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It's the age old debate, this time done with the full reddit sensibility.
I have to say, I don't really get that whole loud pipes save lives thing. I drive a truck when I'm not on the bike. With the windows up and the AC on, and some modestly loud music playing, I barely hear loud pipes anyway but I am always looking for bikes. If I was one of those people who were simultaneously making a phone call whilst eating bagels and coffee in a virtually hermetically sealed BMW X5, I almost certainly wouldn't hear you. And nor would I hear or feel the scraping of metal as I winged you off the road like someone did to me the other day.
I have to agree with one of the commenters. Loud pipes seem purely about image and that's where they really fail. Out on the open highway, they may sound great. But when you ride down urban streets at night with enough bottom end to vibrate windows, they've failed. There's no safety argument there, but there is the sway of opinion that motorcyclists remain a bunch of anti-social wastrels. If you need a loud pipe to remind someone you are there, pull the clutch in and red-line it for a moment. It doesn't always need to be loud...
That's not to say there isn't a safety problem. A better way of dealing with that as another commenter remarked is to wear a hi-viz safety vest. Now I personally wouldn't be seen dead in one of those things and I doubt they help visibility that much if the car driver isn't even looking. Instead, I do the next big thing: I ride big on the road. I move gently side-to-side as I am passing cars to ensure I look bigger than I am. I don't sit in blind spots. Every car I pass, I try to make eye contact with, whether in their mirrors or direct to the driver. Not try and intimidate but the be sure they are looking at me. And if they've moved over to let me pass, or otherwise been considerate, I always try to give them a thumbs up or a wave. It's just good reinforcement.
Sure, I still have moments. These days, when I'm on highways, Im playing game where I try to predict what cars are going to do. Which are the ones that are going to pull out without looking (never look in the mirror ever). Which are the ones that will swerve to prevent me passing (constantly looking in the mirror) or which are the ones that want a race (speed up and slow down a lot). You can tell a surprising amount just by looking at the drivers around you. As a result, I can usually avoid problems before it's happened.
Of course, the real solution is better driver training. The standard required to pass a test in this country is risible. Moreover, the penalties for poor standards of driving simply don't seem to exist. Instead, the police would prefer to address road safety via that old white elephant of "speed kills". I mean, how can they enforce them when I see cops using cellphones while driving (illegal), driving the wrong way up my one way street without sirens (illegal) and parking on cross-walks (illegal). I've also seen cops speeding without the siren on (also illegal) but that's another debate for another day.