It’s your life – you need to be seen by others! by Nick Nicholson


Looking at recent TV news, I saw how three people died in a motorcycle/SUV crash. A young male driver and his female passenger on the motorcycle and the male driver of an SUV. Very tragic. Why?

Seeing the TV footage, it instantly told me that it was a “T-bone” collision. One vehicle crashes into the side of another. In this case, it was obvious to me that the motorcycle went into the driver’s door of a vehicle. It was also obvious by the amount of crush, that high speed on the part of the motorcycle was involved.

I don’t know what type of motorcycle was used but, I can almost Nick-2015guess it was one known as a “crotch rocket’ or what the medical profession refer to as a “donor cycle”. Why do they give it that name? Because nearly every person killed on one is young, healthy and have useable body parts for the medical organ donor programs. These are the people who seem attracted to this type of motorcycle. They seek excess speed and thrill. Their brains have not yet matured to the point of having a balanced fear. The old (fear-experienced) folks (not that they don’t die on motorcycles) tend to drive “cruisers” and take fewer chances.

So, let’s look at this type of collision and what may have caused it. I have no evidence, no reports, nor have I reconstructed the collision, so, this is total theory. First, this was preventable. Both drivers could have avoided it.

The SUV driver had a destination in mind for this trip. It included making a left turn at a city intersection according to the news commentator.

If the SUV driver looked before entering the intersecting pathway, how far do you suppose he looked. As human beings tend to drive by old habits rather than safety conscious thinking, the SUV driver would likely look as far one would normally (from experience) expect to see a vehicle coming that might intersect with his. Within a speed limited city, that would reasonably be around 500 feet. (150m). When no movement is detected during this two-second view, the driver automatically proceeds into the cross path. I can assume, in the best case scenario, that this is what happened. (Your defense? – look (study) as far as you can.)

On the motorcycle, the passenger normally has no control over the bike other than to scream her fear into the driver’s ear. Beyond that, hang on as tight as she could in hopes that somehow they get through every situation without touching anything. (Your defense? – if you don’t trust the driver to be sensible, stay home.)

This motorcycle driver had a serious judgment problem. For whatever reason, this driver chose to speed beyond the limits the engineer designed into that road for safety. When speeding beyond what people reasonably come to anticipate, your life’s expectancy drops dramatically. This fellow included his girlfriend and the other driver with him, taking their lives as well.

In no way am I recommending speeding but, in all scenarios with any kind of motorcycle, your visibility to others becomes paramount. Having lived in Southern Ontario for years I have made a point every Friday the 13th to watch motorcycles coming toward me on long stretches of highway. Thousands of motorcycles head to Port Dover on that date for a celebration that has become a tradition.

From the furthest distance away, the motorcycles that stand out first in any group, are those that when they get up close enough to see, have three headlights. Usually, they’re in a row across in-front-of the handlebars. From that discovery, I have always urged motorcyclists to install (at least) three headlights on their rides.

Human beings react to light and movement. As a motorcycle comes toward you, there is no sideways movement to draw your attention but a wide grouping of bright lights gives you a much better chance of seeing the bike. You notice it because it’s bright, wide and different.

There is a solution that is better. I have seen it on American bikes but not so much in Canada. Those are fluctuating or modulating headlights. The lights themselves, move up and down in a regular pattern which draws the eye because it is both light and movement at the same time. (like emergency vehicle headlights) This, to me, is the best safety precaution one could take to be seen on a motorcycle. These should be mandatory in my opinion. I have attached a link to a video of the “plug & play” modulating motorcycle light harness.

Fluctuating motorcycle lights video:

Learn more at:

The beauty of life is in your hands ……..

About the Author

Nick Nicholson, is a retired safety practitioner who spent many years researching the human behaviour factors of driver and pedestrian actions. Specifically, he spent 25 of those years devoted to highway crash investigations, regulatory compliance, the design, implementation and presentation of safety programs. Nick enjoyed many hours presenting professional driver enhancement training to adult participants.

As a long time Fleet Safety Council Member (1988) and the Founding Chair (1992-1995) of Council’s Hamilton-Niagara Chapter, he presents his opinions in hopes of improving the safety knowledge of readers. Nick is a firm believer in human advancement through positive attitudes, solution thinking and the understanding that the beauty of life is always in your hands.

Old Uncle Nicky’s Opinions are his own and in no way reflect the opinions of Fleet Safety Council

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