A motorcycle accident led a college student to a good idea, and now it’s gaining traction with investors and is targeted at the motorcycle industry as a whole. The newly developed product is called GearBrake. The module connects to the existing wiring of a motorcycle’s rear brake light and causes the brake light to flash when deceleration or engine braking is detected in order to give other drivers extra time to react in traffic.
GearBrake’s invention recently beat out three other finalist companies in late November to win a Vogt Award, a $100,000 prize, that aims to spur new manufacturing-based businesses, create jobs and boost economic development. It was the second win last month for GearBrake as they previously scored $5,000 at the Kentucky Angel Investors competition for new business.
GearBrake plans to seek an endorsement from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), and hope their light will become as standard on motorcycles as the rear windshield light is on car and pickup truck rear windshields. GearBrake also plans to approach manufacturers to add the module as custom feature, and reached a deal recently with Janus to add the module as an upgrade on its bikes starting next year.
IIHS released its list of best cars for teen drivers based on important safety criteria with teens in mind. Recommendations for teen autos are based on four criteria and recommendations:
The vehicles listed below are considered “best” choices and have the following: Used prices under $20,000 (based on the Kelly Blue Book on July 1, 2014). Standard ESC (Electronic Stability Control). Provide good protection in moderate overlap front crashes and also have good ratings for side crash protection, head restraints, rear crash protection, and good roof strength to protect occupants in rollover crashes.
Audi A3: 2008 and later
Audi A4: 2009 and later
Buick Verano: 2012 and later
Chevy Malibu: 2010 and later
Chrysler 200: 2011 and later
Dodge Avenger: 2011 and later
Ford Fusion: 2010 and later
Honda Accord Sedan: 2012 and later
Hyundai Sonata: 2011 and later
KIA Optima: 2011 and later
Lincoln MKZ: 2010 and later
Mercedes E-Class: 2009 and later
Mercury Milan: 2010-2011
Subaru Legacy: 2010 and later
Subaru Outback: 2010 and later
Toyota Camry: 2012 and later
Toyota Prius V: 2012 and later
Volkswagen CC: 2009 and later
Volkswagen Jetta: 2009 and later
Volkswagen Passat: 2009 and later
Volvo C30: 2008 and later
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on Oct. 29 voted 3-2 to move forward on a proposed rule to impose a mandatory product standard for Recreational Off-Road Vehicles (ROVs) also known as Side-by-Side Vehicles (SSV) or Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV). In its proposed rule titled: Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles (ROVs), the CPSC proposed rules which would require ROVs to have:
- Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower. Vehicles with more powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.
- Bigger, heavier vehicles protect better in a crash. There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list.
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is a must. This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads
- Vehicles should have the best safety ratings possible. At a minimum, that means good ratings in the IIHS moderate overlap front test, acceptable ratings in the IIHS side crash test and four or five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The proposed rule is part of a process that was begun in 2009 out of concern over the volume of SSV injuries. As of April 5, 2013, CPSC staff knew of 550 reported SSV-related incidents that happened between Jan. 1, 2003, and April 5, 2013; there were 335 reported fatalities and 506 reported injuries related to those incidents.
CPSC is relying, in part, on a 2009 repair program for Yamaha Rhino 450, 660, and 700 models to increase the vehicles’ lateral stability and change the handling. Yamaha’s improvement program involved the addition of 50mm spacers on the vehicle’s rear wheels (to increase the track width), and the removal of the rear stabilizer bar (to induce understeer characteristics instead of oversteer). Following the change, CPSC cites a dramatic decrease in injuries and fatalities in the repaired Rhinos.
“CPSC staff believes that a minimum requirement for rollover resistance of 0.70g threshold lateral acceleration, coupled with a requirement that a vehicle model’s rollover resistance is displayed on a hang tag at point of purchase, will increase the rollover resistance of the overall ROV market and will reduce the occurrence of ROV rollovers,” according to a staff report for the commission. “CPSC staff also believes a vehicle handling requirement for understeer will reduce the occurrence of rollovers caused by sudden increases in lateral acceleration associated with ROVs that oversteer. Prevention of ROV rollovers will reduce deaths and injuries associated with ROV rollover events.” On a per-unit basis, CPSC estimates the total cost of the proposed rule would be $61 to $94 per vehicle.
In opposition to the rule proposal, the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) and the Americans for Responsible Recreation Access (ARRA) are urging industry professional to push back against the proposal. The organizations argue that if approved the proposal, “would limit the ability of ROV manufacturers to design vehicles to safely provide the level of performance that is expected by OHV enthusiasts,” the MIC continued. “Page 131 of the CPSC’s briefing package emphasizes the proposed rule’s fundamental weakness: ‘Although the Commission believes that the dynamic lateral stability and vehicle handling requirements will reduce the number of deaths and injuries involving ROVs, it is not possible to quantify this benefit because we do not have sufficient data to estimate the injury rates of models that already meet the requirements and models that do not meet the requirements. Thus we cannot estimate the potential effectiveness of the dynamic lateral stability and vehicle handling requirements in preventing injuries.'”
Veritech Engineering has specific specialty in the investigation, analysis and reconstruction of ROV, UTV and ATV related accidents. Additionally, our Powersports expert, Mark Kittel, P.E., has industry experience in the product development and testing of ATV’s and UTV’s.
Honda demonstrated a new safety feature that harnesses the power of drivers’ smartphones to see pedestrians where a driver and existing camera sensors may not. The feature uses dedicated short range communications (DSRC) technology, which commonly use the same technology to detect smartphones. If a pedestrian or cyclist who has a smartphone enters the cars path, the system will flash a warning on a dash mounted screen, similar to today’s driver warning systems.
The system will “see” a pedestrian who is normally out of view, walking around a corner, between cars, or behind buildings. Honda is also working on a way to use the same technology to detect motorcyclists. “While these are still experimental technologies, they provide strong indication of the future potential for the kinds of advanced collision sensing and predictive technologies Honda is developing to further reduce the potential for serious accidents, injuries and even fatalities.” Said Honda Chief Engineer Jim Keller. Pedestrians could potentially download an application that would warn them of oncoming cars.
Honda is one of several organizations exploring the possibilities of so-called “smart” collision avoidance. The University of Michigan is conduction a 2,850 vehicle pilot study on vehicle-to-vehicle technology for the US Department of Transportation.
On October 27, 2014 Bosch Diagnostics announced the release of CDR software patch 14.1.1. Changes for CDR version 14.1.1 include:
BMW / MINI
- Lateral stability and vehicle handling requirements that specify a minimum level of rollover resistance for ROVs and a requirement that ROVs exhibit sublimit understeer characteristics;
- Occupant retention requirements that would limit the maximum speed of a ROV to no more than 15 mph unless driver and front passenger seatbelts are fastened, and
- A passive barrier or structure to limit the ejection of a belted occupant in the event of a rollover.
Ford / Lincoln
- For MY2014/2015 Hardtop MINI and 2015 BMW i3 and i8, extended the timeout for imaging data from the ACM to 15 minutes per recorded EDR event. For these vehicles, it can take as long as 90 minutes to retrieve EDR data from all 6 recorded event records
Nissan / Infiniti
- Added support for MY2015 Ford Fusion ACM part number ES7T-14B321-AA
- Fixed issue where CDR would only print part of the CDR report for certain ACMs
The Bosch CDR system supports select airbag modules for vehicle as far back as 1996. To see if the pre-crash data from your vehicle’s airbag module can be downloaded please see the BOSCH CDR Coverage List.
Veritech engineers utilize the Bosch CDR system as an important tool to aid in performing vehicle accident reconstructions. Airbag modules are capable of recording valuable pre-crash information, such as vehicle speed, brake application and seatbelt usage, but are not capable of telling the entire story. Accident reconstruction engineers must still consider all of the available physical evidence, along with the ACM data, in to order to properly reconstruct an accident. Veritech Consulting Engineering employs Professional Engineers who are specifically trained and certified in the use of the Bosch CDR system and have performed numerous accident reconstructions utilizing airbag module information. Click on the following link for more information on “black box” technology.
At this point, most people have heard of the “black box” or flight data recorder that is used to reconstruct the details of an airplane accident. (But did you know that despite the nickname, these FDRs are not black at all, but are actually painted a bright orange for easier visibility after a crash?
Many people also know that semi-trucks and passenger cars also have their own version of an accident recorder.
These devices make it much easier to know exactly what happened in an accident. They are used by the NTSB and any other agencies looking into the accident, as well as attorneys who might be representing any involved party in a lawsuit.
But what kind of forensic engineering is available in motorcycle accidents? There’s no black box recording speed, or even who hit who. For motorcycle accidents, it’s beneficial to have someone who’s an expert in motorcycle operation, construction, and dynamics to examine any physical evidence.
An investigation into the causes and circumstances surrounding a motorbike accident focuses on three phases:
1. The braking stage
2. The sliding phase
3. The impact phase
Every detail of the evidence is taken into consideration, including any skid marks, the state of the road’s surface, the weather conditions, and the damage sustained by the motorcycle. Damage to any other vehicles or property involved is considered an important part of the evidence as well.
Along with an inspection of the accident scene, accident reconstruction experts may perform brake tests, performance tests, and even visibility studies when necessary, in the course of their investigations.
Accidents happen quickly. For every person who says they saw their accident happening “in slow motion,” there are many others for whom it occurs so quickly, they cannot offer any good information about exactly what happened. Even if there are witnesses, their testimony about an accident is frequently quite varied, as we each perceive and remember things very differently.
Therefore, the role of an expert motorcycle accident reconstructionist is vital to really understanding what happened.
An insurance industry study reports that the average medical claim from a motorcycle crash rose by more than one-fifth last year in Michigan. What accounts for such a dramatic rise? The state passed a law no longer requiring all riders to wear motorcycle helmets. And many motorists took advantage of their new freedom, hitting the road sans helmet.
Across the nation, motorcyclists opposed to mandatory helmet use have been chipping away at state helmet laws for years while crash deaths have been on the rise.
According to the study done by the Highway Loss Data Institute, the average insurance payout for a motorcycle injury claim was approximately $5,410 the two years prior to the law being changed, when helmets were mandatory for all riders. After the new law went into effect, the average payment rose to $7,257— a 34 percent jump.
The Highway Loss Data Institute is part of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the losses sustained from crashes on the nation’s roads. This includes personal and property losses.
The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) supports this mission through scientific studies of insurance data and by publishing insurance loss results.
According to HLDI’s chief research officer David Zuby, “The cost per injury claim is significantly higher after the law changed than before, which is consistent with other research that shows riding without a helmet leads to more head injuries.”
This particular study is the first one to take a specific look at the consequences repealing helmet laws have on the severity of injuries as measured by medical insurance claims. Although some states have set minimum medical insurance requirements for motorcyclists, “that doesn’t even come close to covering the lifelong care of somebody who is severely brain-injured and who cannot work and who is going to be on Medicaid and a ward of the state,” according to Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.
Giving an opposing opinion, Vince Consiglio of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Michigan, claimed bikers not taking the required safety courses was the real cause of the increase in injuries. According to Consiglio, bikers without motorcycle licenses make up an increasing share of fatalities and injuries.
Nationwide, motorcycle fatalities are on the rise, even as many states are weakening or repealing helmet laws. The fatality rate for riders has gone up for 14 of the past 15 years. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported 5,000 deaths in 2012—14 percent of overall traffic deaths for that year.
Bell Helmets is launching an important first for the company this month with the addition of the Moto-9 Flex, an offroad helmet with a new approach to impact protection. The company is using what it calls “progressive layering technology” in the Moto-9 Flex liner to manage high-, medium- and low-speed impacts, as well as rotational impacts.
The system incorporates three protective materials, each designed to address specific impact velocities. Bell has discovered Expanded Polyolefin (EPO), which works in tandem with the often used Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) and Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) layering systems. EPO is a soft and flexible low-density polymer that, when placed between the EPP and EPS layers, dampens low-threshold impacts. Bell has addressed rotational energy management by engineering a “slip zone” within the liner which allows for subtle movement between the inner layers in an effort to reduce rotational energy transfer from angular impacts.
There are two different types of forces at play whenever an impact occurs:
- Added support for MY2015 Nissan Titan and Infiniti Q50 vehicles
Rotational head injury is startlingly common, but often under-recognized as a threat. It is the principal cause of brain injury from motorcycle and motor vehicle accidents. It happens because the head rotates around its point of articulation, which is the neck. This causes the brain to rotate within the skull tearing the veins and causing bleeding which results in a subdural hematoma. Because the head is not perfectly round, the brain not only spins as a whole but some parts within it spin at different rates. This sets up additional shear forces inside the brain itself. This stress within the brain results in the tearing of nerve fibers and tiny veins within the brain. This is called Diffuse Axonal Injury (DAI).
“We’ve seen so much attention and discussion being given to specific impact scenarios, and that concerned us, because off-road motorcycling can be completely unpredictable. A proper helmet needs to protect the rider in the widest array of situations they might encounter,” said Chris Sackett, Bell Helmets vice president.
- A LINEAR FORCE, which is caused by a straight and direct impact (such as when a ball hits a wall without rotating); it consists firstly of blunt compression (the hit) and then a reaction (the bounce) causing direct injury to the point of impact and potential further injuries following a straight line into the brain.
- A ROTATIONAL FORCE is slightly oblique and causes the head to rotate around its point of articulation at the top of the spine as it is hit.