The National Transportation Safety Board is working to promote the required addition of anti-lock brakes in the building process of motorcycles in the U.S. On Sept. 11, their vote to voice this recommendation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration passed with a vote of 5-0. The NTSB does not have the right to create laws, so it is aiming to persuade the NHTSA, an organization responsible for introducing and enforcing rulings.
These types of brakes can improve motorcyclists' reaction times and abilities to maintain control over bikes. Motorcycles brakes are separate for the front and rear wheels, which may result in locked wheels during hard brakes. Locked wheels may cause the bike to flip, causing injuries to even helmet-clad motorcyclists. When bikers do not brake hard enough, they may risk a collision, which can be even more hazardous than a rollover.
Anti-lock brake systems allow motorcyclists to brake without locking the wheels. ABS technology reduces pressure on the brakes that might otherwise cause them to lock up, then increases the pressure when the wheels get more grip. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that motorcycles furnished with anti-lock brakes have a 31 percent lower crash rate than bikes without this feature.
Past ABS legislation
The European Union Parliament mandated anti-lock braking systems as standard equipment in motorcycles built in 2016 and beyond. This regulation passed as a result of high casualty rates of motorcyclists on European roads.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reported that 8.9 percent of registered motorcycles were required to have anti-lock brake systems in 2017. This number has increased steadily since 2002, when anti-lock brake technology was considered a standard form of equipment on only 0.2 percent of motorcycles.
NHTSA typically uses facts and statistics when deciding whether or not to take action. That said, several national organizations, including the NHTSA and NTSB, have compiled data that suggest that motorcycles are more likely than cars to severely injure or kill passengers.
- Government Accounting Office estimation on costs resulting from motorcycle crashes were close to $16 billion in 2010, the most recent reported year.
- The U.S. Department of Transportation cited an alarming 2015 statistic comparing motorcycle crashes to car and truck collisions. For every 100,000 registered cars and trucks, there were 9.48 and 7.70 deaths respectively, but 57.85 fatalities for the same number of registered motorcycles on the road.
- NTSB data revealed that motorcycles represented 14 percent of traffic fatalities in 2016 while accounting for less than one percent of total traveled vehicle miles.
- The NHTSA reported an alarming 5,286 motorcyclist fatalities in 2016.
The NHTSA mandated the use of anti-lock brakes in passenger vehicles in 2000 after citing the fatality rates of cars that lacked this feature, but has not commented on its exact stance regarding the use of ABS technologies in motorcycles yet. NTSB officials do not know if the NHTSA will follow Europe's example or keep motorcycle manufacturing regulations as is, but only time will tell.
Whether or not the NHTSA passes a law requiring ABS technology in motorcycle construction, brake testing is a crucial step in helping prepare motorcycles for mass production. Request a complimentary brake testing consultation from Greening to see how your manufacturing processes can improve.