Modifying a motorcycle is a great way to personalize one’s ride. After all, it’s also one of the reasons many of us find enjoyment in riding—joy in riding a motorcycle that we’ve made our own. While the variety of modifications available to us is endless, there are still a few things to keep in mind when making changes to our beloved machines. One important consideration is safety, not just your own, but the safety of motorists around us as well. Messing around with the lighting system of a motorcycle is one way to modify your bike. However, lighting plays an important factor in road safety as it greatly determines how visible you will be to the riders around you. As such, many laws and regulations are implemented in order to keep motorcycles functioning properly and as designed. If you’ve ever considered changing the color of your brake light for that extra flair, there are a few things you might want to consider first.
When traversing the roads, colors play a big role in helping motorists navigate the landscape of our roads. Green lights often mean go, yellow lights often signal for caution whether through a yellow flash from turn indicators or through a yellow stoplight, and red lights often imply a stop. As such, brake lights are universally colored in red in order to abide by these color recognition norms—since red often signals a stop, it only makes sense to keep brake lights and rear running lights colored in red. If you decide to change your brake lights to a different color other than red, it may give the wrong impression to other riders out there. Is the rider stopping? Is the rider activating a rear auxiliary light? What does that color mean? Managing the expectations of other motorists on the road is an important part of road safety, and maintaining a red color for the brake lights will ensure that other motorists know what you’re doing.
While not directly related to color, another important factor to consider when changing the brake light of your motorcycle would be the luminosity of your brake light. If your brake light bulb is too dim relative to the rear running lights, motorists on the road may not be able to tell if you’re braking or not. On the flip side, if your brake lights are too bright or too luminous, motorists behind you may get blinded by the intensity and may even squint to protect their own eyes. In doing so, motorists behind you may not be able to react properly to your braking due to the discomfort of the bright light. You might find yourself in a scenario where you get rear-ended simply because the motorist behind you was blinded—and in this instance, it would be the fault of the motorcyclist with extra bright brake lights.
On top of the safety risks on the road, changing out the brake lights of your motorcycle to a different color may also pose a few safety risks. If changing out the brake light will necessitate a few modifications with the wiring harness of your motorcycle, such as if you would need extra power to feed a more demanding bulb or if you were to change the tail light unit altogether, extra precaution is needed in securing the spliced wires properly. Spliced and reconnected wires would need to be soldered properly and protected adequately from the rain, dust, mud, and other elements. Faulty installation could be a fire hazard, and making sure that your lights are installed correctly is a necessity for proper road and rider safety.
While motoring norms should already be enough to convince you that your brake lights shouldn’t be drastically tampered with, the Land Transport Organization (LTO) of the Philippines also released a memorandum back in 2016 entitled the Rules and Regulations Concerning Motorcycle Lights. In this memorandum, the LTO made it very clear that tail lights of a motorcycle must:
- Be only in red color
- Have no blinker mode
Given these requirements, changing your brake light to any color other than red is a violation of this regulation and is subject to fines and, at worst, motorcycle impounding.
At the end of the day, modifying your motorcycle can still be enjoyed but must be done responsibly. Rules, laws, and regulations after all are there to protect you as the motorcycle rider—whether that means protecting you from safety risks posed by your motorcycle, or protecting you from other motorists on the road who may unintentionally put you in harm. Keep those tail lights running properly and glowing in red, and you should be good to ride out for many more days without questioning from the authorities and without mishaps on the road.