Better Riding: Put your lights on
The British even have a name for it. SMIDSY. Sorry mate, I didn't see you. It's a sobriquet endowed on the most common kind of car-motorcycle crash. Where the driver - blinded by his cellphone, music system, passengers, A-pillar, whatever - hits a bike. In many, many accident studies, the motorcycle and rider escaping the notice of the car driver has been identified as the causative agent that led to the incident. In fact, SMIDSY accidents are one of the reasons why most countries require two-wheelers to keep their headlights on all the time. So here is the simplest safety tip in the history of Better Riding.
It is really effective. As a friend and confirmed car guy told me recently, a bright headlight of a motorcycle in the rear view mirror recently prompted him forcefully to be aware of a motorcycle that was right behind his car at the time. It doesn't matter how my friend reacted to this information - by giving way or just carrying on regardless. As long as he knew that there was a bike behind him, the motorcyclist was in a safer place.
Luckily you can access this safety measure very easily. Just turn your lights on. I did and instantly got a reprimand from a traffic policeman a few years ago. He told me that lights were meant for the night and if I persisted in riding with th on, eventually I'd be spot-fined. "You're not blind, right?" Haha. Very funny.
But after that, I've taken to ensuring that my pilot lamps are always on. An illuminated spot, even on a bright day catches your attention and I've come to find that pedestrians will usually see that wee light and allow you to pass before they plunge headlong into traffic. Or car people about to make a badly timed lane change will swerve back into the lane catching the light in their mirrors.
If you've got a bike with pilot lamps, do yourself a favour and turn them on for every single ride. If you have a bike without pilot lamps, get a small lamp added or remember to get one with them the next time. It's worth it. Manufacturers please note, I think until the always-on headlamp becomes a norm even in India, we would all be safer if we could turn our pilot lamps on. Kindly help.
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