Over the past few years, motorcycle riding has become increasingly popular. The Motorcycle Industry Council estimated the percentage of U.S. households that has at least one motorcycle has risen to 6.8% in 2008, increasing from 5.4% in 2003. The Federal Highway Administration has also gathered from their most recent data that there were approximately 8 million motorcycles on the road in 2009, compared to 134.9 million passenger vehicles.
With the heightened popularity comes heightened risks of injuries resulting from motorcycle collisions. The Insurance Information Institute posted this article to bring safety awareness to motorcycle drivers as well as the motor vehicle drivers that share the road with them.
TRAINING COURSES The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is sponsored by motorcycle manufacturers and distributors and uses education, training and licensing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to improve motorcycle safety. They promote safety by recommending protective gear, riding while sober and within skill limits to motorcycle operators. The MSF also works with state governments to integrate rider safety and skills in licensing tests. Connecticut and Tennessee mandated insurance discounts for riders who have completed motorcycle training classes.
ANTILOCK BRAKING SYSTEMS The braking system of a motorcycle is different and more complex than that of a motor vehicle. Motorcycles have two separate brakes, one for the front and one for the rear wheel. If the rider brakes too hard, the brakes can lock up and cause the bike to overturn. A motorcycle with antilock brakes will automatically reduce brake pressure right before a lockup is about to occur, then will increase it after traction has been restored. Motorcycles with ABS are 37% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash than motorcycles without ABS, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (in March 2010). The Highway Loss Data Institute also found that motorcycles with ABS have 22% fewer claims for damage per insured year than the same model motorcycles without ABS.
AIRBAGS In 2006, Honda was the first company to offer an airbag option on one of their motorcycles. There are also a few companies that have developed wearable airbags that are worn inside the rider's jacket or strapped to the outside. There has yet to be published data on the airbag's effectiveness.
MOTORCYCLE HELMETS 1,483 lives were saved by helmets in 2009. 732 more lives would have been saved if helmets had been worn, says the NHSTA. It is estimated that for the motorcycle operators, helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries, and 41% effective for passengers.