West Virginia Man Petitions for More Lights on Motorcycles

Bob Cunningham is a veteran motorcycle rider and motorcycle shop owner in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Some time ago, Cunningham was stopped by police for being in violation of state law for having too many lights on his bike. Cunningham knows that visibility is a big concern, especially at night, and says that motorcyclists should be allowed to put extra lighting on their machines to increase their visibility.

Cunningham’s experience with West Virginia law enforcement has inspired him to launch a campaign, along with help from state Delegate John Overington, to get legislation approved for additional lighting. Cunningham says he has already gathered over 1,000 signatures for a petition in support of such legislation. Overington introduced the bill last year, but it failed to emerge from the Senate before the legislative session ended.

Until such legislation is passed, there are some steps that motorcyclists can take to help increase their visibility by improving the effectiveness of their existing lighting.

Examine your front and rear lighting. If you have a tiny brake light, consider replacing it with a larger model. If this is not possible, you can purchase a halogen brake lamp, which is 30% brighter than stock bulbs and costs only about $10. You can also purchase super bright LED lighting from a specialty company that is much brighter than the typical automotive bulb. True UltraBright LEDs are expensive, so expect to pay more if you want a truly bright LED.

Check your state’s regulation on headlamp aiming. Raise the beam to the maximum angle allowed by your state. You can do this without special tools by up-righting your bike and casting the headlight on the wall of your garage. Measure from the ground to the exact center of your headlight, and then adjust the beam projected on the wall (high beam). A rule of thumb is to drop 2” for every 10 feet, but you should check with your state to conform to their regulations.

Consider adding reflective tape to your bike, helmet or riding gear. Also, consider your riding style. Stay near the center of the lane, where you are best seen. Riding near the center line is dangerous and you could blend in with street lighting if you ride too close to the edge of the road. Lastly, slow down and stay aware of your surroundings.

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