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.

Harley-Davidson recalls 19,000 Dyna & Softail models

Harley-Davidson announced that it is recalling just over 19,000 Dyna and Softail motorcycles from the 2012 model year because the threads for the brake line banjo bolt in the front brake master cylinder may corrode.  If the threads corrode, a sudden loss of brake fluid could result, causing a loss of the front brakes.  Dealers are asked to flush and inspect the front brake master cylinder and, if necessary, replace the master cylinder. NHTSA recall campaign number is 14V794000 and is expected to begin Jan. 14. Models affected are the 2012 FXST103, FLSTC, FLSTC103, FLSTF, FLSTF103, FXDL, FXDWG, FXDWG103, FXDC, FXDB, FLSTN, FLSTN103, FLSTC103 Shrine, FLSTFB, FLSTFB103, FXS, FXS103, FLS, FLS103, FLD, FLD103, and FXDF and FXDF103 motorcycles manufactured from Aug. 22, 2011, through Feb. 24, 2012, for the United States and some world markets. This totals 19,015 units, Harley-Davidson told NHTSA. “We have voluntarily declared this a defect related to motor vehicle safety (Campaign 0163 for the Softail model and Dyna model motorcycles and 0164 for the FXDF/FXDF103 model motorcycles) to allow us to formally recall all affected motorcycles. Two recalls are needed to cover all affected models because of the differences in the kit component content required for the two populations,” the Motor Co. informed dealers.  “Based on warranty information, the prediction for motorcycles requiring master cylinder replacements is extremely low,” Harley-Davidson said in its notification to dealers.  Dealers are permitted to sell but must not deliver any of the affected motorcycles until the remedy is complete, the OEM added.

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.

IIHS Announces Best Used Cars for Teen Drivers

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:
  1. Young drivers should stay away from high horsepower. Vehicles with more powerful engines can tempt them to test the limits.
  2. Bigger, heavier vehicles protect better in a crash. There are no minicars or small cars on the recommended list.
  3. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is a must. This feature, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on curves and slippery roads
  4. 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 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

CPSC Proposes Stability Standards for UTV / ROV / SxS-vehicles

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:
  • 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.
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 Demonstrates Vehicle-To-Pedestrian Safety Technology

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.

Bosch Releases Software Update14.1.1

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
  • 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
 Ford / Lincoln
  • 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
Nissan / Infiniti
  • Added support for MY2015 Nissan Titan and Infiniti Q50 vehicles
  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.

How Does Motorcycle Accident Reconstruction Work?

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.