Posts Tagged ‘Motorcycle riding practices’

AAA testifies in favor of retaining Tennessee’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

Knoxville, TN – On Tuesday, the House Finance, Ways and Means Committee is expected to vote on House Bill 700 by Representative Jay Reedy (R-74th Dist. TN).  The proposed bill would allow riders 21 years and older not insured with TennCare, to ride without a helmet. Tennessee’s current law requires all motorcyclists to wear a helmet, regardless of age or experience of the rider. The AAA (American Automobile Association) has come out in strong opposition to the bill. Last week during the Committee meeting Don Lindsey (the Tennessee Public Affairs Director for AAA east), testified to the drastic drop in helmet use seen in other states after repealing helmet laws. The auto club also brought in another individual with a personal testimony in support of helmet laws. In the event of a crash, motorcyclists without a helmet are three times more likely than helmeted riders to suffer traumatic brain injuries. Helmets have been shown to be highly effective in preventing brain injuries, which often require extensive treatment and may result in lifelong disabilities. Helmets also decrease the overall cost of medical care. Historically, states that relax their helmet laws have seen a sizeable increase in injuries and deaths. According to a peer-reviewed study published in the American Journal of Public Health, Pennsylvania had a 66 percent increase in deaths caused by head injuries and a 78 percent spike in head injury hospitalizations following motorcycle crashes.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities in Kentucky increased by 58 percent after they repealed their helmet laws.  Finally, in Florida, the number of hospital admissions of motorcyclists with head, brain and skull injuries increased by 82% after its helmet law was relaxed.

Electronic Stability Control is coming for Motorcycles

When electronic stability control (ESC) first appeared on luxury cars in the 1990s, its effect was described as “the hand of God”, reaching down and righting the driver’s mistakes.  But what vehicle is less tolerant of mistakes than a motorcycle, with its propensity to tip over and subsequently expose its rider to all manner of pain and suffering?  What if, as with ESC, engineers developed a system that would stand in the background, unnoticed, waiting to reach out with its electronic hand at just the instant when the bike is poised to tumble? What you’d have is something not unlike the Bosch Motorcycle Stability Control System (MSC). It is fitted to the Ducati 1299 Panigale superbike and KTM 1190 Adventure, while BMW Motorrad, the motorcycle subsidiary of BMW Group, employs some of its components in conjunction with the company’s own designs on all its models. Bosch’s development objective was not for the computer to ride the bike automatically, but to serve as an otherwise invisible safety net for riders, says Frank Sgambati, director of marketing and product innovation at Bosch’s North America division. “The draw for motorcycle riding is the excitement,” he acknowledges. “We don’t want to interfere with or change that experience. We only want [MSC] to appear in panic situations.” Anti-lock braking, a feature that helps dramatically reduce the likelihood of a crash, has been around for many years for motorcycles.  Bosch’s MSC system builds on its existing ABS hardware, adding a yaw and pitch sensor to the ABS module so that the computer knows how far over the bike is leaning and whether it is tilting upward from acceleration or downward from braking.  This may all seem like wonderful news for the cause of motorcycle safety, if only MSC were available on less expensive bikes to accommodate new riders, who would most stand to benefit from such a system.

NHTSA proposes standards to prohibit novelty helmets

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed standards that would effectively ban novelty helmets—helmets that don’t meet DOT standards but are frequently marketed and sold for on-road use.  The proposal establishes preliminary screening criteria to help law enforcement agencies quickly identify helmets that are incapable of meeting the minimum performance requirements. The preliminary screening involves examining the thickness of the inner liner and the outer shell, and of the liner’s ability to resist deformation, which indicates its ability to absorb crash energy. “Motorcycle rider deaths are disproportionally high. Our nation lost 4,668 motorcyclists in 2013 alone and protective helmets could have saved many of those lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Motorcycle helmets that meet DOT safety standards help save more than a thousand lives every year, according to NHTSA estimates. A study of motorcyclists injured in crashes and transported to a shock trauma centers showed that 56 percent of those wearing a novelty helmet had serious head injuries, compared to 19 percent of riders who were wearing a DOT-certified helmet. “Wearing a helmet that meets DOT standards can literally mean the difference between life and death,” said NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind. “Our proposal ensures that when motorcyclists put on a helmet it offers that life-saving protection.” Click here to view the full proposal.

Early Projections Indicate Motorcycle Fatalities Declined in 2014

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is projecting that motorcycle fatalities decreased for the second straight year in 2014, based on preliminary state data. GHSA motorcyclist fatality trend reports, produced annually since 2010, offer an early look at current data and developing issues. GHSA projects the final motorcyclist fatality total for 2014 will be 4,584, or about 1.8 percent less than the 4,668 recorded in 2013. This will be the second straight year in which this number has decreased and only the third decrease since 1997. While the projected decline in motorcyclist fatalities is good news, the report also points out that motorcycle safety progress lags behind that of other motor vehicles. For example, in 2013, the rate of motorcyclist fatalities per registered vehicle was about the same as in 1997, whereas during that time period the rate of fatalities per passenger vehicle dropped 66 percent. Safety improvements to passenger vehicles, such as structural improvements to vehicle design, increases in seat belt use, electronic stability controls and policies such as graduated driver licensing, account for a large portion of the decline in passenger vehicles but do not impact motorcyclists.  There is little evidence that risk factors for motorcyclists have been reduced in recent years, and fluctuations in motorcyclist fatalities are likely to have more to do with economic factors and weather patterns affecting exposure. “We are glad to see a continued decrease in motorcyclist fatalities, but the number of motorcyclist deaths on our roadways is still unacceptable,” said Kendell Poole, GHSA chairman and director of the Tennessee Office of Highway Safety. “While we support technology advances such as antilock brake systems and traction control, state laws and behavioral changes are critical to saving more motorcyclist lives.”  Poole also encouraged all states to adopt universal helmet laws and said, “By far, helmets are the single most effective way to prevent serious injury and death in the event of a motorcycle crash.” In addition to increasing helmet use, the report also recommends that states focus on motorcycle safety programs that:
  • Reduce alcohol impairment.In 2013, 28 percent of fatally injured riders had a blood alcohol concentration above the legal limit of .08.
  • Reduce speeding.According to the most recent data, 34 percent of riders involved in fatal crashes were speeding, compared with 21 percent for passenger vehicle drivers.
  • Ensure motorcyclists are properly licensed.In 2013, 25 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes did not have a valid motorcycle license, compared to 13 percent of passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes.
  • Encourage all drivers to share the road with motorcyclists.According to NHTSA, when motorcycles crash with other vehicles, the other driver is often at fault. Many states conduct “share the road” campaigns to increase awareness of motorcyclists.

Bill to repeal Tennessee helmet law defeated

A Tennessee senate committee voted down a bill on March 26 that would have repealed the state’s helmet law for adults 21 and older.  The bill had been opposed by The Automobile Association of America who said that it would lead to more highway deaths. A survey conducted by AAA in October found 91 percent of Tennesseans were in favor of the current helmet law. The following is a link to some interesting helmet use statistics published by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:  http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/motorcycles/fatalityfacts/motorcycles

NHTSA: Motorcycle injury & fatality rates drop in 2013

According to a report issued in mid-December by NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities dropped 6.4 percent in 2013.  “This was the first decrease in motorcyclist fatalities since 2009 [and] the only other decrease since 1997,” NHTSA reported.  More than half of the decline was attributed to a drop in older rider fatalities. Additionally, the injury rates associated with motorcycle accidents also dropped 5.4 percent from 2012. Alcohol-impaired fatalities dropped as well. “Motorcycle riders showed the greatest decrease in the number of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal crashes from 2012 to 2013, dropping 8.3 percent or by 117 riders. This was both the greatest percentage drop and the greatest drop in actual alcohol-impaired drivers,” NHTSA said. Some of the interesting points from the report include:
  • There were 190 fewer fatalities in the 50-to-69-year age group in 2013 than there were in 2012, NHTSA noted.
  • There were 4,668 motorcycle fatalities in 2013 vs. 4,986 in 2012 and 4,630 fatalities in 2011.
  • Motorcycle-related deaths accounted for 14.3 percent of all traffic deaths in 2013, down from 14.8 percent in 2012.
One of the most interesting statistics in the report shows that states without universal helmet laws reported 11 times as many unhelmeted motorcyclist fatalities than states with such laws: 1,704 vs. 150, respectively.

Monster makes Ducati cross million motorcycle mark

A Ducati Monster 1200 S was the one-millionth Ducati to come off the Borgo Panigale assembly line and was presented to a Milan buyer by Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding.  Domenicali presented the motorcycle, which contained a special laser serigraph on the handlebar bracket identifying it as the millionth bike, to Ernesto Passoni, 47, of Cincsello Balsamo at the Audi City Lab in Milan.  Passoni had placed the order with a local dealer and was told that it would be the milestone bike. “Between 1946 and today we have designed, built and delivered one million dreams that have become reality to Ducati,” Domenicali said. “Our strength is in the exceptional work that all of the Ducati employees carry out so efficiently on a daily basis, contributing to making our bikes beautiful, unique and desirable. To deliver the millionth bike produced directly into the hands of a passionate Ducatista is an incredible feeling and an incentive to continue along our growth path.”

New invention flashes motorcycle brake lights

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.