Approximately one-third of all fatal motorcycle accidents in the US could be avoided if motorcycles were equipped with mandatory ABS according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. ABS stands for anti-lock brake systems. This technology which is used on most cars prevents the wheels from blocking when a driver brakes abruptly and vigorously. It is also helps controlling the vehicle while braking for emergency conditions or on slippery roads.
The NYPD and the California Highway Patrol bikes are all equipped with this system which has proven to be very effective to decrease motorcyclist deaths and injuries. ABS is now mandatory on all new bikes sold in Europe and soon they will be mandatory on all new bikes sold in Japan, India and Brazil.
In the US, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulators came very close to making ABS on motorcycle mandatory in 2009. ABS was put on the NHTSA regulatory agenda in July 2009 with the agency citing ” potentially large benefits for braking improvements”. The regulators then suddenly changed their mind and decided “there wasn’t enough proof that the lives saved and the decrease of injured motorcyclists would outweight the additional cost to manufacturers”. Now with the anti-regulatory Trump government, motorcyclists will continue to die on American roads before regulators make the right decision.
Some manufacturers didn’t wait for US regulators to make the technology available to their American customers. Since 2012, ABS is a standard feature on all BMW motorcycles sold on US territories. Other manufacturers such as Harley Davidson began to offer ABS as an option in 2005 but surprisingly many of their customers were against the feature.
Some of the stongest opponents to a mandatory motorcycle ABS are indeed motorcyclists. Many “purists” say ABS is cluttering the classic look of their bikes.
Around 5,000 motorcyclists are dying in accidents every year in the US. More than 1,500 of them could have potentially been saved every year if ABS became mandatory.
Read more in Fair Warning,
Picture of ABS sensor on a motorcycle front wheel: courtesy of Wikipedia