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If you are part of my generation, you are probably familiar with the phrase “speed kills”. This expression was originally coined as part of an anti-drug campaign in the late sixties in response to a rash of amphetamine related deaths. Since that time, it has been adopted for many different causes. I will exploit its ease of remembrance here, and add a phrase of my own; never outrun your eyes.

What this means, in simple terms, is as motorcyclists, we should never ride so fast that we don’t have time to observe and react to what is happening around us. This is a good rule to follow at anytime, but it is even more important when riding at night, when our vision is very limited.

Here are just two, very good reasons we should slow down at night, even on apparently open roads.


Florida is known for its diverse wildlife and our area is no exception. Animals ranging in size from field mice and toads to deer and adult alligators are not uncommon sites. The majority of these animals are nocturnal by nature, having learned that the night is the safest time for them to be moving about.

Unfortunately for us, as riders, this means that they are more likely to pop up when we are least likely to be able to see them. Even a smaller animal, like an opossum, raccoon, or even small dogs, can ruin your night, not to mention your body. As for larger animals, you don’t want to know what a deer or gator can do.

People: Motorized and Otherwise

Another reason for us to slow down at night is the most dangerous animal on the planet, namely Man, in his most dangerous state, intoxicated. We are all painfully aware of how dangerous drunk drivers can be.

What many of us fail to take into account is that inebriated folks do unsafe things even if they are not driving. On more than one occasion, I have seen people stumble into a street after enjoying the evening, and if you should strike one on your bike, it could be a double whammy.

One, you are basically running over a very large animal that will wreck you and your bike. Two, under Florida law, pedestrians always have the ‘right of way’. This means you could easily end up being held liable for the accident and in a worst case scenario, could be charged with vehicular manslaughter.

The victim’s inebriated condition would certainly be seen as a mitigating circumstance, but it is much easier to slow down, stay aware, and avoid dealing with John Law altogether.

Most people instinctively slow down when riding their bikes at night, but how much is enough? That is truly something everyone must decide for themselves. Riding at night, unexpected obstacles in the road are going to come at you much quicker than you realize and you are going to be blinded from time to time by oncoming headlights. As the two examples above illustrate though, what is coming down the road or even laying in it are only part of the dangers that can lurk in the shadows. What is coming from the sides, outside the range of your lights, can be just as dangerous.

Riding at night can be a beautiful experience if you take your time and stay aware. I’ll leave you with another old saying that I feel is very fitting to this weeks topic: “better late than never”.