Most motorcycle enthusiasts will tell you that motorcycle safety is all about the nut that connects the saddle to the handlebars. Being a good driver, using common sense on the road, and wearing a helmet and the right safety gear (ATGATT) are the best ways to prevent accident injuries. That being said, no one wants to be injured in a motorcycle crash. So, if there are innovative new ways to keep motorcyclists safe, we’re definitely interested.
Even skilled riders can’t control the vehicles in front of them, and locking up your brakes on a bike usually means a serious fall. Anti-lock Braking Systems, or ABS, automatically reduce brake pressure to prevent lockups, and increasing it to come to a stop once traction is regained.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, collision insurance claims are 20 percent lower on motorcycles that have ABS. When the bike has combined controls (CBS), claims are reduced by 31 percent. ABS also reduces the rate of fatal crashes by 31 percent, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute.
Once you drive a motorcycle with ABS, you’ll wonder why all bikes don’t have it as a standard feature. The European Union, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, and India now require ABS on new motorcycles with an output greater than 125cc. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) recommends that the U.S. Department of Transportation adopt the same requirement.
You can find motorcycles with airbags installed in the dash, but they only protect against head-on collisions. But if you wanted to be surrounded by a cage, you’d drive one.
The latest airbag technology for motorcycle riders is in the gear. You can now purchase suits, jackets and vests with airbags to protect the neck, shoulders, back, kidney and chest areas. Some airbag gear attaches to the bike with a lanyard, and when the tether becomes detached with significant force, the airbags inflate. Other types of airbag gear use sensors to detect crash conditions.
On a bike with a normal headlight, when you’re cornering at night, the light points straight ahead – which doesn’t help you see what you’re driving into. Adaptive headlights automatically adjust as the rider leans into a turn, and banks the light to show you what’s around the bend.
BMW and KTM offers models with adaptive headlights. Now, you can also buy them as aftermarket parts. If you regularly ride at night, they may be worth the investment.
Electronic Tire Pressure Monitors
Low tire pressure makes your bike harder to handle and increases your accident risk. Seasoned riders know to check their tire pressure often, especially before long rides. Newer bikes are equipped with electronic Tire Pressure Monitor Systems (TRMS), and there are good, reasonably priced aftermarket wireless TPMS that alert you when you need to get some air in those skins.
Automatic Clutch and Shift
It used to be that learning to use a clutch and shift gears was a challenge you had to face if you wanted to ride a motorcycle. But Honda has come out with several bike models with dual clutch transmission. With DCT, the bike’s onboard computer does the shifting for you. Not only does this make it easier for new riders, it also offers a smoother shift, better stability, and more miles per gallon.
Motorcycle Stability Control
Bosch’s Motorcycle Stability Control system takes ABS to another level. By monitoring factors like wheel rotation speed and differential, torque, and lean angle, this system can instantaneously adjust braking and acceleration for traction control, rear-wheel lift control, wheelie control, and cornering control. It prevents bikes from low-siding or pushing wide on corners. KTM, BMW Ducati and Zero are just a few of the makers offering MSC.
LiveMap’s prototype augmented reality (AR) display motorcycle helmet projects a virtual image 20 meters ahead, allowing riders to see navigation and driving directions while keeping their eyes on the road. It also features customizable alerts, phone calls, a built-in camera, and audio and voice controls. BMW and Skully are reported to have similar helmets in development.
Adaptive cruise control
Staying a safe distance behind other vehicles in heavy traffic is a challenge for riders. Without constant attention, the result could be a nasty rear-end collision. Adaptive cruise control (ACC) will make that much easier by adjusting the bike’s speed to traffic conditions and maintaining a safe following distance, and prevent rear-end crashes.
This system would work similarly to those in newer automobiles. This system uses radar sensors to maintain a lookout in all directions, registering objects in the driver’s blind spots. If the rider attempts an unsafe lane change, the technology alerts them with a visual warning light in their rear-view mirror.
Motorcycle Safety In the Future
Now under development, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology uses a short-range radio network that allows motor vehicles to wirelessly exchange data on their speed, direction, and location. This technology would make other vehicles more aware of a motorcycle’s presence and location on the road, reducing collision risks.
Bosch is designing another innovative system that allows motorcyclists to right their bike when it begins to slip sideways on oil, gravel, or wet leaves. When a sensor detects a certain value of sideways slippage, it releases stored gas from accumulators like those in passenger-car airbags. The gas would go into a tank adapter that will force it out through a directional nozzle to create enough reverse thrust to keep the motorcycle on track.
Emergency Call System
Many passenger vehicles in the United States now come equipped with emergency call systems to automatically alerts a call system if a car crash is detected. In Europe, all passenger vehicles are required to have an emergency call system, or eCall. eCall is also available on some BMW models in Europe, although it isn’t mandatory – yet. And there’s no word on when similar systems will be made available for motorcycles in the United States, but it’s only a matter of time.
In the meantime, motorcyclists can download the BikerSOS app on their phones to record trips, recognize accidents and send automatic emergency calls should a crash occur.
The motorcycle accident injury attorneys at TorkLaw want you to stay safe on the road, so please check out the latest motorcycle safety features and products designed to do just that, and follow our blog to stay up to date on motorcycle news and info.
Of course, even the safest bike and rider can still be injured in a motorcycle accident. If that happens to you, or to someone you care about, contact TorkLaw today – we will help take care of everything you need to recover, and ensure that you are fully compensated for your losses and damages. Your consultation is free, and you don’t pay if we don’t win your case.