Cyclists often downplay the importance of bicycle tail lights in comparison to headlights. The headlights of a bicycle are required to be visible from at least 100 feet away while the red reflector positioned at the back of a bicycle merely has to meet very basic legal mandates. If a motorist is unable to see this red reflector, they may also not be able to see the bicycle which could result in severe bodily harm or even death to the cyclist.
Numerous reports and articles exist today that discuss the dangers associated with new cyclists taking to the roads without first educating themselves on proper safety protocols for sharing the road and maintaining safe cycling habits. Most state laws merely require reflectors, however, it is highly recommended for increased safety to purchase and maintain actual bicycle tail lights for increased visibility to motorists and other cyclists.
Cycling safety programs have increased awareness to a point that cyclists are often even pulled over for not having an actual bicycle tail light. Specific examples are present throughout the cycling community of cyclists being struck by vehicles for not having tail lights for visibility. Most cyclists injured during motorist and cyclist accidents have headlights, yet, lack bicycle tail lights.
Research suggests that almost 700 bicyclists were killed each year during accidents involving motorists and cyclists between the years of 2000-2005. Fortunately, this number has decreased slightly during the past few years in large part to increased safety awareness. However, without the proper cycling safety skills, this number could climb once more.
Not all drivers at night take driving with utter seriousness. Some, if not most of the night drivers, are less than alert than how they were a during day time. Even if they see the cyclist perfectly in front of them, without the aid of reflective indicators for cyclists to use, drivers are as good as clueless when it comes to approximating the next motion that the bike rider might take. Of course, if the driver knows about that if the cyclist himself has a rear and tail light to present.