top of page
  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

What Makes Motorcycles Hard to See?

In a large number of cases, motorcycle accidents occur because other vehicle drivers do not see the motorcyclist on the road. They then either take a turn or try to switch lanes without noticing the motorcycle. Doing either of the two often results in a collision. In that collision, motorcyclists are the ones who sustain severe injuries, while other drivers usually walk away unscathed.

Considering all of the above, a question naturally poses itself. What is it that makes motorcycles so hard to see in traffic? The sections that follow will cover the most common reasons and suggest solutions to the problem of visibility.

Motorcycle Visibility Issues

Motorcycle Visibility Issues

1. Size

It goes without saying that motorcycles are much smaller than cars, trucks, and most other motorized vehicles on the road. That is what draws most people to them in the first place. Motorcycles are more agile and infinitely easier to park.

However, their size also makes them less visible, especially on busy roads with thousands of vehicles going by. Car and truck drivers will have a hard time spotting a motorcycle in their side and rear view mirrors, which poses a significant danger to the driver.

In recent times, motorcycle companies have been coming up with smaller and smaller models. People choose them because of their modern look and increased mobility. But as the vehicles continue to shrink, they also continue to become less and less visible on the road.


As far as size is concerned, there is not much one can do. But there is a way for drivers to make themselves more visible. That can, in turn, give more visibility to the vehicle as well.

Drivers should wear Hi-Vis gear whenever they are on the road. First and foremost, that includes a helmet with a fair amount of orange, yellow, or green on its surface. When the sun or the street lights hit the helmet, it will glow and let all other drivers know that there is a motorcycle among them. Aside from a helmet, wearing a Hi-Vis vest is also a good idea.

Another solution is to drive as carefully as possible. That means ensuring there is a lot of space between the motorcycle and other vehicles. If that is the case, then the driver can swerve into safety if there is a danger of a collision.

2. Speeding

Most modern motorcycles can reach great speeds. People usually drive them far faster than the average car goes, which is another reason for motorcycles’ low visibility.

Put simply, the faster a vehicle goes, the less time it spends in the line of sight of other drivers. Thus, other drivers might not have enough time to notice motorcyclists, which can lead to mistakes and even fatal accidents.


This solution is an easy one. All motorcycle drivers have to do is stay within the speeding limit at all times. Doing so will give other passenger drivers more time to register the motorcycle and react accordingly. It is especially important to drive slowly and carefully on busy roads, as that is where the danger of collisions is the highest.

3. Perception Issues

Many car and truck drivers do not consider motorcyclists as equal participants in traffic. That is the case because motorcycles are so much smaller. To most drivers, they might look just like pedestrians at first glance.

So, other drivers might not perceive motorcycles as actual vehicles even if they do see them in time. This phenomenon is known as inattentional blindness, and it has caused many fatal accidents over the years.


Unfortunately, there is not much a motorcyclist can do to influence how other drivers perceive them. In these cases, the only thing left to do is drive carefully, avoid the middle of the road, and try to make oneself as visible as possible. That way, the motorcyclist will know they have done everything in their power to protect themselves.

To Sum Up

Motorcycles are quite hard to see on the road, mostly due to their size. Aside from that, speeding and perception issues can also cause visibility problems. Luckily, there are things that drivers can do to make themselves more noticeable on the road. That includes wearing hi-vis gear, driving within the speed limit, and being hyper-aware of other drivers at all times. Doing so will do a lot to decrease the possibility of collisions and, by extension, fatal injuries—other than wearing protective gear of course, because chances of surviving a motorcycle accident are slimmer without a helmet.

However, accidents are hard to avoid so it is important to be financially safe as well—which is possible by getting insurance. Having your motorcycle insured reduces heavy expenses, and it may even cover a motorcycle that's stolen.

When it comes to handling motorcycle accident cases, hiring experienced motorcycle accident attorneys in Des Moines would be extremely helpful.


bottom of page