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Standing on your Pegs
Control AND Visibility

By: James R. Davis

As many of you know from reading other of the safety tip articles I have written, Cash and I have found ourselves riding for dozens of miles at highway speeds while standing on our pegs. In our cases, the usual reason for doing that is that we are a long way from a place to pull off the road for a break when the sky opens up and it begins raining on us - hard. It is almost impossible to see clearly through the raindrops accumulating (actually washing in waves) down our windscreens and our helmet visors. We stand on the pegs to improve our ability to see - our visibility. (Cash has declared that that is one reason she is glad not to have forward controls because standing on the pegs is one behavior we sometimes need to do.)

It is well known that standing on your pegs while negotiating difficult pavement (or dirt) at slow speeds can aid in your control of the bike in that it is far easier to move a bike to one side or the other without having to move yourself with it.

But there is one other time you might wish to consider standing on your pegs while moving, even at highway speeds, and it again involves enhancing your visibility - this time for others. Suppose, for example, that you are riding down a two-lane road that's marked with a line between traffic moving in opposite directions and you notice a commercial area to your right. What are the odds that an oncoming car, particularly one with their left turn blinker flashing, might decide to turn left across your path to enter that area?

That's right, the odds depend on whether or not the driver of that oncoming vehicle notices you or not.

Your BEST behavior in that condition is to slow down in anticipation that you might have to stop or dodge that left-turner (with a cell phone glued to his/her ear). But that might not be enough and is not the only thing that you can do to increase your odds out there.

You can make yourself more visible! In advance, you can do that, (and by law you must), by having your headlights on, and you can wear light colored clothes with reflecting patches. Rather than in advance of needing to, you THEN can also turn on a headlight modulator or flash your brights on and off. (I don't like that last idea one bit because it might be interpreted as a signal by you giving the other driver 'permission' to encroach on your right of way.) You can also gently swerve from side to side within your lane.

Or, you can simply stand on your pegs!!! That certainly makes you more visible to others. It does not destabilize the bike. It cannot be misinterpreted as a signal giving away your rights.

On the other hand, if you happen to get into an accident and there are witnesses who saw you standing on your pegs, you will need to be ready to defend your actions in court. Particularly non-riding public 'understanding' of what you were doing out there standing on your pegs will vary from 'showing off' to 'stunting' to 'racing' (regardless of whether or not you are speeding), and probably not a single suggestion that you were trying to make yourself more visible in order to diminish the likelihood that an accident would occur.

Here is one expert witness who will stand up for your side and describe such behavior as being rational and intelligent instead of 'rider error'.

It doesn't need to be said, but just in case ... If that driver does make a left turn in front of you while you are standing on your pegs, you sit back down as you aggressively use your brakes.

Copyright 1992 - 2024 by The Master Strategy Group, all rights reserved.

(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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