In the last few years there has been a lot of fuss about wearing Hi Vis gear for motorbikes; France even protested against it, refusing to go along with government laws. Studies have been made about the safety of reflective materials while others deny their importance. Today, I don’t think we’re any smarter in figuring out what’s best for a motorcycle rider’s safety, except riding smart and doing whatever it takes.
The fact is that Hi Vis materials will not save you if the car driver is texting and changing radio stations while driving – he’s not looking at the road and no reflective material can change that.
On the other hand, if there is at least a slight chance that you could prevent some accidents from happening, would you sacrifice your cool black jacket, pants and helmet for a better chance of finishing a ride safely?
I often ride with my wife, and feel responsible for both of us when we’re on the road. Defensive driving is my routine by now, but occasionally I do get a SMIDSY (Sorry mate, I didn′t see you), but mostly within the city limits. When on longer multi-day trips, we usually put on our Hi Vis vests over our jackets. It doesn’t hurt our comfort, and we don’t mind looking like road construction workers. If it adds a 10% chance of being safer on the road and being seen by that one car driver—count me in. The point is to have a memorable experience that does not include any hospitals along the way.
In the rain and at night, most car drivers just don’t see well through wet or dark side windows, and a small vertical object approaching at speed is hard to spot. Driving defensively and acting unseen, won’t help with that situation, and any reflective gear you may have on yourself or your bike can only help. There are a number of situations that can happen, but using your head, riding smart and focusing on the road will definitely give you improved chances of getting to your destination, everything else is welcome if it helps.
During a bright, sunny day, perhaps there Is no immediate need for a Hi Vis vest over your jacket, or a full set Hi Vis clothing. But during rain or at night, riders should consider wearing them to lower the chance of being swept down by that one driver who did not see them. They will never guarantee against a crash and riding defensively is always a safer bet overall, but considering the fact that, besides the uncool look there are basically no bad points to wearing reflective gear, you should consider it when buying your motorcycle gear. You only live once, so stay safe and get to ride another day.
What are your thoughts and experiences on this subject? Do you wear Hi Visibility gear? Please share in the comments below.