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Bright lights and survival

David Epps's picture

A few days ago, I was riding my motorcycle when a lady in an approaching car flashed her lights at me.

I assume she did this for one of three reasons: (1) She was flirting (Okay, not very likely).

(2) She was warning me about a speed trap (more probable than #1 but it turned out not to be the reason).

Or (3) my lights were on bright and she was irritated at me for not dimming the bike’s lights.

If it was the last reason, she was correct. Yes, I had my lights on bright and, no, I did not dim them. Nor will I.

There are two reasons for keeping the lights on a motorcycle on bright:

(1) It’s what we were taught at the motorcycle training class I took almost two years ago.

(2) In nearly every instance of motorcycle accidents known to me, the driver of the car says, “I didn’t see him!”

Each year there are way too many motorcycle fatalities. In 2010, there were 4,502 motorcycle deaths. That was up from the 4,469 killed in 2009.

According to, “Motorcycle accidents, though not necessarily more frequent than other types of accidents, are more likely to result in serious injury or death. According to the federal government, per mile traveled in 2006, there were 35 times more deaths from motorcycle accidents than from car accidents.

“Crashes involving motorcycles and other vehicles account for 56 percent of motorcycle accident deaths. In the vast majority of these accidents, the car strikes the motorcycle from the front 78 percent of the time. (The car strikes the motorcycle from the rear only 5 percent of the time.)

“Head-on collisions between a car and motorcycle are often fatal to the motorcyclist.

“The single most dangerous situation for motorcyclists occurs when cars are making left-hand turns. These collisions account for 42 percent of all accidents involving a motorcycle and car.”

In many of these cases, even though the bike had the right of way, was in his own lane, and was coming right at the car, the driver said, “I didn’t see him.”
There are certain activities that are difficult to do when riding a bike. It is difficult, for example, to put on make-up, eat lunch, talk on a cell phone, text, read a newspaper or magazine, or make out with a girlfriend — all of which I have seen drivers of cars do while propelling a lethal machine down the public highways.

I have personally avoided being hit several times by such drivers only because I do not trust anyone out there. I assume they are trying to kill me — well, maybe not deliberately but, certainly, by their stupidity or lack of concentration.

I actually saw one driver talking on the phone and, at the same time, trying to shave with an electric razor while driving. I have all confidence if someone, such as this man, did hit me he would say, “I didn’t see him!”

One company has a line of fluorescent yellow and orange t-shirts that say, “Can you see me now?” in bold black letters. One set of shirts says, “Can you see me now stupid?” and yet another line of T-Shirts reads, “Can you see me now $#%&@?” I edited that last one.

Some bikers wear safety vests that are bright orange or they wear other reflective materials. Most of us keep our lights on bright. It’s not to irritate you — it’s to make sure you see us before you kill us and then say, “I didn’t see him!”

So, if a biker comes toward you with his or her brights on, and doesn’t dim them, it’s not because he wants to ruin your day. It’s because he wants to simply enjoy his ride and arrive at his destination alive.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10 a.m. ( He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese ( He may be contacted at]


Bright lights improve your vision in the dark. They do not make you significantly more visible to others. What they do is blind the oncoming driver who is therefore MORE LIKELY to be unable to stay in their lane and is therefore more likely to turn you into a hood ornament.

Aside from the bad reasoning, your total lack of concern for anyone else is obvious. I have flashed my lights at oncoming drivers for 50 years, not because I was "irritated" as you think, but because I wanted to be able to see.

Given your attitude, and the fact you are on a motorcycle, I am a bit surprised you are still alive. I am always thinking about the other driver and what they see or don't see, especially when I am on two wheels. That attitude has saved my life many times.

PTC Observer's picture

The best way not to get killed on a motorcycle is not to ride one.

Hope this helps you out with you safety tips.

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