seemingly at random, the glare they caused obviously dazzled other drivers.

 

Myself, I use a set of low-mounted Denali S4's (in white, not amber), LED accent lights and turn signal bulbs, an Admore taillight with that flashing center white LED, white helmet, and a Klim Latitude in Hi-Viz. Add to that a set of BMW two-tone car horns (which flash the S4's when sounded) and I rarely ever have any right of way or lane encroachment issues.

Link to comment
Miguel!

I'm all about safety on the ride. I ride for pleasure only and ride 99% of the time during the non traffic hours of the day and choose my routes similarly. I also have the Darlas with yellow lenses. Nothing says motorcycle more than two yellow light spaced about 18 inches apart with a headlight in the middle. I leave them on high. I also ride with my 10K lumen LED high beam on and turn it off only if I'm going to be blasting it into the eyes of oncoming traffic. I'm pretty careful and considerate about it. I rarely get flashed. 

 

I also upgraded my horn to a loud three-horn set. It sounds like a train. I use it liberally to give a short "toot" to drivers who aren't looking at me and can pull into my path. If they still don't look, I give them a longer blast. It never fails to get attention. Usually, I get a little wave of acknowledgment. No one has given me "the" finger. I wrote up how I selected and mounted the horns here

 

I've also been wearing a bright orange hi-viz mesh vest with reflective material the last few years. I don't know if it helps but I always notice other riders with hi-viz vests and it doesn't hurt. I reviewed hi-viz vests to wear over my three armored jackets here. I ultimately selected the Icon older military mesh vest. I had to buy it used on eBay since Icon only sells a more modern version which I didn't like as well. I cut off the outer pockets which reveals more hi-viz material since I do not have any reason or authority to ride on military bases. 

 

Hope that helps!

Migue

Link to comment
MichiganBob

This is a very interesting thread and I appreciate the comments. I'm trying to think what has kept me intact since I first started riding in 1968. I suppose that some of it is just good luck. But I have learned over the years. As I have gotten older, I want more light so I put on Denali 4's and run them most of the time except on two lanes at night which I switch off for approaching cars. Maybe it's in my head but I swear I have had much less vehicles pulling out in front of me or turning in my lane since I put these on. Also put on the Admore lights and motoreflective decals. Wearing yellow jacket and orange helmet. Sometimes a yellow vest. I just want to be seen.

 

As to technique, I assume the worst and hope for the best. I have the mindset that they are out to kill me and that I might have the right of way but this is about survival, not principle. I stay in the left side of the lane as I feel it gives me more options. I approach any car that might pull out or turn my way with a tentative attitude by slowing down until I believe they notice me.  This is more important than ever these days with so many distractions to driving. While slowing down, I check my rear to make sure that someone is not on my butt and will sometimes put my arm out to let them know to back off. I give a wave when safely passing the vehicle to garner good will for motorcyclists. Folks like validation.

 

Ride safe.

 

MichiganBob

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Bluenoser

Here in Canada on CBC radio there is a weekly science/nature program called Quirks and Quarks (every Saturday at 12:00).  A few months ago there was a segment on a study that was done on the topic of motorcycle recognition at intersections.  The conclusion of the study was that drivers do see the motorcycle but forget that they have seen it.  They do not forget if it is a car or truck.  The person that did the study could not really explain definitively the reason for forgetting motorcycles but not cars.  Size and shape was the probable rational for the brain reacting differently.

 

I installed a set of Darlas with the amber lens about a year ago.  I keep them at about 50% during the day.  I am totally convinced that recognition by drivers at intersections and oncoming traffic is significantly better.  There is more eye contact and they remain stopped at the intersection from when I am further out than before.  My theory is that the Darlas make me much more visible and also they are an unfamiliar sight to other drivers which should make it less forgettable.

Link to comment
Miguel!
58 minutes ago, Bluenoser said:

I am totally convinced that recognition by drivers at intersections and oncoming traffic is significantly better.  

I completely agree with this observation. I run my at 100% ALL the time. They are bright but not blinding. Try running them at 100% and see what you think. Cheers. Miguel

Link to comment
wbw6cos

That particular hue of amber is different than many lights out there and makes it a lot more noticeable.  I have seen the same color on a few on cars/trucks, and in the daylight that is the first thing that draws my eyes in that direction.  

Link to comment
Bill_Walker
On 7/24/2021 at 7:31 PM, Bluenoser said:

Here in Canada on CBC radio there is a weekly science/nature program called Quirks and Quarks (every Saturday at 12:00).  A few months ago there was a segment on a study that was done on the topic of motorcycle recognition at intersections.  The conclusion of the study was that drivers do see the motorcycle but forget that they have seen it.  They do not forget if it is a car or truck.  The person that did the study could not really explain definitively the reason for forgetting motorcycles but not cars.  Size and shape was the probable rational for the brain reacting differently.

 

I think it's a matter of seeing what you expect to see and not seeing what you don't expect to see.  See, for reference, the gorilla experiment: http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html

Link to comment
Bluenoser
On 7/26/2021 at 9:13 PM, Bill_Walker said:

I think it's a matter of seeing what you expect to see and not seeing what you don't expect to see.  See, for reference, the gorilla experiment: http://www.theinvisiblegorilla.com/gorilla_experiment.html

Could be true Bill.  I regret that I can't find a link to the CBC episode but I remember that the researcher verified that the people did see the bike but quickly forgot about it.  Sorry I can't provide more info than that.

 

I can give two examples of why flashing your headlight is not good.  Quite some time ago, I was pulling out to pass a transfer truck with my car.  I meant to put on my turn signal but mistakenly flashed my high beam instead.  The truck immediately cut me off and pulled out to pass the vehicle in front of him, thinking I was signalling him to go for it. 

In the second case, there was a long delay in both directions at an intersection, vehicles to my left and right had a stop sign, I did not but couldn't cross because of backup on the other side.  I turned the bike off while waiting for traffic to clear.  Traffic cleared, I had the right of way, turned the key on, started the bike and began to accelerate across.  The vehicle to my left quickly accelerated through the intersection in front of me.  When I had hit the start button, the headlight turned off and then back on once started.  The guy to my left saw that as a signal that I wanted him to proceed.

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...