Making Motorcyclists more Conspicuous

One of the findings in previous studies regarding motorcycle accidents and motor vehicles was that motorcycles in some cases just aren’t conspicuous enough. Changes in motorcycles in an attempt to make them more conspicuous weren’t as successful as the researchers proposed. They indicated that there needed to be more contrast between the motorcycle and the environment. The following research study had related ideas.

The research study looked at variables that might contribute to the conspicuousness of motorcycles in a simulated environment. They looked at motorcycle lighting, the age of the driver, and the use of vehicular daytime running lights.

Current research indicates that low levels of conspicuousness seen with those riding two wheeled vehicles on the road reduce the ability of automobile drivers to see and respond in a safe manner toward the motorcycle. It is this lack of conspicuousness that seems to be responsible for the frequency of accidents, frequent injuries and fatalities on the part of the motorcyclist.

A total of seventy-five participants watched a number of video segments of traffic on the roadway and were asked to say when they saw a particular hazard, such as a pedestrian, traffic cone or motorcyclist. Both the motorcycle appearance and the following vehicle lights were manipulated and participant reaction times were looked at and analyzed to see which things altered the reaction time.

The study indicated the major effects for all variables in the artificial situation. There appeared to be a real link between daytime running lights and the effective detection of the motorcycles in the video clip. There were also age-related differences in who detected the motorcycle and who didn’t. These findings were corroborative to other related studies but they indicated that more studies need to be done in high-density traffic situations or in bad environmental conditions. They indicated that there could be applications to this research that can improve the ability of people to see motorcycles on the road and to avoid accidents and injuries related to motorcycle accidents.

Motorcycle accidents with automobiles tend not to go well for the motorcycle riders. Motorcycle riders are 35 times more likely to have a fatal motor vehicle accident when compared to those riding in passenger cars. For example, in 2006, 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in roads on the highway; about 4810 motorcyclists were killed in road accidents in the same year. Head injury is the leading cause of death among motorcyclists. Those not wearing a helmet are 40% more likely to die from an injury to the head than those who wear a helmet. There were 7 million motorcycles registered in the United States in 2007 with a fatality rate of 73 people dying per 100,000 registered motorcycles. With cars, the vehicle fatality rate was 14 per 100,000 during the same year.

The rate of death from motorcycles is increasing out of proportion to the numbers of vehicles being owned by the population. In 2005, for example, there was a 63 percent increase in motorcycle ownership when compared to 1997 and yet fatalities due to accidents more than doubled.