I have a few gripes about the Serfas (runtime is a bit low IMHO, and I really don't like the "rubberband" mount it uses (lost a strap from it on the first day, and they want $5.00 +S/H to replace)), but I keep mine charged regularly, and use it often (later found the lost strap).
The driver wrecked himself quite badly, it sounds like, and is facing serious charges. It's a horrible thing that these two cyclists were in his way when he crashed. But this isn't one of those cases where the pickup truck bumps the bike off and drives merrily onward. It was a for-real wreck, with or without the bikes. They just happened to be there. Lights would not have made the pickup driver wipe out any less. But of course, I want lights on my bike anyway.
Seems like a pretty epic trip, and definitely a similar thing I would do with my girlfriend some day.
I hope if we are killed in a crash in some remote country that people aren't arguing over if we had a blinky light or not..
No road user looks at the road 100 percent of the time...not even people riding bikes. Saying this isn't to defend the person driving the vehicle that allowed it to crash into this couple riding their bikes, but simply to acknowledge the fact that, humans...not being robots or computers...will have lapses in concentration on the main task at hand, in this situation...driving.
Presume the guy driving looked down, away from the road for 2-3 seconds to the interior of his rig to look for his hat. I'll say that amount of time looking away from the road is not atypical for any person, whether they're driving or riding. In some cases, probably longer for people riding (because they generally tend to travel at a slower speed than do people driving.) than people driving. In that short span of time, many things can happen. Advance observation...scanning the road ahead into the distance...in preparation for looking away from the road for even a brief span of time like 2-3 seconds, and being able to detect things in the distance becomes critically important. Given that people on bikes present a very much smaller image to detect than do cars, anything that helps them be more visible is going to help them be more easily seen.
Though their use on the road is different than bicycles, motorcycles present a similar sized image to that of people on bikes...and in many U.S. states, motorcycles are legally required to run daytime lights...I believe for the reason that the image their size presents to other road users is less readily seen than motor vehicles, and because people riding them are vulnerable road users.
People riding bicycles and being made more visible through the use of the range of lights and hi-vis gear available, likely would reduce the chances that people driving motor vehicles don't see them when looking away from the road for brief seconds, as people tend to routinely do.
What time of day was it? Was it daytime or night? None of the articles seem to say.
One problem with touring is that having really bright lights becomes problematic, as feeding them batteries becomes difficult/expensive. You can't really do rechargeable batteries because you can't be sure that you'll be able to recharge them each night. You can do something that takes AAs and buy them as you go, but they don't have that much energy, so the lights can't be that bright.
Probably the best plan is to go with a dynamo, but they generally only provide about 3 watts of power. That's enough for a decent light, but won't get you a really good light.
There are other options as well, but they have their own issues. Solar panel on your packs charging your light's battery for night time? OK, but what if it's cloudy? Using your dynamo during day to charge your battery for a few hours of night riding with 10 watts of light? That may work.
But I think a lot of tourers just go the "buy AAs along the route" route. That will work well for the tail light in flashing mode (with 2xAAA, a PBSF will last 100 hours and is quite visible) but for a headlight you'll want more. A Planet Bike 2w Blaze is a decent light, but it's only two watts -- it's the low end of "see, not just be seen", but two watts would drain 2xAA batteries in about 3 hours.
So I follow a simple rule... don't bike roads I don't know at night, and don't go into harbors I don't know at night. BTW I use this rule in the US as much as anywhere else. It's pretty basic.
In my accident last year I did everything right and by the book...
1. I had a helmet
2. I had adequate lighting
3. I was stopped at a red, and actually fairly center in the lane because there was no traffic behind me and I prefer that placement if I'm first.
4. My bicycle was in excellent mechanical condition.
The person who hit me did so in my lane, head on, after having cut a turn short. I was stopped at a light. She claimed she didn't see me and went on to say she was distracted and had poor peripheral vision. There is no preventing that as the cyclist...you just hope she gets home before or after you're on the road. Gump happens.
Anyone who says that cyclists should be able to avoid all collisions is lying to themselves.
I have nearly been hit from behind four different times while running some of the better cycling lights. Three were daytime and one was at night.
The nighttime one was likely a drunk.
The first daytime one was a guy picking up a CD player off the passenger floorboard.
The second was a woman reading a religious pamphlet. She was letting GOD guide her car.
The third was a old guy that had vision problems and never should have been driving. Even after I bailed, his mirror hit my arm. He hit a car a couple weeks after nearly running me down.
The bright rear light did nothing for my safety with these four drivers. A mirror allowed me to see them coming and bail the off road before they hit me. Sad to think that if any of those jerks had hit me, so many of you would have been jumping onto BFs to blame me.
Stop blaming the cyclist because some jerk cannot watch the road in front of them.