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Old 02-06-2012, 08:32 AM   #1
windmill OP
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Non typical lighting a hazzard

I have always been against use of high output high beams as a "safety" (crutch) device, blinding others can cause many more problems than it supposedly solves. On the other hand I always felt that additional lighting and tail light modulators are a good idea, other than being a little excessive I dident see any harm in headlight modulators.

After reading this news story, I am rethinking headlight modulators.

"an elderly man in a black car was westbound on FM 1007, and he slowed down when he saw the large pack of motorcycles. The man's wife said the lead motorcycle had flashing lights, which her husband thought may have been police lights."
Being seen by others is good, confusing them is not. "safety" devices should not cause a hazard.
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Old 02-06-2012, 08:47 AM   #2
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That's a little bit of a skewed example. If Mr. Geriatric had seen an ACTUAL police motor coming down the street and slammed on his brakes, subsequently being hit by the inattentive driver following at excessive speed, and then being punted into the path of the ambulance that was being escorted... would that be the cops fault?

Bad drivers are everywhere, thinking that it's a good idea to ride in formation while following the directions of a "Road Captain", is a pretty dumb approach to avoiding them... hell, the "Road Captain" might be one of them!
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:10 AM   #3
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Headlight modulators are pretty rare here, but every-time I've ever seen one I was convinced it was emergency services of some kind, until it got close. Once it did get close, I was just plain annoyed at being distracted.

If I get annoyed at someone on a bike, I can imagine others going into full on road rage.

Also, when I'm paying more attention to your headlight than anything else, perhaps checking if I need to make way to let you past through the traffic, then it's nice and safe for you but dangerous for me.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:11 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lemieuxmc View Post
If Mr. Geriatric had seen an ACTUAL police motor coming down the street and slammed on his brakes, subsequently being hit by the inattentive driver following at excessive speed, and then being punted into the path of the ambulance that was being escorted... would that be the cops fault?
As you point out, emergency vehicles do confuse some drivers and "cause" accidents, were not talking fault here, but if the incident would have even happened if the lead bike wasn't using flashing lights for "safety".

The question,
What is the true value of a "safety" device that will confuse some drivers who other wise would not have been a problem.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:20 AM   #5
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I agree, non-standard lighting is a safety issue. Anything that takes even a moment to figure out what it is telling you takes away from critical reaction time. Headlight modulators are obnoxious, and the blinky-blinky-blink brake ligh modulators are confusing. That being said, on my bike, I do have two bright amber LED conspicuity lights ("daytime running lights") in the front arranged in a triangle-pattern with the daytime-on headlight, as well as additional LED brake lights with a modulator that gives 5-6 quick flashes for the first couple of seconds and then a steady burn. FWIW.

I suspect one thing that helped to confuse the elderly gentleman was the pack of 60 motorcycles a la parade mode.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:35 AM   #6
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Q: Are the flashing lights red and/or blue?
A1: Yes. It's an emergency vehicle, react appropriately.
A2: No. It's not an emergency vehicle.

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Old 02-06-2012, 11:23 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoodward View Post
Q: Are the flashing lights red and/or blue?
A1: Yes. It's an emergency vehicle, react appropriately.
A2: No. It's not an emergency vehicle.

The wig-wags on a patrol car or ambulance can sometimes be seen before the red and/or blues. I think this is where the confusion stems from.
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:31 AM   #8
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Headlight modulators I don't like. Brake light modulators have never bothered me, especially the kind that don't keep flashing the whole time the brake is applied. I have one on one of my bikes that flashes very rapidly on first application then over 2 seconds the flashing slows to a steady on. I think it's very attention grabbing without being obnoxious.
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:43 AM   #9
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Eh?

I'm not sure if it's worse to be killed by an automobile driver who doesn't see me or one who's pissed at my headlights...
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:06 PM   #10
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I'm not sure if it's worse to be killed by an automobile driver who doesn't see me or one who's pissed at my headlights...
You missed the point.

A few riders seem to have an unusual amount of trouble with motorists not seeing them.
It is not unusual for emergency vehicles lights to confuse some motorists and cause accidents.

How prudent is it to try to compensate for one issue by creating another?
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:04 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by windmill View Post

A few riders seem to have an unusual amount of trouble with motorists not seeing them.
I would suggest that if rider continually suffers from "not being seen," it has more to do with the rider's habits, responses to other traffic and general roadcraft skill than it does with an actual visibility problem.
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:19 PM   #12
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I'm just throwing this on here, take it for what it's worth:

I was in law enforcement for 16 years. I can't tell you how many times I almost got into an accident while running priority because of what people did in reaction to my lights. I had people slam on their brakes almost causing me to rear end them, I had people swerve over several lanes of traffic (crossing my path mind you) to get onto the shoulder to avoid me, and in too many cases, I had people simply either not see me behind them (never figured that one out) or they were so scared to death of me or the situation, they just didn't know how to react (this was very prevalent with older drivers and foreigners). And this is a LARGE vehicle I'm driving with flashing dual headlights, the blue and reds, etc.

In my humble experience, people are just f-ing dumb behind the wheel of vehicles, plain and simple. I'm not perfect and I've done stupid stuff too, so don't get me wrong. Do the best you can to stay safe and visible, that's all you can do. I've also generally thought flashing headlights were annoying, but I'm sure there is a dedicated crowd of people out there that swear by them as well. I also don't use my hi-beam when I used to ride either - nothing like pissing off the peopel coming at you in the name of your safety, etc. Be safe, be courteous, hope for the best ;)
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Old 02-06-2012, 03:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windmill View Post
I have always been against use of high output high beams as a "safety" (crutch) device, blinding others can cause many more problems than it supposedly solves.....snipped....
Being seen by others is good, confusing them is not. "safety" devices should not cause a hazard.

I disagree. I run 80/100 or 90/130 bulbs. A higher output doesn't change the beam pattern (beam pattern is dictated by the lens shape), rather it puts more light in the same area.

If my 100w light blinds/distracts drivers/riders then so would the stock 55w bulb.

With rare exception, I run my high beams on during daylight hours. I've adjusted my headlights so that I rarely, extremely rarely get "flashed" about my lights.

I'd rather be seen than dead.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:26 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tattoogunman View Post
I'm just throwing this on here, take it for what it's worth:

I was in law enforcement for 16 years. I can't tell you how many times I almost got into an accident while running priority because of what people did in reaction to my lights. I had people slam on their brakes almost causing me to rear end them, I had people swerve over several lanes of traffic (crossing my path mind you) to get onto the shoulder to avoid me, and in too many cases, I had people simply either not see me behind them (never figured that one out) or they were so scared to death of me or the situation, they just didn't know how to react (this was very prevalent with older drivers and foreigners). And this is a LARGE vehicle I'm driving with flashing dual headlights, the blue and reds, etc.

In my humble experience, people are just f-ing dumb behind the wheel of vehicles, plain and simple. I'm not perfect and I've done stupid stuff too, so don't get me wrong. Do the best you can to stay safe and visible, that's all you can do. I've also generally thought flashing headlights were annoying, but I'm sure there is a dedicated crowd of people out there that swear by them as well. I also don't use my hi-beam when I used to ride either - nothing like pissing off the peopel coming at you in the name of your safety, etc. Be safe, be courteous, hope for the best ;)
You might try a modulator for a little while. My observation is that I'm noticed a LOT more. I'll do anything that makes me more conspicuous. It even made a sheriff's deputy do a double take once. There are a lot of things a rider can do to minimize his exposure on the road, but there's not much that can be done about the SMIDSY left turner except to attract his attention. I don't really care if someone doesn't like it because the fact that they're annoyed means that they saw me.
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Old 02-06-2012, 04:49 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by dolomoto View Post
I disagree. I run 80/100 or 90/130 bulbs. A higher output doesn't change the beam pattern (beam pattern is dictated by the lens shape), rather it puts more light in the same area.

If my 100w light blinds/distracts drivers/riders then so would the stock 55w bulb.

With rare exception, I run my high beams on during daylight hours. I've adjusted my headlights so that I rarely, extremely rarely get "flashed" about my lights.

I'd rather be seen than dead.
Like you, I run brighter than stock lights adjusted so they don't blind others. Additional lighting is a good thing if done intelligently.
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