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Thread: Bright Lights Lose Rights?

  1. #1
    look out!!! Visian's Avatar
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    Bright Lights Lose Rights?

    OK, I know we all frown on loud pipes, but I have to tell ya, these days some riders are going way over the top with auxiliary lighting.

    I did a quick web search to see if I could find whether there are any laws specifying how bright these types of lights can be, and it's a huge mish-mash of regulations that vary across states.

    Some people rationalize this as conspicuity. To me, this is really discourteous to other motorists... and could actually be unsafe because the lights are blinding others.

    Do the assembled experts here have any additional knowledge?

    Ian
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    Themason 42906's Avatar
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    I would say how much lighting you use, or do not use, depends on traffic and how well lit the road is. At night on a desert road in the Great Basin where traffic is nearly non-existent, but wildlife is abundant, an array of aircraft landing lights might be sufficient, but you wouldn't dare run that kind of lighting on an LA freeway.
    There is no hard and fast rule that can replace judgement.

    I will admit there have been occasions in LA traffic that I wanted a light so bright and intense, that were I to shine it in the rear window of the microcephalic cretin who just cut me off that the interior of his or her car would literally glow and the hair on their head start to smolder. You know, one of those times when even a 100 watt high beam doesn't make a strong enough statement. Something like the Night Sun light carried on many big city police helicopters would do.
    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

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    Registered User f14rio's Avatar
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    too many critters in my neck of the woods

    (eastern long island's north fork) to do much riding at night. you either hit them or they hit you.



    got one of them deer whistles but i guess i put it on backwards. attracted them like ducks on a junebug.
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    the most common regulation that i have seen is one that limits the number of lights that a motorcycle can have. typical is no more than 3 "headlights".
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

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    Registered User dadayama's Avatar
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    I know some people don't care that there lights are bright... when i purchased some extra lights i found some that can be turned down to almost off. If have them full blast at night the cars start flashing their lights at me.
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    Rpbump USN RET CPO Rpbump's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by bikerfish1100 View Post
    the most common regulation that i have seen is one that limits the number of lights that a motorcycle can have. typical is no more than 3 "headlights".
    The CLC has 4 headlights. When I hit the bright beams to get someones attention I know that I'm noticed. The Moto lights on my my front brake assemblies are set to illuminate objects in the road just in front of me and to some extent to each side. I will most likely use Sylvania Silver Star lamps when high or low beams need replacement.
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    If you want to check the legality of your lights, start with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Specification (FMVSS) 108, Lamps, Reflective Devices and Associated Equipment. It includes requirements for maximum and minimum intensity of high and low beams, and also defines the minimum spacing between auxiliary lights and such things as turn signals.

    State requirements vary, but 49 USC 30103 requires that state regulations must be identical to the federal standard (federal preemption). For example, FMVSS 108 authorizes headlight modulators on motorcycles. I know several motorcyclists with modulators who carry a copy of the federal standard to show to the cops if they are stopped for having the modulators on.
    Karl
    2007 R1200ST

  8. #8
    Registered User RoadRdr's Avatar
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    Most state regulations are limited to specifying the number of auxiliary lights. Some will also reference the SAE standards for either the light themselves or the mounting and wiring. One typical example, the auxiliary lights must be mounted between below the headlights and not to exceed two additional fog or driving lights. FMVSS 108 is intended for new vehicle construction standards and direct replacements for mandated OEM lighting. For example, a lot of the bluish white headlight bulbs that became popular when HID began to show up on new, high end cars were not DOT approved and didn't meet the 108 standard.

    I just installed my Motolights with the LED conversion on my GSA that already has the weak-ish OEM driving lights. With all of the lights illuminated and headlamp on high beam there's a good possibility my lights would annoy oncoming traffic.

    It comes down to courtesy, like the loud pipes analogy. A pickup towing a large camper passed me the other night with his driving lights on, the trailer caused the front of the pickup to be pointing toward the sky along with the driving light beams. It was on a street-lighted suburban road that didn't really generate any "need" for additional forward illumination.

    I like extra lights mounted in case I need them. They are on or off with a flick of my thumb.

    I also am a firm believer in the triangle of light to help me and my motorcycle be noticed in traffic.
    Tom Wright - South Jersey
    2012 BMW R1200 GSA, and a 2nd or 3rd something rideable & 42 assorted training motorcycles.
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    I know this conversation should lean to bikes but I see many way too bright cars & trucks these days & a few bikes too, what with the cheap HID stuff available. Many are poorly aimed and on PU 's they are often on a jacked up truck with everything turned on and just flat out blind you. When a truck is jacked it makes the lights blind bikes & cars down lower. Seems to be a "macho thing" these days to light up the world. There is a height reg on lights and you rarely see an 18 wheeler that violates that but often with PU's.
    I see no regulation here of the light issue,fact is it's really common in KY to be operating with faulty this & that as zero inspection laws & lots of junkers on the roads.Only big trucks seem to get much scrutiny.
    When I travel to LA LA LAND (everywhere else) I am impacted by the shear number of high dollar vehicles and that are all there & not smoking out the pipe ,all glass intact,bumper covers still on and lights/signals actually work.

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    Registered User MOTOR31's Avatar
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    What "rights" are at risk?
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    Registered User lmo1131's Avatar
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    ... I see many way too bright cars & trucks these days & a few bikes too, what with the cheap HID stuff available. Many are poorly aimed and on PU 's they are often on a jacked up truck with everything turned on and just flat out blind you.
    Rant: ON

    I agree. I hold a Class A commercial license and have endorsements for; air brakes, tankers, hazardous materials, double and triple trailers, and passengers. So what... It means that I have studied and passed the examinations and more importantly, understand how to use vehicles thus equipped.

    I have long maintained that given the automotive industry's penchant for decorating the "face" of a vehicle with miscellaneous lights, that passenger car operators should be required to hold a "lighting" endorsement so that they are fully aware of how their behavior affects other drivers. My wife loves to drive her little CLK with the front lit up like a Christmas tree... drives me nuts.

    Back in the sixties, it was simple. The Driver Manual said that headlights should be dimmed at 300 feet when approaching another vehicle from the rear, and at a half mile when head-on; regardless of whether you were on the freeway or a two-lane highway. And there weren't any H4 and HID stuff available to complicate the matter. And of course there weren't as many cars on the road either.

    Rant: OFF
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  12. #12
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    I can't say that I run into a lot of annoying use of lights but it is becoming increasing common to find badly designed (from a glare standpoint) lights being heavily promoted. The inherent glare of LEDs and the high output of HIDs create issues that don't exist with traditional tungsten filament lighting

    As an example I offer the current mulitple LED designs by one well known maker. Their beam widths are inappropriate (too wide) for anything other than off road and pretty much guaranteed to be glaring in the eyes of oncoming traffic at any aiming point. So their design band aid is a dimmer that probably also compensates for poor temp management at the LEDs if its run full output for long. Some of the common halogens like PIAA 1100s also have excessive beam width but their fairly low output and lower glare hide the poor beam width issue..

    The big HID long range lights are really off road only and not at all suitable for road use. So far, these are pretty uncommon on bikes except for a few of the GS types.
    However, if I lived in western jackrabbit country, I'd probably be running a pair of Baja Fuegos on my bike too..

    Most light makers contribute to problems by failing to publish useful specs for their lights. Minimum specs needed to choose well include things like beam width, lumens output, beam shape and cutoffs, etc. Typical riders don't seem to know much about lights or how to select to best address their specific concern..

    Riders I know who run multiple lights pay attention to proper choice, good aiming and good road manners so I can't say I find this an issue with anyone I know.
    But ADVRider has a bunch of folks who've managed to cram 20K lumens onto the front of a GS and if you do that, you certainly need to be careful, especially with the big HIDs. My own RT has about 17K lumens up front and I've deliberately avoided big HID driving lights because of the dimming delay inherent with two high beam switches, instead using a pair of FF50 halogens that switch with the stock high beam switch so are easily managed in a way that won't blind what little oncoming traffic is in the rural area I ride. (And my setup has enough light for very high night speed- can't imagine any real need for more)

    I am running 20 degree beam LEDs (Solstice SP120) under my oil cooler always on and aimed low. They haven't provoked any reaction from any other drivers in a year of use. But I aimed them by walking way out in front of the bike and lowering the beam until it was not objectionable rather than aiming for maximum distance- the match of aiming to beam width choice gives this pair about the same reach as a low beam headlight at about the same height.

    Lights can be a tough choice- those deer are very real and can kill you, an issue
    that is of far less concern to cagers who already carry twice as many lights as many motorcycles. And sometimes riding as night, especially on shorter winter days, is unavoidable..

    Some bikes have very poor front visibility even with stock low beam on. A friends R1100S comes to mind- its H1 projector low is nearly invisible at even a slight off axis in daylight. OTOH, my RT with its dual H7 - in larger reflectors is at the other end of the spectrum..I believe all bikes should be carrying a triangle set up front so cagers can more easily judge distance to the bike...

  13. #13
    Themason 42906's Avatar
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    I run a 100/55 watt H-4 bulb in a stock K-100RS headlight assembly and it lights up a measured 4/10 of a mile of dark desert road. For 4/10 of a mile ahead of me it is almost like daylight. I can certainly see all the road hazards ahead of me with more than sufficient time to avoid them. I cannot for the life of me see any reason to mount all the extra lights so many seem to be fond of. With that one light I can comfortably run 100 mph on some select roads in the desert and not over drive the available lighting. 4/10 of a mile is over 2100 feet, twice the length of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. That is how far that one headlight illuminates the road. Why do you need more?
    Experience is what you get when you don't get what you want.

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    Registered User rxcrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 42906 View Post
    I run a 100/55 watt H-4 bulb in a stock K-100RS headlight assembly and it lights up a measured 4/10 of a mile of dark desert road. For 4/10 of a mile ahead of me it is almost like daylight. I can certainly see all the road hazards ahead of me with more than sufficient time to avoid them. I cannot for the life of me see any reason to mount all the extra lights so many seem to be fond of. With that one light I can comfortably run 100 mph on some select roads in the desert and not over drive the available lighting. 4/10 of a mile is over 2100 feet, twice the length of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. That is how far that one headlight illuminates the road. Why do you need more?
    I'm running the same watt bulb in my R1100RS and also feel no need for additional lighting until I tip into a turn and watch the world go dark ahead of me. It is a bit interesting aiming for the apex that I'm pretty sure is still where I last remember seeing it. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do yet, but I will eventually add some lighting that works in a turn.

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    Well for one thing its easier to illuminate a dry desert than a wet patch of woods along an edge...
    But I do agree with a basic premise that once you've got enough for your purpose, more isn't better

    I suspect there are a few using long range driving lights mostly for conspicuity- that's not a good practice. Conspicuity stuff only needs to mimic low beam patterns and reach, not huge distance...

    Personally, I find modulators more annoying than a set of bright lights...

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