Do I need to have my motorcycle headlight on during the day?

You may have noticed that newer cars today come with what is known as “daytime running lights”. These are forward-facing lights that often sit below the headlights designed to make the vehicles more visible during daylighthours. Though the use of headlights during the day appears to be on the rise, it may not be clear whether there is any reason for the popularity. To find out whether you should drive with your motorcycle headlight on during the day, continue reading.

What does the law say?

The law in South Carolina is as straight forward as it can get when it comes to the use of headlights while on a motorcycle, during the day turn them on or face a ticket. State law says that anyone operating a motorcycle on public roads must have the headlight of the motorcycle turned on at all times while the vehicle is in use. Legislators decided long ago that the benefit in terms of increased safety justified the additional traffic requirement.

Benefits of driving with headlights  

close up of a motorcycle headlight with blinker lightEven on the brightest of days, the reality is that it can be difficult to spot some vehicles. Research has consistantlyshown that the use of headlights during the day can greatly decrease the risk of an accident by making vehicles more visible to passing motorists. One study found that four out of five daytime accidents that occur in intersections are caused because one driver failed to see the other vehicle. Headlights increase the odds of drivers noticing others, especially motorcycles, lowering the risk of a collision.

So how much does the use of headlights help? 

Studies conducted by a variety of traffic safety groups across the U.S. and Europe show that the use of headlights during the day can help prevent between 7 and 25 percent of all deadly daytime crashes. That being said, most research indicates that use of daytime running lights reduce accident rates by between 5 and 10 percent across the board.

Benefits for motorcyclists  

Besides the fact that daytime headlights can help make everyone safer, experts say that the lights have been found to have the greatest benefits in cases involving cyclists and motorcyclists. These two groups that are notoriously difficult for other drivers to see. In highlighting just how important headlights can be for motorcyclists, a 2004 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that use of headlights led to a 23 percent reduction in opposite-direction crashes involving motorcyclists, as opposed to a 5 percent drop for those in passenger vehicles. Experts say that oncoming motorists are able to detect a headlight long before they can make out the motorcycle or its rider. The headlight provides an extra bit of warning, something that might be the difference between a dangerous accident and a safe journey home.