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Are Motorcycles Safer With Antilock Brakes?

Tue, 30 Dec 2008

A new report says riders with ABS-equipped bikes can dramatically reduce the chance of a fatal accident. The study compared fatality rates among riders on bikes that have antilock brakes, and it found that death rates were 38% lower on motorcycles equipped with the optional ABS systems compared to non-ABS bikes.

In 2005-2006, the fatal crashes per 10,000 registered motorcycles without antilock brakes was 6.6. On bikes with ABS, the number dropped to 4.1, a 38% improvement. In another study of 72,000 insured years of 2003-2007 model-year Honda, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha bikes, insurance losses were 21% lower with antilocks than non-ABS models.

Its important here to note these studies were funded by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, an organization that typically has little respect for the positive attributes of bikes.

Safety-crats like the IIHS would prefer to not have any motorcycles on the road, instead putting us all in identical foam cars. They point to a 55% increase in motorcycling fatalities from 1998 to 2007. But its important to note that motorcycle registrations have exceeded 6 million compared to 3.8 million in 1998, an increase of 37%. Plus, vehicle miles ridden have increased by more than 20%.

Rob Dingman, president and CEO of the American Motorcyclist Association, allows that the study might show the potential of antilock brakes, but this report generates more questions than answers he says a federal study of the causes of motorcycle crashes is long-overdue. Our members would welcome an ABS option on more models, but there must be a broader strategy to reduce motorcycle accidents and fatalities that includes increased education and motorist awareness, Dingman said.


By Kevin Duke

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