Motorcycle Turn Signals as
This question comes up
frequently: "Should I install one of those kits that allows the use of directionals as brake lights?"
In the absence of scientific evidence or studies on how vehicles
react to different types of brake lights, here's my opinion; a response sent to a wBW
Note: One of these days, we may get around to reviewing this type of product (see the Kisan Tailblazer)
...in the meantime, here's an opinion.
The topic of signal lights
being used as brake lights comes up pretty frequently on many of the
email lists I receive. It's my understanding that the consensus is that
it's illegal in most states, but as you've found, the laws are pretty
obscure in this area, so it pretty much depends on how the local law
enforcement officer feels about it.
The other issue is -- are following cars
going to recognize that a directional that comes on means the same thing
as a brake light? There is some question as to whether or not the
lighting of turn signals as brake lights would take a following
vehicle's attention and focus off the actual brake light itself, even
for a moment, and confuse them, which could increase their stopping
distance. Who knows -- it's all pretty theoretical, and I sure wish
someone would conduct a scientific study on how other drivers respond to
My personal feeling is that it's better
to concentrate as much stop light power as close together as possible.
When I follow motorcycles, I notice that bikes invariably have really
bad tailight/brakelight visibility. Some are really terrible. And during
the daylight, many motorcycle brake/tail lights get very washed out in
Many bikes use an 1157 bulb, which burns
as a taillight and then burns brighter as a brake light. I think this is
bad -- there should always be a separate red light that comes on as a
brake light; my feeling is that bikes (and cars!) should always have
"one bulb, one use"; i.e., it's better to have a dedicated
light that goes from not on to red, rather than use a light to do more
than one thing. This can be done via rewiring on many bikes.
The other thing I use is a Signal Dynamics-type LED brake light bar
placed as close to the stock brake light as possible; there are many
different types of LED's or standard red lights that can be easily wired
in to the brake light circuit. The idea is to get a really, really
bright red light that comes on in a single location when you're
stopping, so that there's no confusion about what you're doing and also
so it draws the following driver's attention to the area on the rear of
your bike that means "stop".
Anyway, that's my .02!
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