motorcycle noise: maybe more is better

I witnessed a motorcycle accident today.  It was really loud and is the second one I’ve seen in 6 months. In both cases I didn’t hear the motorcycle before I heard it in the accident.  It’s an awful sound. The one before this sounded like a plane landing next to you. It sounds like nothing else you hear and all you know is something somewhere has gone terribly wrong. There’s the collision plus the bike slides on the pavement. While I don’t like motorcycle noise, I now think motorcycle noise is protective.  It puts surrounding cars on notice that a motorcycle is around. Cars just aren’t looking for them, and they can disappear in a car’s mirror easily.

So I was surprised to learn that legally in the US across states statute-wise there are frequently ceilings on motorcycle noise–for example, 84 dba at 50 feet in Colorado–but apparently no minimums.  You can be whisper quiet like a bicycle.  But bicycles are mostly always on the right-most side of the road and are slow.  Being whisper quiet and visually slight while sandwiched between mammoth SUVs, trucks and cars carries a danger, I’m now convinced.  And I’m surprised that at this point in transportation history that manufacturers–the insurance industry really, hasn’t actuarially linked motorcycle noise to accident risk–I assume they haven’t given the lack of any minimums. I’d like to see a simple regression analysis of auto/SUV/truck and motorbike accident as a function of motorcycle noise decibels by speed. I wonder how frequently loud Harleys are ever in accidents due to other drivers’ fault. Finding a connection might lead insurers to lobby for a noise minimum of so many decibels–and engineering for more noise is easy for manufacturers. The rider could not get up and was taken via ambulance but here’s the bike after a cop set it upright.

Apparently the bike went vertical in collision with the car or completely overturned to acquire top level damage like this. The color of the car was light silver, like the color of the damage though the damage appears done by a rough surface like the road rather than a car panel, and the car’s passenger side rear quarter panel looked pretty beat up afterwards. I saw the rider as he landed on his side and rolled onto the sidewalk next to his assaulted bike.

  1. Andy Ford said:

    While it’s always terrible when vehicles crash and cause injuries and death, this piece isn’t accurate nor factual.
    The truth is that there are many thousands of bikers who ride safely every day on their whisper quiet Honda Gold Wings and other brands. And they are able to do this by driving defensively, wearing protective motorcycle clothing that has loud colors and sometimes by using a loud air horn. The largest study on motorcycle safety, The Hurt Report, didn’t find that loud pipes improve safety. No, in fact they found that loud bikes were over represented in crashes.
    All motorcycles made after 1982 are required to have an EPA noise certified exhaust with a certification label embossed into the muffler. It’s illegal under federal law to replace the certified exhaust with one that isn’t certified or to tamper with the legal muffler to make more noise.
    Millions of Americans are fed up with motorcycle noise pollution and want something done about it. That’s why Maine Citizens For Quiet Motorvehicles was formed. There’s more information available on their Facebook page.

  2. teriabel said:

    Thank you for your reply, Andy. My thoughts:

    (1) You won’t get disagreement from me that motorcycle noise is annoying—it surely is to me personally, as is loud diesel engine truck noise from a range of engines, including some (Cummins) that paid my salary for a fair number of years. I got attentive to this after a 6’ 5” intimidating sheriff’s deputy threatened to take me for a country spin on his personal bike (a 750 pound monstrosity he called “Passion”—a Japanese model I think). I told him I didn’t like motorcycle noise and asked him to turn it on to hear how loud it was (I definitely wasn’t riding if it was loud). He immediately alluded to an alleged increased safety correlated with pipes.

    This immediately resonated: I rethought an accident I had seen weeks earlier when late at night driving slowly seeking an address I suddenly and legally made a U-turn, only to suddenly hear what sounded like a plane landing–a long elegant bike that made no noise at all went sliding past me for forever with the driver holding on. Up to then I was sure I was the only one on the 4-lane road. I never saw him or heard him. I was shocked. I drove over to where he was wondering if he was alright and where he had come from. He popped up, said it was his fault and didn’t even seek my information because he had glanced over at a Waffle House and wasn’t paying attention to me turning.

    Then this Honda accident–the cop processing it seemed to raise the point again like it was a routine professional observation of his: “They just aren’t looking for them [motorcycles]. They don’t know it’s there.” Hence, this post.

    (2) What I’m technically saying here is qualified as my opinion, burgenoning versus solidified, based upon a tiny data set of my personal but compelling observations (surely buttressed by these professional law enforcers who partly manage and clean up catastrophe after motor vehicle accidents for a living)—so in that sense I think it’s not useful to score my opinion in terms of any “accuracy”—plausibility,yes; but sheer accuracy, no.

    (3) I didn’t find your claims corroborated in the Hurt study. What I actually found seems to support my concerns and the officers’ position. For example, Wikipedia prefaces the enumerated Hurt findings with ( ):

    “The Hurt Report findings significantly advanced the state of knowledge of the causes of motorcycle accidents, in particular pointing out the widespread problem of car drivers failing to see an approaching motorcycle and precipitating a crash by violating the motorcyclist’s right-of-way.”

    But in particular, these findings seem supportive of my proposition purportedly in section 12.1 (pages 416-419) of the document to which I’m referring: ( )

    -6- In the multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.

    -7- The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.

    -13- The view of the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved in the accident is limited by glare or obstructed by other vehicles in almost half of the multiple vehicle accidents.

    Your advice to drive defensively is reflected in finding 26:

    -26- Lack of attention to the driving task is a common factor for the motorcyclist in an accident.

    We all drive defensively, as our talent, alertness, reaction time, intuition and vehicle performance ranges allow. But I personally think requiring a motorcyclist to drive even more aggressively defensively is an undue burden on the motor cyclist, even if achievable. So I’d still welcome a regression analysis considering the parameters I mentioned, as I don’t formally detect it in the Hurt study. The study also mentions that a significant proportion of the multiple vehicle accidents happen at low speeds, which would correlate with the engine’s lower RPMs and generation of less noise, while we more associate speed as positively correlated with accident frequency and certainly severity. When a bike and a car collide, the car is at fault—that seems clear. But the argument that if only the motorcyclist had been an even more defensive driver it wouldn’t have happened (1) assumes that the motorcyclist wasn’t already driving excessively defensively, and (2) arbitrarily places a special defensive driving burden upon the cyclist that may be unrealistic. Finally, it does so without conclusive consideration of maybe workable alternatives. In the states, more and more motorcycles and small scooters are making their way onto our roads and no roads seems to have the density of SUVs and large trucks for example as do American roads. I just wonder if we can do better than simply leave motorcyclists to individually manage this threat as is.

  3. Andy Ford said:

    Thank you Teri for your very detailed reply.
    I asked a friend of mine, who has been riding for 40 years always with factory pipes, how he was able to avoid crashes with a quiet bike. He said it was a matter of driving defensively and loud colored clothing. I know another man who has been riding for over 40 years quietly and safely. And another biker of 60 years riding experience, who used to ride a whisper quiet Gold Wing and teaches motorcycle safety, has also avoided crashing.

    Here’s some additional comments by experienced riders.

    Victoria Purdum Blanchette: defensive driving, visibility, and helmets do save lives, not loud pipes. I just finished a 2600 mile trek from Maine to Virginia and used a dayglow jacket. I did have an air horn on my bike, but I did not even need to use it at any time in the trip. People saw me, I saw them, and we had a great, safe ride.

    I believe that we have agreed that we disagree.

    Take care.


  4. teriabel said:

    I read the article and thank you for sharing, Andy. Be safe.

  5. Chris said:

    I never like to hear about anybody getting hurt and not a summer goes by without me seeing at least 100 cars with sticker-tributes to someone who died on a motorcyle, but:

    Using the same thought process as “Loud Pipes Save Lives” why then couldn’t we apply that to all facets of driving? All cars should have loud exhausts so that all other drivers will know we are there. Bicycles are especially vulnerable and should be fitted with loud sirens that sound as the rider pedals. Pedestrians should carry bullhorns or air horns so they don’t get killed by a careless driver, OR we could just be more careful drivers.

    Not trying to be insensitive here, but it can be kind of ridiculous during the summer at 5am when the “Weekend Warrior” down the street sees it fit to go full throttle from a dead stop and wake everyone up.

    • teriabel said:

      Hi Chris,

      To be clear, the base issue is “notice”, i.e., whether operators of motor vehicles on the road that are generally moving at similar speeds are on notice that the others are there; any car is on notice that any other car–easily perceived in any one of several mirrors by virtue of its size alone–is there. It’s also on notice that a pedestrian may appear in a legally marked off crosswalk.

      There’s a huge size differential between cars and motorcycles–but that’s not actually what drives the motorcyclist’s “disadvantage”. The disadvantage is driven by the combination of size plus the proportion of on road traffic historically and currently constituted by motorcycles (growing but still small).

      There’s a huge size differential between tractor-trailers and Volkswagons too–but tractor trailers know they are the size exception on the road. Some even have specially equipped mirrors (particularly on the right front nose, versus door) to accommodate this.

      But this actually wasn’t even my original point so much as was my curiosity about the insurance industry’s position as related to my own observations (more below).

  6. Anthony Rizzolo said:

    Mr. Abel is certainly oversimplifying and missing the far bigger picture. Motor vehicle noise is and has been regulated since almost the invention of the internal combustion engine. Vehicle noise is and always has been recognized as a factor which effects human health and quality of life NEGATIVELY. Also, since the beginning of motor vehicles, it has been accepted that, under the law, operation of a motor vehicle on public roads is not a RIGHT but a PRIVILEGE. The human need for living in reasonable peace and quiet actually PREDATES the internal combustion engine and is a basic tenant in the Town and City Charters in most of America. The majority of Americans should NOT have to compromise their fundamental, legal rights just so a few individuals can feel safer while pursuing their hobby. And, yes, riding a Motorcycle is just a hobby, nothing more or less. THAT is why there are laws capping vehicle noise (yes, it isn’t just motorcycles).

    Before I am accused of chauvinism on this issue, I did ride a motorcycle for several years in my 20’s. I was never in an accident and avoided them with defensive driving and a forward facing, horn. I had quiet, stock pipes. My safety was enhanced by the fact that I had many years of experience riding a bike (bicycle) on long trips and in various types of traffic. I stayed safe on both types of bike by using my head, driving defensibly, and staying VISIBLE.

    NEVER did I think it acceptable to force those around me to listen to unwanted and intrusive noise just to feel a bit safer. Also, having ridden and knowing many biker, the truth of the matter is that, to fellow riders, bikers freely admit that their noise is just for fun, and safety has nothing to do with it. Of course, to the non riding public they claim safety because gullible people will believe it and accept the noise without complaint.

    Ultimately, my opinion is that if it is too dangerous to ride quietly, then DON’T RIDE. It’s that simple. Others shouldn’t give up their hard earned piece of the American Dream just so a few miscreants can enjoy their hobby in an antisocial and illegal manor.

    • teriabel said:

      Hi Anthony,

      Well, I surely feel the love here. (And I’m not a “Mr.”, not that you can tell from my “picture”.)
      Actually, I’m pretty agnostic on the issue–I don’t have an allegiance to any thing/constituency at all and am not an “advocate”. Mine is a business blog, and what I was really wondering about was the insurance/actuarial and, hence, profit side of the story (there’s an inverse-parallel in seat belt law which gets “blamed” on an “overreaching” government by those self-identified safe drivers disliking this mandate, but which actually came out of private sector R&D and intelligence—Sweden’s then Volvo corporation significantly–but was embraced by the insurance industry which advocated it into law because it reduced injury and hence, payouts. For the record, insurance firms don’t like accidents; they like the threat of accidents.). I wasn’t arguing for more noise in general and certainly not on the top end, but rather valuing the utility of a higher idling noise and higher noise for lower RPM ranges (even if “artificially” induced, i.e., emanating from outside an engine’s actual combustion).

      Thankfully, I’m acquainted with the history of internal combustion engines—I spent a critical part of my career working for the largest sole producer of diesel engines in the world. Law and health impinged on all we did: much of my R&D work was driven by federal health objectives and emissions requirements (translation: redesign of traditional fuel systems and experimental engine program development for alternative fuels).
      I’d have to disagree on these points: some states have very lenient noise restrictions by statute. The federal laws only concern ceilings (which again weren’t my concern because everybody can hear those). But note that the laws have the goal of promoting general welfare and fostering a healthy environment—the very same goal of one “advocating” for higher idling noise of a motorcycle (should they particularly do so). So there’s a balance that I don’t think is (a) static (the proportion of motorcycles on the road in the US is changing), or (b) has even been truly determined yet from the insurance industry’s own data (where is it exactly?).

      Also, there’s a collective interest to encourage less fossil fuel consumption and carbon footprinting and so motorcyclists are arguably to be encouraged. So while driving is a privilege, these drivers more than others promote this goal, and perhaps a relook at their safety on the American roads as their numbers grow is warranted.

      I also couldn’t agree that any noise-safety opinion is easily reducible to “gullibility”—the deputy I mentioned (never mind police officer) also worked long term in the prison system of the state with the largest population under correctional control in the United States—bigger than California, Texas and New York–in a system with a notoriously high turnover staff among many who couldn’t endure the stresses of working with the prison population; he may be a lot of things, but I don’t think he’s simply “gullible”. I’m just saying I think there are credible opinions all around, ulterior motives as you suggest notwithstanding.

      Again—I personally prefer less noise. I don’t even like loud public cell phone conversations. I just didn’t know why (like in the seatbelt case) the insurance industry hadn’t seemed to throw its weight around on the issue—or at least to a degree that I could readily discern. I have ideas about it now, though (more below).

      I do appreciate your comment.

      • Tony Rizzolo said:

        Sorry about the ‘Mr.’ The only other Teri I know is a man, and yes, he spells it the same way. Being that you are a business person, I would think the answer to your query is obvious. Insurance companies and ancillary business interests don’t factor in loud exhausts because there are no statistics or FACTS anywhere which would suggest that a loud exhaust would save them any money. I have researched this issue for 4 years and have never, ever, found any credible information in support of loud pipes increasing safety; none. However, economics certainly does play a role. The ‘safety’ myth has been perpetuated mainly by motorcycle dealerships in order to up-sell their customers and earn an extra few bucks. I don’t recall the exact numbers, but I believe the aftermarket muffler business is worth many millions of dollars. In every state they do it in disregard of Federal law and in most cases with no regard to State law as well.
        Another indicator of the lack of factual support for loud exhausts being safer is the fact that I have never found a single safety manual, safety course, or any other educational tool used to educate bikers on rider safety that mentions loudness equating to safety. Even those in the biker community can’t come up with anything ‘official’ that recommends the replacement of a muffler with a louder one to achieve greater safety. That loud pipes save lives is a myth, and business, in particular, and other agencies, governmental or other, tend NOT to deal in myth; especially when they are held responsible and even legally libel for their pronouncements and publications.
        Another difficulty in your assertions is the idea that motorcycles are somehow ‘good’ for the environment. This is also a myth. Not only do they burn dirtier than cars even with stock pipes, they pollute even MORE when they are loud. In addition, there is a misconception that these people are using a gas efficient motorcycle instead of a car. Though this is true sometimes, for the most part motorcycle riding is a hobby and the majority of miles logged on a bike are during ‘rides.’ These rides are for the sole purpose of riding a motorcycle and are not a replacement for automobile usage. In my opinion, burning up gas by just riding around in circles for fun, in the aggregate, wastes more gas and causes more pollution than would otherwise be the case.

        Lastly, given the cozy relationship between bikers and Law Enforcement, I do take everything the police say on this issue with a grain of salt. It is well documented that Local Law Enforcement goes out of its way to perpetuate myths concerning motorcycles in order to protect fellow officers who ride, of which there are many. Given the perpetuation of these myths during casual conversation on the job, I can see it very easily coloring their opinions concerning these issues. Besides, I have heard Officers state things which are laughably ridiculous. They are no more immune or any less gullible than the average person, no matter what their experience.

        In the end, I fall back on my original statement. If riding a motorcycle is too dangerous, then they shouldn’t do it. It really is that simple.

      • teriabel said:

        “Insurance companies and ancillary business interests don’t factor in loud exhausts because there are no statistics or FACTS anywhere which would suggest that a loud exhaust would save them any money.”

        Tony, you really do give business more credit than is due. Business is theoretically efficient but does all sorts of things that don’t make financial sense and cost it dearly–explain a credit default swap for example. If one can’t explain it to a reasonably intelligent person on the street, that’s probably a sign that that company shouldn’t be bothered with that kind of financial engineering if any. But businesses are also good at ignoring lesser drivers of revenue and growth areas until they have been locked out of some normal cash cow, or until a competitor starts paying attention to theirs. So yes, there are big fat bunches of data sitting up in corporations with which they don’t even yet know what to do. For example, insurance companies didn’t always know that they might ought to charge more to underwrite a red car versus the same model in blue. That took data and computers and time. And that’s cars–a vehicle heavily represented among motorized vehicles for which we can get bunches of data. Now you’re talking about motorcycles which have never dominated the motorized (US) landscape. They absolutely don’t know everything. And right now, so long as business is humming enough for shareholders per quarter and they’re making enough money elsewhere for their respective position in the industry, it’s ok.

        If the auto business was so financially smart and competitive and insurance firms so purely profit promoting, they would have had air bags plus 3-point seat belts when the combustion engine was invented and not waited until the 1970’s to even test it. Never mind anti-lock brakes, headrests, child seats, strategically placed mirrors, a third brake light, properly placed gas tanks and all weather tires–all of these things requiring only the most basic science to develop. The first seat-belt was made around 1849. Volvo itself–a very smart and engineering-centric company–didn’t introduce it until about 1960. And it only became US law for manufacturers to standardly produce in all vehicles in 1966. Still, the insurance industry hadn’t won the deal of mandated use, only mandated manufacturing provision. “Use” took another bunch of years for individual states.

        We know use has made a difference–the CDC has statistics of “before mandated use” and “after mandated use” and the drop in death rate from auto accidents is statistically significant correlating exactly for the same period according to a separate agency in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s 2 different and independent agencies coming to the same conclusion.

        Plus, technology evolves and what was thought to be boring meaningless data suddenly becomes materially interesting to the bottom line. Look at e-readers. Look at electronic medical records. Direct business to consumer marketing. Direct pharmaceutical marketing to patients versus doctors. None of this stuff, despite being financially quite lucrative for private industry, was always here and its absence wasn’t precluded by anything scientifically significant–as opposed to, for example, the DNA double helix structural discovery ushering in a whole new dimension of scientific discovery and development, or for example commercially produced microwaves, which accelerated food thawing and reduced cooking time. This in turn correlated with a whole new way and scope within which to package food.

        So no, insurance companies haven’t exhausted the meaning of their data. Nor have they collected much of some data to even examine in the first place: what do we know about large numbers of scooters on American roads and the safety issues? Answer: Not much. We’re learning it now. We don’t even know everything we should know about SUVs and you see how bountifully they reside on our American roads.

        As for the officer’s opinion–it’s no less credible to me than anyone else’s. His bike wasn’t even loud. He had standard pipes. He was only speaking about what he regarded as a general phenomenon.

        I’m not afraid for this stuff to be grey–not black and not white. The bottom line is, yes, maybe we can effect more safety with both more noise notice from a scooter and more color from the scooter’s clothing. To say that absolutely only defensive driving is “the answer” I think is as much personal agenda-driven as saying we absolutely are guaranteed safety by infinitely loud motorcycle engines. It is absolutely unoffensive to me that both elements might matter simultaneously. Arguably some people believed anti-lock brakes would lead to people driving more carelessly because the safety feature of the brakes would erode their own defensive driving (it raised car prices too). There’s no evidence that that happened. On any of these issues, there are advocates and naysayers. But time usually tells. And right now, with our changing on-road vehicle profile, there just isn’t enough of it to declare the verdict as you do. Go to India. Motorbikes are not the same problem. China, no biggy. Mainstreet in USA, different story.

  7. Dave said:

    Teriable, and motorcyclists that advocate loud exhaust systems, agree to disagree with Andy. They also disagree with the laws that clearly prohibits loud exhaust systems. They disagree to the extent that they ignore the laws and ride as loud as they see fit. They wish for a ‘study’ to back up their claims that loud pipes makes them safer on the road. This has already been looked into and found to be a fallacy. The fact is, loud pipes are illegal. The public is fed up with the excuses some motorcyclists use to justify their blantent law braking. They are fed up with all the unnecessary noise. They want the laws recognized, not the wishes and delusions of loud bikers. They want the laws enforced. They want the noise to stop.

    • teriabel said:

      Hi Dave,

      No, I wasn’t advocating for indiscriminately more noise though the title of this post surely and unfortunately gives that impression–it’s the idle and lower RPM range that is grey for me (and seems to be where the accidents happen).

      It’s the operational range that allowed me to not notice the motorcyclists I mentioned, even though I have never caused a single automobile accident and am considered (at least by my insurer) to be a safe driver.

      But you’ve surely educated me about the divisions and grievances around this topic, which I likely underappreciated. Thank you.


  8. Andy Ford said:

    Smoking in a hospital or restaurant (inflicting the toxins in second-hand smoke upon those who don’t want that unhealthy exposure) is now rightly viewed by most Americans as abusive behavior. Riding loud is increasingly being viewed by millions of Americans as abusive behavior. Bikers are less than three percent of the U.S. population and loud bikers are much less than one percent of the population.
    As more and more Americans become aware of this fact and the fact that there are many thousands of bikers who ride quietly and safely every day, effective laws (EPA label law) will be enacted and enforced.
    The truth is that many Harley riders like the distinctive sound of the big V-twin engine and believe that louder is better. If riders (mostly those who ride Harleys) are unable to ride safely and quietly, then they need to sell their motorcycle and find something else to do.

    • teriabel said:


      I’m so thankful that the laws around smoking changed. I actually can’t comprehend how we ever lived that way and didn’t think it was entirely insane.

      It may not really analogize loud riding only because at least with the riding, the driver is actually going somewhere–to work perhaps and therefore is being productive.

      I think insurance firms’ profits come mostly from their invested floats which they feed over time via premiums. Well, given our economy, their floats are presumably “flat” and the average age of the car on today’s US road is statistically older as folks hang on to their vehicles for additional years. Point being I don’t think the premiums commanded by insurers are much to sing about relative to history either. So both revenue streams are stressed. So will insurers start looking for stuff they can tinker with to drive down costs, is my question–I don’t know, but I’m asking, and particularly now in light of the changing distribution of drivers and vehicles on the road (more motorcyclists and scooter riders). Of course, my opinion doesn’t even matter: If there’s a “safety” (translation: “profit”) argument to be made for more/less noise/color in some direction, the insurance industry is terribly adept at doing so.

      Thanks for your comment.


  9. teriabel said:


    I intended to mention–I wouldn’t assume that a motorcycle is a “toy” or hobby for everybody. When gas got up to $5/gallon, I distinctly remember people with efficient Honda cars parking (permanently) their cars and saying, “That’s it. No more driving.” People opened up in major ways to alternative modes of transportation including motorbikes and bicycles.

    As for bike emissions–that’s ultimately up to emissions regulators. But you can only get X amount of CO2 from Y amount of fuel, no matter how “dirty” you burn it. A motorcycle may get anywhere from 35 to upwards of 70 MPG. You can only burn so much in a day. The question is what net emissions would there be if the driver instead wasn’t moving at will past traffic on a bike (even all day long), but doing city driving plus idling and creeping along on I-75 in an SUV with a 9-11 MPG rating, even for a lot less time.

    The other deal is adverse selection. The only people here talking are us. None of the dead motorcyclists from multiple vehicle accidents are here to say, “No amount of my defensive driving could have saved me from that car.” One then asks why you and those who share your position should be assumed to adequately capture those peoples’ experiences.

    I just know I watched somebody almost die because while neither of us mis-operated our vehicles, I made a U-turn and he glanced at a restaurant. Neither is a crime. Neither is even negligent. Neither of us could even have sued the other. Nobody was texting or on the phone or distracted in conversation. He glanced at a Waffle House, perhaps like one glances at a gas station sign to discern the going price of gas, and for that, he should pay (possibly) with his life, or choose to only drive a car he may not even be able to afford to finance, insure, fuel and park? That’s bordering on classist, and it doesn’t make sense to me. People need transportation and not all cities provide adequate public alternatives and routes.

    Something drop-dead failed both of us that night and it wasn’t either of us personally. If I had known that motorcycle was present on the road, I don’t think events would have happened as they did–I naturally may have braked less sharply (in a defensive reflex of my own to keep him from colliding into me) for example. I was awake, donning glasses, driving well under the speed limit and all his lights were working and no mirrors, his approaching headlights or ordinary sensory information signaled to me in the slightest way that he was anywhere around.

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