Riding a motorcycle is undoubtedly an exhilarating and liberating mode of transportation, offering a unique sense of freedom on the open road. However, with this freedom comes an inherent risk, as motorcycles lack the protective structure of larger vehicles. Recognizing the need for increased safety measures, the implementation of mandatory Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) in motorcycles emerges as a crucial step. While the thrill of motorcycle travel is cherished by enthusiasts, the sobering reality of elevated risks underscores the importance of measures that can significantly reduce fatalities. Mandatory ABS not only aligns with global safety standards but also has the potential to make a substantial impact on curbing motorcycle-related fatalities, providing riders with a safer and more secure journey on the roads.
What is antilock braking?
You may already know that an antilock braking system (ABS) is installed in vehicles as a safety feature.
ABS is designed to prevent a car’s wheels from locking up when brakes are applied while the vehicle is in motion. In the presence of ABS, the speed sensors play a crucial role. As you engage the brakes, these sensors monitor the diminishing rotation of the wheels. When the rotation is on the verge of stopping, the sensors transmit a signal to the electric control unit (ECU). Subsequently, the ECU intervenes by selectively releasing the brake pads from the wheels through valves and pumps. This action enables the wheels to keep rotating, ensuring that you retain control over the car, especially during braking maneuvers.
For over a decade, the federal government has required ABS to be mandatory in all new cars; however, the same has not been required of motorcycles.
The IIHS shows how necessary ABS is for motorcycles
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) have submitted a second petition urging federal regulators to mandate antilock braking systems (ABS) on all new motorcycles. Despite a voluntary increase by manufacturers in the U.S. from 20% in 2013 to 59% this year, 30-40% of new motorcycles still lack ABS. The IIHS-HLDI president emphasized the need for the U.S. to take a leadership position in safety regulations, citing evidence that fatal crash rates for bikes with optional ABS are 22% lower than those without. The latest HLDI research also indicates 21-24% lower collision insurance claim rates for motorcycles equipped with ABS, debunking concerns that safer riders are solely driving these benefits. The push for ABS mandates is rooted in a growing body of research demonstrating its substantial safety benefits, with potential handling issues on loose surfaces addressable during regulation development. Despite challenges, the urgency to accelerate ABS adoption is underscored by the record-high motorcyclist crash fatalities in 2021.
What benefits does ABS offer motorcycles?
ABS is crucial for motorcycles, as the system prevents wheel lockup during braking, enhancing traction and averting potential accidents. By modulating brake pressure, ABS helps riders maintain control, stability, and steering even in emergency braking situations or on slippery surfaces. This technology is particularly valuable for novice riders, contributing to overall safety by reducing the risk of skidding, shortening stopping distances, and providing a safety net in abrupt braking scenarios. Research, including studies by organizations like the IIHS, supports the safety benefits of ABS, showcasing lower fatal crash rates and decreased collision insurance claim rates for motorcycles equipped with this essential braking system. Despite voluntary increases in ABS adoption by manufacturers, a mandate for ABS on all new motorcycles is advocated to further enhance road safety and align with global best practices.
Motorcycle accidents in Texas
Over the past few years, motorcycle fatalities have only been increasing. According to the Texas Department of Transportation reports that “in 2022, 562 motorcycle riders were killed in motor vehicle crashes, an 8% increase over the previous year.” And in 2020, despite a 2% reduction in motorcycle crashes and decreased overall traffic, safety officials express concern over a 17% surge in Texas motorcycle fatalities compared to 2019.
David Strickland, the administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, stated that “Sixteen percent of all vehicle fatalities in Texas involve motorcyclists.” Despite declining overall crash fatality rates in Texas, motorcycle fatality rates have not followed suit, necessitating continued efforts to promote safe sharing of the road and awareness of motorcycles.
Why are motorcycle accidents often fatal?
While driving in any vehicle is taking a risk of some measure, operating a motorcycle presents even more of a danger. Motorcycle accidents often result in catastrophic injuries and even fatalities due to several factors:
- Limited crash avoidance systems: As we have been talking about, motorcycles often lack advanced safety features found in modern cars, such as anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and stability control. These systems can significantly enhance a vehicle’s ability to avoid accidents or reduce the severity of a collision.
- Lack of structural protection: Unlike cars, motorcycles lack the structural protection of an enclosed vehicle. Riders are more exposed to the impact of a collision, increasing the likelihood of serious injuries.
- Vulnerability to external forces: Motorcycles are more vulnerable to external forces such as weather conditions, uneven road surfaces, and obstacles on the road. These factors can contribute to accidents and make controlling a motorcycle more challenging.
- Limited visibility: Motorcycles are often less visible to other drivers, especially in blind spots. This can lead to collisions caused by drivers not seeing or accurately judging the speed and distance of an approaching motorcycle.
- Rider skill and experience: Inexperienced or untrained riders may lack the skills needed to handle unexpected situations on the road. Maneuvering a motorcycle requires a higher level of skill compared to driving a car.
- Riding without protective gear: Some motorcyclists may choose not to wear adequate protective gear, such as helmets and padded clothing. This leaves them more vulnerable to severe injuries in the event of an accident.
- Risk-taking behavior: Motorcyclists may engage in riskier behavior, such as speeding or weaving through traffic, which increases the chances of accidents. Additionally, other drivers’ lack of awareness can contribute to unsafe road conditions for motorcyclists.
- Higher speeds: Motorcycles, by nature, can reach high speeds quickly. In the event of a collision, higher speeds contribute to more severe impacts and injuries.
- Riding under the influence: Some motorcycle accidents involve riders who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Forbes reports that “More than a quarter of deadly motorcycle accidents (27%) were alcohol-involved crashes.” Impaired judgment and coordination significantly increase the risk of crashes and fatalities.
Addressing motorcycle fatalities requires a multifaceted approach, including rider education, enhanced safety measures, and increased awareness among all road users. Improved infrastructure, such as well-maintained roads and dedicated motorcycle lanes, can also contribute to reducing the severity of accidents.
It is clear that motorcycle accidents can lead to serious injuries or even death. If you have been in a motorcycle accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence, it is important to contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney so that you can receive compensation for your medical bills and pain and suffering. At the Law Offices of Pat Maloney, our legal team will provide skillful and knowledgeable legal assistance to ensure that you are not left with the cost of someone else’s mistakes. To schedule a free consultation with a San Antonio motorcycle accident lawyer, please call us or fill out our contact form.
Pat Maloney, Jr. is a skilled San Antonio personal injury lawyer who has acted as lead counsel and co-counsel in many multi-million dollar verdicts throughout Texas. Pat Maloney represents people injured in car accidents, truck accidents, construction accidents and more. He is well known for his expertise in representing victims of serious personal injuries and has participated as a lecturer in the field of personal injury litigation. He has been named as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” Reference Book every year for the last five years.