I've read the topics on flashing vs. steady lights, but my question is even more basic:

Is there any data to support my contention that a flashing rear light will significantly increase the safety of a rider in the DAY time? I know as an automobile driver I certainly see them sooner, but that's purely anecdotal.

My 14-yr-old, raised on a cul-de-sac with what I would call a "less than stellar" sense of urban traffic, naturally thinks blinky lights on the back of your bike make you a loser. But while he is a teenager, he's smart and logical enough that if I had some convincing data on accident rates, he'd probably buy it.

Try as I might, I've been unable to find much!

  • 4
    Possible duplicate of bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/2294/… Jun 27, 2013 at 23:55
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    If your 14yo thinks its uncool, he will turn it off as soon as he goes around first the corner and is out of site of home, no matter what logic you throw at him.....
    – mattnz
    Jun 28, 2013 at 2:26
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    I am 25 and am very much against blinking rear lights when they are not necessary. Especially in the park, when I am relaxing on a bench or on the grass, a $50 xeon red light, blinking rapidly to get attention. Or when whe are more than one biker in a row, and the person in front of me is flashing the BigBetty.
    – Vorac
    Jun 28, 2013 at 8:19
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    "while he is a teenager, he's smart and logical enough that if I had some convincing data on accident rates, he'd probably buy it." Well done raising your boy to be a sceptic. It seems that you could learn something from him on the subject of evidence-based safety policy. Is there a reason you asked, "Is there some evidence that shows I'm right?" instead of, "Is there some evidence to decide whether I'm right or wrong?"
    – Dan Hulme
    Jun 28, 2013 at 8:27
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    Replace his entire wardrobe with hi-viz clothing. He'll love it and be safe too.
    – Benzo
    Jun 28, 2013 at 12:53

2 Answers 2


After much searching for any possible statistics on flashing versus steady lights, I found none...only opinions, and lots of them! It seems people do recognize a flashing red rear light more quickly and from a greater distance away than a steady light, but as far as judging the distance to the bicycle rider the vehicle driver is, seems to be a problem for some. I use a flashing red light in the rear at all times. On cloudy overcast days and before sunset, I use a flashing white light at the front ( especially when the setting sun may be in the drivers eyes ). And of course a steady white light after sunset. Emergency vehicles have flashing lights for a purpose. You can see them coming from the front or the rear well before you may hear their siren, so the flashing lights do draw attention. Your 14 year old son will be just like other kids his age ( I know I was! ), and won't pay much attention to what you ask...until he has a "close call!" Kids his age think most drivers are about their parents ages. They don't really consider the elderly person driving down the street with 80 year old eyes or other problems, as being a danger to their activity on a bicycle. If he thinks the flashing light is "not cool", then there's a lot of flashing red light "nerds" in my area includiong me! I wish to live to ride another day, so I tend to attract as much attention to my position on the road way as possible. All you can do is "advise" and hope eventually they feel you're more right than they are. As long as he uses the rear light, that will give him more time to realize you're only looking out for his welfare.


There are some rear lights that have really cool flashing patterns with very tiny but bright LEDs. I have a pair (front and rear) of Knog's each of which has four LEDs but are only about 1.5 inches square.

I'm all too far away from my teen years, but my cycling group thinks these are cool :-)

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