Motorcycle Safety Device: Shedding Light And Saving Lives? - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/26/08 - East Texas

Motorcycle Safety Device: Shedding Light And Saving Lives?

Recent motorcycle accidents in East Texas have taken the life of one man, and another is still clinging to life in ICU Wednesday night. Chances are you may have come close to hitting a motorcyclist yourself. So what does it take to protect everyone, even drivers, on the road? KLTV 7's Courtney Lane sheds light on a device created to draw more attention to motorcyclists.

They're called headlight modulators; a small box that fits into a cycle's headlight, flickering the beam during the day.

"They modulate; they go up and down like you're controlling the volume," said Stephen Westmoreland, Ed.D., who just ordered a modulator for his bike, hoping it draws more attention. 

"It's motion and we tend to focus on motion quicker than we'll focus on a steady light," said Westmoreland. 

"Anything that the manufacturer can do to make the motorcycles more visible is definitely a benefit," said Sergeant Herbert Hayter with the Tyler Police Department. 

"I think they help a lot because without them, you need all the help you can get," said Broadway Power Sports Salesman, Otto Berndt. 

But not all riders think they help.

"Most bikes already have a high beam switch that when we're coming up on people we hit them with that," said rider Toby Lowe.  "So, I mean, it's going to be a matter if a person sees us or not."

"A recent survey showed that most of the accidents that happen here in Tyler are due to driver inattention errors," said Sergeant Hayter.  "I know that we've had quite a few here lately."

In fact, a rider remains in critical condition Wednesday night, after being hit on his way to a friend's funeral this past Saturday. That friend was also killed in a motorcycle accident this month, 51-year old Sammy Rocco.

"The worst problem we have is seeing a lot of people on cell-phones, probably cutting over in front of us real close," said Lowe. 

"Even sometimes we may run into a position where a motorist may not see us," said Sergeant Hayter.  "They may either pull out in front of us or switch lanes over into us."

The modulators may not be a simple solution, but at least they could help save lives.

"That guy was on his way to his grand-child's birthday party and he was killed at 51," said Westmoreland.  "Those people have families."

The headlight modulators automatically shut off at night. They can be ordered online or through most motorcycle dealers around East Texas. They range in price, but on average, cost about $100.

Courtney Lane, Reporting  clane@kltv.com

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