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Thread: Pulsing headlights?

  1. #16
    angysdad
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    The hyper light brake lights are OK. They do work to keep people back.
    The modulating headlight has not caught on in Qu?®bec. I have only seen one on the road (GW). Hope they stay rare.

  2. #17
    Comfortably road numb Boingo's Avatar
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    In a multi vehicle accident involving a motorcycle verses a car, what statement is most likely said by the driver of the car?

    ÔÇ£I didnÔÇÖt see them?ÔÇØ

    This problem is not limited just to the US. I stole this from a UK web siteÔÇØ

    The acronym SMIDSY, short for "sorry mate, I didn't see you", is used by British and Australian motorcyclists and cyclists to describe collisions in which a car driver fails to perceive a two-wheel user (see motorcycle safety). It is estimated by the UK Department of Transport that SMIDSY incidents account for around 25% of all motorcycle accidents.

    http://www.motorcycleinfo.co.uk/inde...&pageId=252282

    I was kinda surprised to hear it was only 25%, but even at that, something to consider.

    There are other factors at play here. We have all been in the situation where we have made eye contact with a driver, only to have them pull out in front of you. They were looking in your direction, but failed to see you. Here is an interesting article on Motion Camouflage

    http://www.motorcycleinfo.co.uk/inde...&pageId=146841

    So even responsible drivers are dangerous, what about the distracted ones? You know, the guy/gal on the phone, yelling at the kids in the back seat, eating, reading the newspaper, doing their nails (no kidding, I have witnessed the last two first hand). That stuff gives me nightmares.

    What can be done to reduce the risk in a risky sport when faced with the above situations? SEE (search, evaluate, and execute) is recommended by the MSF. Defensive riding, circle of safety, exit routes, riding like you are invisible are also necessary. Most if all experienced riders would place visibility high on this list. Bright protective reflective riding gear, white, or bright colored helmet, safety vest, high beams are also helpful. And headlight modulators.

    I have been using the Kisan headlight modulator for 5 years now, covering about 75,000 miles (yeah, weak, but the wife pushed out two rug rats during that time). Crossed the country with it, used it all over North America (sans Mexico). Three times I have heard the ÔÇ£You know you headlight is flashingÔÇØ, ÔÇ£Yeah, it makes me more visible. Hope it didnÔÇÖt bother youÔÇØ, ÔÇ£Nah, but we did notice you from far awayÔÇØ.

    Quote Originally Posted by mistercindy View Post
    It pisses people off which the motorcycle community doesn't need and can't afford, disrupts traffic because people are surprised and think it might be the police, dangerously creates target fixation, is a passive safety action so is inherently not effective, makes for more light pollution on roads that are already filled with too many distractions, and no objective study has found them effective.
    Rant over!
    I humbly disagree. If we were to poll Joe/Jane Driver, I would be stunned to find headlight modulators on their list of motorcycle complaints. I have yet to meet anyone that my modulators have turned into a raving bundle of rage, or leave a swath of chaos and destruction in my wake. The University of Michigan did a study that determined:

    The results of the study indicate that daytime conspicuity can be significantly improved by:
    1. Causing the headlamp to modulate at a rate of about 3 hz.
    2. Riding with the headlamp on.
    3. Wearing high visibility (fluorescent) garments.


    http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstr...1.0001.001.pdf

    I use one to lower me a step on the ladder of risk. Personally, I think it makes me look like a dork, but know that my family and friends would be bummed out if I became roadkill.
    Scott Wynter
    Pleasant Hill, CA
    1971 R75/5 SWB, 2000 R1100R
    BMWMOA, Central Cal, IBA, MFS Ridercoach, ECV.

  3. #18
    dhgeyer
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    Boingo:

    I just read through the entire study you quoted last in your post above. Skimmed parts of it really, as it's over 100 pages long. I was looking for data supporting the conclusion that a pulsating headlight is an effective countermeasure, which the study does assert, twice.

    The only direct, test related data that I found in the study was the following:

    "A recent study by Ramsey & Brinkley (1977) examined the conspicuity of strobe and flashing lights . The researchers found that other motorists , when stopped and asked whether they saw a motorcycle they had just passed, noticed motorcycles equipped with a medium-to high - intensity flashing light more often than motorcycles with no or low-intensity lights."

    This experiment didn't test modulation independent of light intensity.

    Other studies cited in this study found pretty much universally that headlight intensity is a highly determining factor in visibility to other motorists.

    Without citing any raw data, there also was an assertion that any advantage obtained by headlight pulsing disappeared in the presence of other pulsing lights, like turn signals on other vehicles, for example.

    In pretty much every table and conclusion, headlight modulation as an effective countermeasure came in last, significantly after high visibility clothing and helmets, and headlight brightness or brightness in contrast to surroundings.

    So, based on my reading of this study at least, which admittedly was not an in depth hours long reading, I come to the conclusion that the evidence backing up the assertion that headlight modulation is beneficial is tenuous at best, and that all the other strategies tested (bright clothing, bright helmets, and bright lights) are far more effective.

    If anyone cares to read the entire study more carefully, perhaps they will find something I missed.

    I do agree that, from my own subjective observation, a modulated headlight is not disturbing to other motorists, and does no harm. I do wonder if it wears out the bulb faster, though.

    As a possibly informative anecdote, I had an "eye opening" experience a few years ago. I passed an oncoming Gold Wing equipped with what must have been a home made device. It was about 16 or 18 inches across and maybe 8 or so inches high, flat, and mounted on the front of the fairing above the headlight. It consisted of several rows of very bright L.E.D.s, and was programed so that the lights pulsated, I would almost have to say explosively, in an outward pattern from the center to the right and left edges. It was almost like POW POW POW. I saw that thing coming about a half mile away, long before I had any idea what it was. It had all the elements of perception cited in the above referenced study: very high brightness, pulsation, and movement. To this day I wish I had turned around and chased that guy down and found out where he got that thing or how he made it. I can't imagine anyone not seeing him!

  4. #19
    It is what it is. Bud's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boingo View Post
    In a multi vehicle accident involving a motorcycle verses a car, what statement is most likely said by the driver of the car?

    ÔÇ£I didnÔÇÖt see them?ÔÇØ
    I have a friend in CA who is a first responder. They have had people run into a fire truck which had its lights and sirens on.

    Food for thought about relying on others to see you.
    I used to post here, but now I don't.

  5. #20
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Wouldn't ride without a modulator.

    Only use it when mixing it up in heavy traffic - I can actually notice other motorists seeing me and giving me some extra room - nice to be noticed.

    Came thru some early morning fog in Kentucky last week - had a bike coming from the opposite direction using a modulating headlight - boy, did he/she stand out! - much more than my PIAA's did. Will add "heavy fog" to my small laundry list of when to use the device.

    Don't use it when not the Alpha male in a pack of bikes, or when bumper-to-bumper with cages.

    I find it a safety accessory that, employed prudently, improves my survivability on the road.

    Not everyone's 'cup of tea' - so what else is new?!
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
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  6. #21
    Comfortably road numb Boingo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhgeyer View Post
    So, based on my reading of this study at least, which admittedly was not an in depth hours long reading, I come to the conclusion that the evidence backing up the assertion that headlight modulation is beneficial is tenuous at best, and that all the other strategies tested (bright clothing, bright helmets, and bright lights) are far more effective.

    If anyone cares to read the entire study more carefully, perhaps they will find something I missed.
    Thanks Dave,

    Without a doubt, you put much more time in reading the study than I did. Looking back, my primary purpose citing this study was to counter mistercincy's assertion that "no objective study has found them effective". Very petty of me, but it was objective, a study, and it found them effective. I would not dare defend the data (without more information), and therefore can't vouch for the study's conclusions. However, in my objective and exhausting study, I have noticed a huge difference in the before and after. The violations of personal space with driveway pullouts, left turns, u-tuns, lane changes and lane splitting dropped significantly. Now I realize that the statistical significance with a sample size of one is low, but it is all I got.
    Scott Wynter
    Pleasant Hill, CA
    1971 R75/5 SWB, 2000 R1100R
    BMWMOA, Central Cal, IBA, MFS Ridercoach, ECV.

  7. #22
    dhgeyer
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boingo View Post
    Thanks Dave,

    Without a doubt, you put much more time in reading the study than I did.
    Thank you, Scott, for posting the link to the study. I have bookmarked it, and sometime when I have the time I'm going to really read it, or at least some very interesting looking parts of it. I goes into some fascinating and likely relevant detail on some of the psycho-physiological processes involved in perception, as they pertain to us being seen. A lot of theoretical stuff, and a lot of other studies referenced.

    I have toyed from time to time with installing a headlight modulator. I don't for a few reasons. I do worry about shortening headlight bulb life. And, my very bright headlight and HI-Viz jackets seem to work about as well as anything. And, as I said in a previous post, I, personally don't see a motorcycle with a pulsing headlight any sooner than one without. I am open to the possibility that this has a lot to do with me being very attuned to motorcycles, and may not be true of drivers in general.

    Part of it, also, I suppose, is laziness. I haven't installed an aftermarket, really really loud (probably air) horn either. That would be my next step if I were going to do something further of a mechanical nature to save myself from an idiot in a cage.

    So, I'm not saying that modulators have no value. I'm just saying that I don't personally see it enough to motivate me to get one.

    If anyone takes anything away from my contributions to this thread, I would hope it would be the value of always riding with the high beam on in daylight, whether modulated or not. No mechanical installations needed, no more difficult than riding with the low beam on, and proven effective in several studies.

    And, as has been said several times, none of this is a substitute for defensive (paranoid) riding.

  8. #23
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    I was riding home from work on a 35mph back road , straight no blind corners and pulled over for a local LEO, full marked Crown Vic with all lights and siren going. About 1/8 mile later a woman in a SUV turned left in front of the LEO forcing him to use very aggressive breaking. Hard to imagine she didn't see him but would have seen me.
    But....................... I still use my Motolights, run-n-lites, pulsing headlight and most important, riding like I'm invisible.

  9. #24
    Registered User LMIWA156120's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boingo View Post
    ... However, in my objective and exhausting study, I have noticed a huge difference in the before and after. The violations of personal space with driveway pullouts, left turns, u-tuns, lane changes and lane splitting dropped significantly. Now I realize that the statistical significance with a sample size of one is low, but it is all I got.
    I have noticed the same thing in my own before / after comparison. I always ran the high light during the day before. Now I use the modulator when traffic warrants it. As others have stated, I don't use it in groups of motorcycles, on the interstate, or in stop and go traffic. In those cases it's just annoying and provides no benefit.

    I always ride as though I'm invisible. I just seem to be a little less invisible with the modulator.
    Loch Miwa
    Crestwood, IL
    2004 R1150RT

  10. #25
    Registered User 802's Avatar
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    I have a headlight modulator installed, wear Hi-Viz, etc. But mostly, I ride like I'm invisible. I use the modulator when I have the sun at my back, etc., and it has helped. Most important, I ride like no one can see me. That and situational awareness is key to survival.
    Rubber down,
    Rich
    RichW
    2007 R12RT
    DS/DS, OEF, OIF

  11. #26
    Comfortably road numb Boingo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dhgeyer View Post
    I do worry about shortening headlight bulb life.
    I’ve easily got over a 100 hours on my extra bright high beam (third eye of God) bulb.

    Now, I have to be honest. I am not trying to change any ones mind about headlight modulators. DO NOT INSTALL ONE, IT IS A BAD IDEA. Why? Because I want to be the only one on the road with one. If you all install one, how am I going to be unique and stand out from the rest of the crowd? You have been warned. If I catch you with one, I am gonna pee on your tire.
    Last edited by Boingo; 10-16-2010 at 04:39 AM.
    Scott Wynter
    Pleasant Hill, CA
    1971 R75/5 SWB, 2000 R1100R
    BMWMOA, Central Cal, IBA, MFS Ridercoach, ECV.

  12. #27
    Seattle-area Rounder OfficerImpersonator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mistercindy View Post
    Do a search and you'll find a couple of long and contentious threads on this issue. The two camps are:
    1. It pisses people off which the motorcycle community doesn't need and can't afford, disrupts traffic because people are surprised and think it might be the police, dangerously creates target fixation, is a passive safety action so is inherently not effective, makes for more light pollution on roads that are already filled with too many distractions, and no objective study has found them effective.
    2. I don't care about any of the above because I believe I'm safer.

    Put me camp one. You are safest when you rely on active safety measures (i.e.., the way you ride, pay attention, and act accordingly). Passive measures, where you rely on others seeing you for your safety, can be fine, although their effectiveness has never been proven. Nobody argues that it's bad to wear Hi-Viz, white helmets, reflective stickers, etc... But you cross a line when you annoy people. And the response that "all it takes is one person to notice" is another way of saying that I have an excuse for being a poor rider and bad neighbor. I don't care if you're wearing Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, you are safest when you ride smart.

    Rant over!
    Put me in camp #2. If you see me, you won't hit me. I used to not have one. People didn't see me. After I got one, people saw me. That's the only factor that matters in my opinion. It's not the visual equivalent of "loud pipes save lives", because loud pipes don't save lives - but headlight modulators do. If loud pipes pointed forwards instead of backwards, and the Doppler Effect didn't exist, then loud pipes might save lives - but those limitations don't also apply to a headlight modulator.

    Sure - I've had drivers pull over for me, thinking I was a cop (I am on a white RTP, after all). Heck, I've even accidentally pulled over transit buses who thought I was a cop. So what? That means they saw me. Mistakes and assumptions made after they saw me are their own problems. Maybe they'll make an effort to learn or realize that unless the flashing lights are some combination of blue and white or red and white, there is no reason to pull over.

    In the mean-time, I've been spotted and avoided by other motorists thanks to my modulating headlight.

    My only complaint about the modulating headlights is their use around dawn and dusk. They will come on only intermittently as the ambient light sensor tries to figure out if it's bright enough to activate the flash function, so they are essentially useless for about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.
    Seattle, WA
    2012 R1200GSA
    2002 R1150RT-P
    1992 K75S sold

  13. #28
    Cam Killer marchyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OfficerImpersonator View Post
    Put me in camp #2. If you see me, you won't hit me.
    How does that belief square with target fixation?

  14. #29
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marchyman View Post
    How does that belief square with target fixation?
    I teach the pros and cons of 'target fixation' in MSF courses.

    I also have been using a modulating high beam for the last five (5) years without any 'target fixation' by a motorist in response to my very obvious approach.

    Any device / accessory is not relied on for safety, but simply added to my toolbox of options and behavior to be safe - SEE (Search, Evaluate, Execute) - a constant process!
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
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  15. #30
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boingo View Post
    I’ve easily got over a 100 hours on my extra bright high beam (third eye of God) bulb.

    Now, I have to be honest. I am not trying to change any ones mind about headlight modulators. DO NOT INSTALL ONE, IT IS A BAD IDEA. Why? Because I want to be the only one on the road with one. If you all install one, how am I going to be unique and stand out from the rest of the crowd. You have been warned. If I catch you with one, I am gonna pee on your tire.
    Oh crap! - OK ........... ignore all previous posts - I do not use a headlight modulator.

    Should I pass thru Pleasant Hill, CA someday - please do not 'unrinate on my uniroyals!'
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
    Nationally Certified Law Enforcement Motor Officer (Ret.) / IBA Member #34281
    MSF RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer)
    Motorcycle/Driving Instructor - ROAD AMERICA Race Track

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