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Questions & info about the Motor Vehicle Act. Mature discussion only.

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Old 05-20-2010, 08:58 PM   #1
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Modulating Motorcycle Headlights

Conspicuity is an important word in any motorcycle rider's vocabulary. Being seen by other road users is a must to avoid being involved in a collision. One method of increasing a motorcycle's conspicuity is through the use of a modulating headlamp.

In British Columbia either the low beam or the high beam headlight may be modulated, but not both. Since the modulator may only be in operation during daylight hours and high beams must be dimmed when approaching or overtaking other traffic in daytime as well as nighttime, choosing to modulate the low beam headlamps may be the better choice.

Headlamp modulators must comply with section 5.6 of the Technical Standards Document No. 108, Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Canada). This permits a modulation frequency of 240 +/- 40 cycles per minute, requires full filament brightness for at least 50 to 70% of the cycle and a minimum brightness of at least 17% of the maximum brightness at any test point during the cycle. The modulator must include a sensor perpendicular to the highway that shuts off the system during darkness and the headlights must function normally if the modulator fails.

Operating with headlights on at all times is a good idea if you don't have a headlight modulator. In fact, if your motorcycle is manufactured any time after 1974, the headlamps must illuminate when the engine is running.

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Old 05-21-2010, 10:35 AM   #2
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I'm seeing a growing number of motorcycles with these on them.. and it's not just Hawgs anymore... sport bikes too.

...but that said... a modulating headlight won't help you if you drive like a dick.. going 2x the speed limit, passing on the shoulder, etc... way more of that going on nowadays too.
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:39 PM   #3
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I agree...it is not a force shield but it does give the rider a better chance to be seen. I have one on my own bike and had one also installed on my work bike.
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:07 PM   #4
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I find them to be very irritating flickering away in my rear-view mirror. It usually ends in me dimming my mirror in the day which I find to be unsafe.

I'd be interested in seeing any studies done on the safety benifits of making your headlight look like it has a loose wire.
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Old 05-21-2010, 11:26 PM   #5
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Ask, and you shall receive... here's a study from 1979:

http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/487

It's kind of like the argument for DRL's... that it makes your vehicle more easily seen during the day. Some (like me) would argue that there's really no point to DRL's unless you have trouble seeing... in which case, should you be driving to begin with?

The only thing I like about DRL's.. if the idiot behind the wheel somehow forgets to turn their lights on... at least they have SOME lights at night.
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Old 05-22-2010, 10:52 AM   #6
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Excellent link jlenko, I've added it to the links for the story on my site.
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Old 05-22-2010, 11:49 AM   #7
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Ask, and you shall receive... here's a study from 1979:

http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/487

It's kind of like the argument for DRL's... that it makes your vehicle more easily seen during the day. Some (like me) would argue that there's really no point to DRL's unless you have trouble seeing... in which case, should you be driving to begin with?

The only thing I like about DRL's.. if the idiot behind the wheel somehow forgets to turn their lights on... at least they have SOME lights at night.
DRLs are an important safety feature, especially in places with narrow streets with lots of parked cars and other activities going on. I can see just fine, but when you have to process a dozen pieces of information in just a couple of seconds, a car with DRLs is much more easily recognized as a threat.

I personally find flickering motorcycle lights to be more bothersome than anything.
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Old 05-22-2010, 04:43 PM   #8
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Generic research, including the benchmark "Hurt Report' continues to show that the main cause of motorcycle vs car crashes are the fault of the car driver. They either turn across the path of the bike or emerge from a side road, driving into the motorcycle's path of travel. Guess what the #1 statement I heard from car driver who did this and hit the bike ( based on 28 years of investigation) ...??? I didn't see the motorcycle. I spent 3 years as part of a behind the scenes team who had the BC MVA re-written to specifically permit the modulators. My own personal experiences over more than 15 years is that turning it on has a dramatric effect on the cars...they suddenly see you and stop the turn, or stop pulling out of the driveway or side road. It saves my life at least 20 times a season...sometimes almost that many times per day, or so it seems.
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Old 05-22-2010, 05:07 PM   #9
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I don't question the fact that a flashing or flickering light is more attention-grabbing than one that isn't flickering. The times when I "haven't been able to see something" are usually when the person or vehicle is hiding in the blind spots created by either my A, B, C or D pillars. I don't care how much the light is flickering, if it is blocked by one of these pillars I can't see it at all.

Depending on the angles involved, I can get an entire one-ton truck hidden behind one of the pillars.

What I would really like to see are brake lights that flash rapidly three times under hard braking.

I'll try to pay more attention to see if the motorcycles with flickering headlights are more easily seen than ones without. I guess I haven't really given it much thought beyond "I wish that motorcyclist would fix his loose wires" while out driving.
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Old 05-22-2010, 05:25 PM   #10
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It's kind of like the argument for DRL's... that it makes your vehicle more easily seen during the day. Some (like me) would argue that there's really no point to DRL's unless you have trouble seeing... in which case, should you be driving to begin with?
People who don't "get" the benefits of DRLs have probably never driven outside the city or anywhere off nice divided highways. Having learned to drive on two-lane Interior highways, sharing the road with all manner of bikes, cars, trucks, RVs, and semis, since before DRLs were required - and having always had 20/20 vision, thank you - I can attest to their effectiveness and just how well they improve the visibility of other vehicles.
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Old 05-22-2010, 05:57 PM   #11
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The times when I "haven't been able to see something" are usually when the person or vehicle is hiding in the blind spots created by either my A, B, C or D pillars. I don't care how much the light is flickering, if it is blocked by one of these pillars I can't see it at all.
You're a minority. Take a motorcycle for a ride and you'll understand what zulutango is talking about. People will look directly at you and not even register that you're a vehicle on the road (dont know, why but they dont). I've had people start to pull out in front of me many a time, but I watch for it and give my bike a little wiggle or flick the highbeams and you'd be amazed at the look of suprise when they realise you're occupying the space they were trying to fill.
The flashing brakelight would be a very nice addition to the MVA (i've noticed more of them around)
The hole DRL thing I think is dumb, if they're gonna make headlights and dashlights on all the time then force them to turn on taillights too, theres too many ignorant drivers out there who see everything in front of them is lit up and dont realise none of the lights behind them are
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Old 05-22-2010, 11:31 PM   #12
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People who don't "get" the benefits of DRLs have probably never driven outside the city or anywhere off nice divided highways. Having learned to drive on two-lane Interior highways, sharing the road with all manner of bikes, cars, trucks, RVs, and semis, since before DRLs were required - and having always had 20/20 vision, thank you - I can attest to their effectiveness and just how well they improve the visibility of other vehicles.
On the contrary.. I've driven across this great country of ours, many different routes... and across the USA, again on multiple routes... not all main highways.

I guess it helps that I learned to drive before DRL's.. probably before most of the people on RS were born too...

I know what a car on the road looks like... moving or not. I don't need lights on to tell me that it's there.
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Old 05-23-2010, 10:51 AM   #13
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Well, that's why I said "probably"... obviously there are those with the same driving experience as me who don't actually "get it": the point is not that nobody can see cars without DRLs; it's that you can see them BETTER, SOONER, with them.
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Old 05-23-2010, 11:44 PM   #14
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If only there was a way to test that out...

I honestly don't see the difference now compared to when I started driving and DRLs were few and far between... I don't notice a difference when I'm driving in the US either.. other than the last few years, most older cars in small towns 'down south' don't have DRL's. Or in other countries... Mexico, Cuba, etc.. it's just Vancouver (and thanks in no small part to Aircare) that seems to have the newest nicest cars and few if any old beaters...
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Old 05-24-2010, 08:46 AM   #15
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If only there was a way to test that out...
That a car with lights on is easier to see than one without?

Well, I suppose if you discount COMMON SENSE...
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Old 05-24-2010, 11:18 AM   #16
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That a car with lights on is easier to see than one without?
In the daytime?
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Old 05-24-2010, 12:24 PM   #17
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modulating headlights, is this where the headlight looks like its going on and off all the time? ive always wondered what was with cruisers with that happening! i thought maybe they had a bad alternator or something causing the lights to dim like that!
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Old 05-24-2010, 02:15 PM   #18
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In the daytime?
I doubt drls would have been made mandatory if they did not have a benefit. I find them especially useful in the morning and evening, or on cloudy days, in those situations i turn on my lights but most people don't. Even in mid day i think the lights bring more attention to the car.

I personally don't know why they don't make more cars have auto headlights or just make them run full running lights all the time, I see far too many people driving around at night with just their drls on.
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Old 05-24-2010, 02:16 PM   #19
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That a car with lights on is easier to see than one without?
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In the daytime?
Works for motorcycles... and airplanes... and ships... and pretty much any other mode of transportation. Why should cars be any different? :noob:
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:02 AM   #20
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Good idea. I ride with my headlights on as soon as the sun starts to dissapear. I havent been riding long, but it really does scare me the amount of people who just turn or pull infront of me, i give them a quick honk and the look they give me is like "where the hell did you come from."

The worst thing about it, is my bike is not quiet by any stretch. I still think anyone who drives should be forced to take the class 6 knowledge test so atleast they will have some respect to what people who ride have to deal with on a daily basis.
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Old 05-25-2010, 12:57 AM   #21
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Works for motorcycles... and airplanes... and ships... and pretty much any other mode of transportation. Why should cars be any different? :noob:
IDK.. people don't seem to see trains.. lights on or not.
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Old 05-25-2010, 06:55 AM   #22
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IDK.. people don't seem to see trains.. lights on or not.
Oh, I think they SEE them... they just think they can be faster.
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Old 05-25-2010, 03:48 PM   #23
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DRLS are good... however people need to know the difference between DRL and headlights... so they turn the headlights on at night... we are safer durring the day but less safe at night now.

they should have just made the headlights + tail lights come on all the time. instead of comming up with something new to light up.
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Old 05-25-2010, 07:44 PM   #24
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modulating headlights, is this where the headlight looks like its going on and off all the time? ive always wondered what was with cruisers with that happening! i thought maybe they had a bad alternator or something causing the lights to dim like that!
Me too I thought that or just the vibrations. It does attract attention tho the problem I see with it tho is everytime I see a bike with flickering lights I'm looking at the bike and not the road around me even if for just a second.
So yes I've taken notice of the bike but what of the kid crossing the street infront of me. I think thats the issue with cars having blinking lights and underglow its a distraction no different then these modulated headlights.
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:20 PM   #25
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Works for motorcycles... and airplanes... and ships... and pretty much any other mode of transportation. Why should cars be any different? :noob:
Hey, I saw two trucks from WA state today... and guess what? Neither had DRL's. And I saw them coming around the corner.

Holy crap!
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