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IIHS Pushes for Mandatory ABS on New Motorcycles

Federal Safety Agency Recommends ABS

Data continues to pile up, suggesting there is a need to federally mandate antilock braking systems (ABS) on all street-legal motorcycles

Research Results

Researchers looked at the fatal crash rates for 65 models of motorcycles from 2013 through 2019. They found that bikes that were equipped with the ABS were involved in 22% fewer deadly crashes overall than those that did not have the feature. Earlier studies showed an even larger effect, but that may have been because the studies from 2011 to 2013 included fewer types of motorcycles. The more recent study included many sportbikes, which do not show as great a benefit from the feature as other types, perhaps because sportbike riders may have a tendency to ride aggressively and at faster speeds. 

In any event, 22% is a large effect, states a statistical director with the Insurance Institute of Highway (IIHS). He ranked the importance of the inclusion of ABS right up there with helmet use in terms of life-saving benefits. The statistician went on to remark that the fact that ABS saves lives and should be mandatory equipment has been known for a decade. The recent study was designed to support and confirm that knowledge. 

What Does ABS Do?

ABS was first developed for use on airplanes. The systems sense when hard braking could send a vehicle skidding. At that point, it rapidly releases and applies the brakes in order to stop the vehicle in as short of a distance as possible while at the same time keeping the operator in control of the vehicle. 

There is Already a Mandate for Other Types of Vehicles

A federal mandate for the inclusion of ABS on large trucks has been in effect since 1997. The systems effectively became standard on all passenger vehicles when a 2012 mandate required electronic stability control, part of which is ABS.

How the Technology Could Help Motorcyclists

ABS technology could benefit motorcyclists in that it could prevent sliding and fishtailing that may cause a rider to lose control.  Riders can learn to handle such challenges, but given the adrenaline surge caused by an impending crash, remembering how to handle those conditions can be difficult. Riders may also be wary of skidding and purposely avoid hard braking – this could result in the rider being unable to avoid a collision.

Watch the YouTube video. The clip below, uploaded by MCRider, explains the benefits of ABS for motorcycles.

Moves Toward Mandating Motorcycle ABS

Evidence is piling up proving that ABS could help prevent motorcycle crashes. As such, other countries have required that certain on-road motorcycles be equipped with ABS. IIHS and its affiliate, the Highway Loss Data Institute, submitted a formal petition to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2013 requesting an ABS requirement for motorcycles. A mandate has not yet happened, but the feature is becoming more common. On over half of all 2020 model year motorcycles, ABS is a standard feature. It is an optional feature for another quarter.

Certain Motorcycles Benefit More from ABS

The new study found that certain types of motorcycles were associated with a greater benefit from the feature. There was a 32% reduction in crash rates for cruiser and standard bike types compared to a 25% reduction for touring and sport-touring motorcycles. With sport bikes, the benefit fell to 19%, and for Supersports, it dropped to 12%.

Galt Personal Injury Lawyer

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