Many lights designed for bicycles give bicyclists the option to set the light to “steady” or “flash” mode. This means that bicyclists riding at night must make a choice: will flash mode help them stay safer on the road, or will steady mode?
Studies of bicycle light visibility indicate that the question isn’t an easy one to answer. For instance, a 2001 study of rear lighting used on maintenance vehicles found that while flashing lights made it easier for drivers to see the maintenance vehicle from a distance at night, the flashing lights actually made it more difficult for drivers to track and avoid hitting maintenance vehicles parked on the side of the road. Although the steady lights meant drivers didn’t see the vehicle as quickly, the steady lights also made it easier for drivers to give the vehicle sufficient space as they passed it.
In a 2009 study by the Queensland University of Technology, researchers found a significant difference in perception about the safety of bicycle lighting. Bicyclists were far more likely to think they were visible if they had bicycle lights than drivers were. And while drivers rated flashing lights as “more visible,” they also said that it made it harder to determine exactly where the bicyclist was and how fast they were going – a situation that might raise the risk of a bicycle crash relative to using a steady light.
New Jersey law requires bicyclists to have lights on their bicycles when riding at night. In addition, reflective clothing can help a bicyclist be seen more easily. Experienced New Jersey bicycle accident lawyers recommend that all bicyclists take precautions and follow the law in order to reduce their accident risk.