The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety finds that motorcycles equipped with antilock brakes save lives.
Antilock brakes are found on cars and trucks. They are found on touring bikes and a limited number of motorcycles at a cost of about $1,000.
Without them, riders who need to stop their bikes abruptly can lock up the wheels or fishtail. The Insurance Institute found that equipping motorcycles with them resulted in a 38 percent lower crash rate.
The Institute studied eight motorcycles with antilock brakes and found there were 6.6 fatal crashes per 10,000 registered motorcycles without antilock brakes in 2005 and 2006. The bikes with antilocks had a 4.1 per 10,000 fatal crash rate.
A second study found antilock brakes reduced collision claims by 21 percent.
"Even though adding antilocks won't make motorcycling as safe as going by car, it's something manufacturers can do to reduce the risk of traveling on two wheels instead of four," said Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
The causes of most motorcycle crashes still need study, everyone agrees.
"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," says Rob Dingman, president and CEO of the American Motorcyclist Association.
Nationally, more than 5,000 riding motorcycles died last year. A decade ago that number was 2,294. Motorcycle registrations have nearly doubled during that time.
The effectiveness of antilock brakes might also be impacted by the skill level of a rider and the type of roads they cover. Riders say a person with more experience might be able to stop a bike faster without ABS because of their skill set. It all depends on the situation and the rider.
While antilock brakes appear to reduce collision claims, say insurers, they do not affect the severity of the crashes for which claims are filed. #