Report: Antilock Brakes Help Motorcyclists Avoid Fatal Crashes

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Two new studies indicate crash reductions associated with anti-lock brakes.

The studies found Insurance losses are “21 percent lower, and fatal crash rates are reduced 38 percent for motorcycles with antilock brakes compared to those without”.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “The importance of equipping bikes with antilocks increases as motorcycling proliferates. Motorcycle sales more than tripled from 1997 to 2005. Deaths of motorcyclists have more than doubled since 1997, with some kinds of bikes having much higher death rates than others (see Status Report, Sept. 11, 2007; on the web at About 5,000 motorcyclists died in crashes last year.

The new study of fatal motorcycle crashes was conducted by Institute researchers,
while the analysis of insurance claims is by researchers at the affiliated Highway Loss
Data Institute (HLDI). Adrian Lund is president of both organizations”.

“Even though adding antilocks won’t make motorcycling as safe as going by car, it’s something manufacturers can do to reduce the risk of traveling on 2 wheels instead of 4,” Lund says. “It’s a way to reduce the chances of overturning a bike and crashing, so it can save lives among people who choose motorcycles for their basic transportation, to save on gasoline, or just for fun.”

When antilocks are needed: Stopping a motorcycle is trickier than stopping a car. For one thing, front and rear wheels typically have separate brake controls. Both under braking and over braking the front and rear wheels contribute to crashes (see Status Report, June 21, 1979). In an emergency, a rider faces a split-second choice to brake hard, which can lock the wheels and cause a motorcycle to overturn, or to hold back on the brakes and risk running headlong into the emergency. This is when antilocks can help. They reduce brake pressure when they detect impending lockup and about to be struck from behind, for example. But the new studies indicate that antilocks reduce crashes overall and save lives.

Crash reduction benefit: The HLDI study compares insurance losses under collision coverage for 12 motorcycle models with optional antilock brakes versus the same models without this option. The researchers evaluated the effects of antilock brakes on both the frequency of insurance claims that are filed for crash damage and the average cost of the damage, after accounting for rider age and gender, motorcycle age, and other factors that influence the likelihood of a crash”.

Visit the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety website to read full article.


HLDI bulletin (PDF): Motorcycle Antilock Braking System (ABS)

Research paper (PDF): Effectiveness of antilock braking systems in reducing fatal motorcycle crashes

1 comment:

  1. Sam Magnussen, 20. May 2009, 21:44

    Are there any statistics for Three wheeled motorcycles with and wothout ABS brakes?
    I have this nagging suspicion that ABS are safer for those, too.