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Anti-Lock Brakes and Motorcycle Safety
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Anti-Lock Brakes and Motorcycle Safety

The statistics of deaths on the US roads were dropping steadily for a long time in the past. However, recent data confirms that the trend is shifting and traffic deaths are on the rise. The most alarming are numbers of fatal injuries of motorcyclists who are the least safe people on the road.

Possible Life-Saver

There has been a hope that Anti-lock brake system, known as ABS, which became a standard in the cars and other passenger vehicles during the 1990s would also become a part of motorcycles. The system helps a driver to remain in control of the vehicle during intensive braking and improves its the stability on the slippery road. The use of ABS in motorcycles slowly becomes a standard in law enforcement institutions as major police forces - California Highway Patrol and NYPD made the ABS a necessary feature of their bikes. The researchers in their study of 2013 confirmed that the motorcycle with ABS is 31 percent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Other studies have agreed with these findings with the conclusion that the law demanding a compulsory use of ABS on bikes would reduce the death toll on the roads for about 1,500 people per year. The European Union reacted quickly and the most recent medium and high-performance bikes must be equipped with ABS since January 2016.

The Slowly Taken Steps

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the US federal regulator is, however, taking only slow steps in the way of adapting ABS to the motorcycles. The agency is criticized for its ambiguous stance since it declares that there isn't enough evidence to support the claim that ABS could help. In the contrary to the other findings, NHTSA in its latest study contended that it doesn't have any plans to attempt a creation of the new federal law which would require ABS. The own researches of the regulator didn´t provide any data which would confirm or deny the effect of ABS on the safety of the rider.

The Company's Reaction

Although the federal government and its regulators don't make any steps to improve the conditions for the most exposed people on the roads, the companies have taken the initiative to their hands. BMW has made ABS a standard feature of every bike sold in the USA since 2012 and Harley-Davidson started to offer the ABS on police motorcycles in 2005 and optionally for civil bikes in 2008.

According to the statistics, the number of motorcycles with ABS in the USA oscillates only about 15% of 7 million which means that more than 6 million of bikes are without the safety system.

Opposition to ABS

Rider groups are the most hearable critiques of ABS in the bikes. They recognize the benefits of the system for the safety of the rider but also pledge for the freedom of choice. It is also a reason why Harley-Davidson, the most popular brand among the biker groups, didn’t make ABS part of the necessary equipment. It was also an object of lawsuits with the most famous being led against Harley which was sued for not maintaining ABS in its bikes as a standard feature. The company, however, won the clash.

It is not possible to expect changes in the situation in the following years since the new anti-regulation US government won´t take any steps to make ABS in motorcycles compulsory.

Image credit: rideapart.com

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