Improved Motorcycle Safety The Goal of 2018 NTSB Study
Denial is not just a river in Egypt. If you ride a motorcycle you need to ignore certain facts, one of the most important being that it can kill you. In many cases, motorcycle riders need to ride better, but in more cases, drivers need to drive better. When you’re this exposed being invisible hurts.
The National Transportation Safety Board isn’t candy-coating the truth. In its latest Safety Report, Select Risk Factors Associated with Causes of Motorcycle Crashes, the NTSB lays it bare with statistics.
“Motorcyclists—motorcycle riders and their passengers—have the highest risk of fatal injury among all motor vehicle users. In 2016, 5,286 motorcyclists died in traffic crashes in the United States (NCSA 2018). Per mile traveled, motorcyclist fatalities occurred nearly 28 times more frequently than passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in traffic crashes (NCSA 2018).”
The study, meant to “identify and assess factors contributing to motorcycle crash risk, compare those factors with previous research findings and evaluate the need for motorcycle safety improvements,” aims to “improve detection of motorcycles in traffic and give motorcycle riders more time to react to dangerous conditions.” It is also targeting existing rider-assist technology so that motor vehicles will be “better able to detect and anticipate the presence of a motorcycle when entering or crossing a road, making a turn or changing lanes.”
Using the data from the 2016 Motorcycle Crash Causation Study (MCCS) done by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the NTSB came up with 10 suggestions which it distributes among the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Federal Highway AAdministration, Motorcycle Industry Council, American Motorcyclist Association and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. For policymakers, many of the recommendations included the request to “incorporate motorcycles in the development of performance standards for connected vehicle-to-infrastructure systems.” The last three, organizations that represent and engage with motorcycle riders, were advised to communicate the findings of their report and “promote the safety benefits of advanced motorcycle antilock braking and stability control technologies. “
Although this study does not extend to the results of drug and alcohol use, the greatest danger to motorcycles still continues to be caused by collisions between “Other Motor Vehicles” (OVs) and “Motorcycles” (MCs), especially in left turns. Not sure what safety assists or recommendations could be made for that, unless “keep eyes open while driving or riding” or "don't be stupid" are permissible?
However, as drivers become increasingly dependent on the eyes and ears of technological advancement, it’s certainly encouraging to know that motorcyclists will be included in the list of “things to watch out for and not hit.”