The West Virginia Department of Transportation reports motorcyclists are more likely to die in a motorcycle crash when compared to other motorists. Motorcyclists are also four times more likely to suffer injuries during an accident. Equipping motorcycles with anti-lock braking systems (ABS) may help reduce accidents and fatalities among motorcyclists.
Motorcycle accident injuries are often severe. Motorcyclists don’t have the same level of protection provided by most other motor vehicles. There’s no barrier between the motorcyclist and the road.
Motorcyclists are also less likely to have ABS-equipped motorcycles. In 2004, ABS became mandatory on all vehicles manufactured and sold in the United States. ABS allows drivers to steer during emergencies by restoring traction to the tires.
Concerns for motorcycle safety
ABS isn’t a requirement for motorcycles in the United States. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) are asking the federal government to remedy this situation by requiring ABS on all new motorcycles.
Some motorcycle manufacturers have started to equip their motorcycles with ABS. However, it’s a matter of choice and not required by law. About 59% of new motorcycles are equipped with ABS, as of 2023. The IIHS and the HLDI want to make that number 100%.
The benefits of ABS
There’s evidence that motorcycles with ABS are safer than those without it. The IIHS did a study that found motorcycles with ABS have 22% lower accident rates when compared to the same models of motorcycles without ABS. Research also shows that motorcycles with ABS account for fewer insurance claims than motorcycles without ABS.
There’s concern that ABS could make motorcycles less efficient on some surfaces, such as gravel. A possible solution is for motorcycles to have a switch that turns ABS on and off. The rider can turn ABS off on gravel and loose surfaces but turn it back on when on a paved road.
ABS might make motorcycles safer, but accidents will still occur. The hope is that if all motorcycles have ABS, it will result in fewer accidents and more saved lives.