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NTSB Recommends Anti-Lock Brakes as Standard Feature on All New Motorcycles in the U.S.


Anti-lock brakes (ABS) are a standard feature on passenger vehicles, and have been for several decades. While the technology has existed just as long for motorcycles, it hasn’t been as common for motorcycles, and is usually an added feature that costs consumers more. That may soon change if federal regulators follow through with a recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board.

In September 2018, the NTSB voted unanimously to send its recommendation to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requiring anti-lock brakes on all new motorcycles sold in the United States. That recommendation stems from studies demonstrating that anti-lock brakes could reduce fatalities in motorcycle accidents by over 30%. Motorcyclists need bikes better equipped to perform more favorably in potential collision-critical situations.

ABS & Motorcycles

Anti-lock brakes work by preventing wheels from locking up when brakes are applied. They can prevent skidding, allow vehicles to keep traction and contact with the road, and help drivers and riders better control steering and stability. Although ABS has been a required feature in all new U.S. passenger vehicles since 2000, it is not currently required for motorcycles.

Data from NTSB researchers found that in 2017, less than 9% of U.S. motorcycles had ABS as a standard feature, and only 13% had them as an optional feature. Those low numbers are often due to costs associated with ABS on motorcycles, and slimmer profit margins enjoyed by motorcycle manufacturers as compared to automakers.

NTSB, NHTSA & Vehicle Safety Regulations

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent government agency that investigates accidents involving civil transportation. While much of the NTSB’s work notably involves investigating major transportation accidents, including airline and train accidents and commercial bus or truck accidents involving numerous injuries and deaths, the agency is also involved in researching safety risks, and making recommendations to other federal agencies, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTHSA), with the authority to pass and enforce regulations.

The NTSB also publishes an annual “Most Wanted List” that features potential safety improvements that address the most pressing problems and / or which are likely to have the largest impact. For example, the NTSB’s latest Most Wanted List included recommendations for:

Unfortunately, as is often the case with the trucking industry, not all recommendations are heeded by agencies with the power to take action. Though there are many reasons behind this, safety experts point to bureaucratic slowdowns and corporate lobbyist efforts as two significant barriers to passing needed safety improvements. Experts are hopeful that will not be the case when it comes to NHTSA’s handling of the recommendation for anti-lock brakes on motorcycles, especially given the fact that:

  • Motorcyclists are more like to suffer catastrophic injuries or die in accidents than occupants in passenger vehicles.
  • Not all states in the U.S. require motorcycle riders to wear helmets, which substantially decrease risks of brain injuries, serious disabilities, and fatal injuries in crashes. In Utah, for example, helmet laws cover only riders 20 years of age or younger.
  • Motorcycle riders must often react to emergencies and potential collisions in a short amount of time, making certain technologies like ABS all the more important.
  • In 2016, close to 5,300 motorcycle riders were killed on U.S. roadways.

Statistics like these stress the importance of taking all available precautions to protect motorcycle riders and reduce their risks on public roads.

Even the most experienced, vigilant, and safety-conscious motorcyclists can still suffer serious injuries in crashes when others around them are negligent. Injured riders and their families often face many challenges and are left with extensive damages following motorcycle accidents, protecting one’s right to full compensation following a crash is of crucial importance. It is why our legal team is committed to helping victims injured by others, and families who lose loved ones in traffic crashes, protect their rights when pursuing personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits arising from motorcycle wrecks. Because

If you have questions about your rights after a motorcycle accident or any other preventable motor vehicle collision in Salt Lake City or the surrounding areas of Utah, our firm is here to help. Contact us to speak personally with an attorney during a free and confidential case evaluation.

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