Fewer Alabama Motorcycle Injuries Possible With Anti-lock Brake Systems

Jun 21, 2013 - Motorcycle Accidents by

Earlier this month on Highway 119 in Birmingham, three people died tragically in a crash involving two motorcycles and a truck, according to Jefferson County investigators.
Our Birmingham motorcycle accident lawyers understand that two motorcycle passengers, a man and a woman in their 40s, as well as the 19-year-old driver of the truck, were pronounced dead at the scene. The truck driver reportedly lost control of his vehicle for unknown reasons, sliding into one of the motorcycles, causing both vehicles to go airborne over a guardrail and into a ditch. A second motorcyclist was forced to swerve and lay down his bicycle to avoid the crash, causing both himself and his passenger to suffer head injuries.

While all of the details in this case are still under investigation, it would be interesting to find out whether the second motorcycle was equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), in light of a new study by the Highway Loss Data Institute. The research shows that motorcycles that have ABS are about 30 percent less likely to be involved in fatal crashes, as compared to those motorcycles that aren’t equipped with ABS.

What’s more, there is a 20 percent reduction in the rate of crash claims when motorcycles are equipped with ABS and also a nearly 30 percent reduction in the number of rider injury claims with ABS motorcycles.

The ABS system’s impact was even more pronounced when it was found present in vehicles with combined braking systems (CBS). These are systems that integrate the motorcycle’s rear and front braking controls. When these two systems are used together, the crash rate drops by more than one-third.

It’s been known for some time that ABS is advantageous to motorcycle riders, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has urged federal traffic officials to require ABS to be mandatory on all newly-manufactured motorcycles. Now, with even more evidence of the benefits in hand, both the insurance institute and the highway loss data institute are formally petitioning the government for a change. Specifically, the two think tanks are putting pressure on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The U.S. is actually slow to jump on board with such requirements. The European Union is already requiring that all motorcycles with engine displacements of 125 cc or more be equipped with ABS as of January 2016.

The reason that ABS is so effective has to do with the ability to prevent a potentially deadly fall. In a regular motor vehicle, when wheels lock, it could mean a minor skid. However, for someone on a two-wheeled vehicle, those locked wheels could cause the rider to lose balance.

With an ABS, the system will prevent a lock-up by instead automatically reducing the brake pressure if it senses that the wheel may stop rotating. The pressure will again increase after traction is restored. This also gives the rider confidence that he or she can brake fully without having to worry about their wheels seizing up.

The recent study controlled for factors such as vehicle age, make, model and rider age and gender.

Riders can’t control the careless or negligent actions of other drivers. But giving them the tools to safely and effectively respond to those hazards can result in a dramatic reduction of motorcycle injuries and fatalities.

Additional Resources:

New research adds to the evidence that motorcycle ABS prevents crashes, May 30, 2013, Status Report News Letter, Vol. 48, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety-Highway Loss Data Institute

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