According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), about 72 per 100,000 registered motorcycles are involved in a fatal accident every year.
Compared to the average for passenger vehicles (13 per 100,000), motorcycles are at an extremely increased risk to be in some sort of accident.
In over 75% of those accidents, the motorcycle was not the only vehicle involved in the crash. Two-thirds of those cited an inability to see the motorcyclist as the root cause.
In recent years, in part thanks to Larry Crowne and his gang, scooters have grown in popularity. Especially among millennials and college students. With more traffic on the road and the relatively small size of the scooters themselves, accidents are more frequent.
There are a few things you should do in order to prevent a passenger car from careening into you. Unless you want your head to explode in a similar fashion to Oberyn Martell.
Reflective Motorcycle Backpack
With little cargo room, many motorcyclists and scooter riders use good quality motorcycle backpacks to haul their daily necessities. This makes it a great place, and a necessary place, for reflective devices to ensure any rider is seen. Other than the need for motorcycle backpack to be waterproof, it also needs to be reflective.
The number one cause of motorcycle accidents being low visibility. Thus, it’s important for riders to ensure they have some sort of reflective feature on their bike. This means you should have a reflection on the front, back, and sides.
Many of today’s backpacks built specifically for motorcyclists contain a large reflective panel on the outward-facing panel of the backpack as well as both sides.
The problem with reflective motorcycle backpack, as with most motorcycle equipment, is it’s a relatively high expense. Many backpacks for motorcycles, even those without reflective or Hi-Viz features, are typically extremely expensive as compared to normal, run of the mill backpacks.
This often leads to motorcyclists purchasing a nonreflective motorcycle backpack.
A Cheaper Alternative
Though not specifically for motorcyclists, and therefore not equipped with reflective devices, there are ways to have a reflective backpack at a fraction of the cost.
Many retailers of motorcycle equipment and hardware stores across the US sell the reflective tape. With said tape, you can convert your ordinary backpack into a reflective motorcycle or scooter backpack.
When creating your own motorcycle backpack it’s important to remember to ensure a large reflective surface on the back. This is often the first area other motorists will view when driving. So it’s important to make it the most noticeable on the road.
You will also want to put strips of the tape along the sides of the backpack. This will ensure drivers can see you when they are parallel to you. Reflective tape on all sides of you will help increase your visibility any time you are on your bike.
Safety, Safety, Safety
It may seem like a no-brainer to make sure you’re seen at all times and from all angles on the road but there is an extremely higher risk of being in an accident when little or no reflective features are present on a motorcycle rider.
It’s important to remember the relative size of motorcycles as they’re compared to other passenger vehicles on the road.
Small and lacking any sort of external protection, motorcycles are inherently vulnerable and hard to see. Adding any sort of feature that increases your chance of being seen should always be considered before riding.
You should also remember that the reflective jacket you’re wearing won’t do any good if it’s covered completely by a backpack. There should always be some sort of reflection on the outermost garment or accessory you’re wearing.
While only a small part of the safety equation, ensuring other drivers notice you and take you into account can make a huge difference. The more you’re noticed on the roads the more likely other drivers are to drive more cautiously around you.
This will help prevent multi-vehicle accidents and give you a better chance of making it home safely.
360 Degree Coverage
I know it’s been said previously but it’s worth emphasizing the importance of having a reflection on all sides of you and your bike while riding.
Many of the accidents reported were caused by passenger vehicles changing lanes, unaware of the motorcycle in their vicinity. In most of those instances, reflective tape or hi-viz clothing on the side of the rider may have helped prevent the accident in the first place.
Some companies have even started putting reflective panels in the shoulder straps of their backpacks for instances of narrow roads. Seemingly unimportant, those reflectors may save your life one day. Point being, make sure you have a reflective surface on all sides of you and your bike.
So whether you’re buying a motorcycle backpack or making your own, remember that reflection on the side of the pack is just as important as a reflection on the back.
Hi-Viz or Reflective?
There’s a debate currently taking place among motorcycle enthusiasts about whether hi-viz material (i.e. Neon yellow) is better than reflective strips. Many have made the argument that the hi-viz clothing helps during the day and at night. This makes it the best for motorcyclists to use.
There are those, including one professor of statistics at the University of Melbourne, who claim the hi-viz clothing does little if anything to make riders more noticeable. Said professor cited many studies that showed hi-viz wearers are just as likely to be in an accident as those without any sort of reflective or hi-viz clothing.
The debate has led many motorcycle apparel companies to create hybrid materials made of both hi-viz materials and containing reflective materials. These hybrids provide the rider with the best of both worlds. Early studies show a positive impact on accident statistics.
So no matter what type of bike you ride, remember the importance of being seen by other drivers. Make your presence known to others around you and help prevent accidents.