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Anti-lock brakes on motorcycles might prevent PA crashes

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) – the agency best known for investigating mass casualty accidents involving buses, trains and airplanes – recently voted to have anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control included as standard features on motorcycles. These features are common on other vehicles, and have been for years, but haven’t yet made their way onto motorcycles.

The unanimous NTSB vote, held on September 11 as part of a public hearing, doesn’t actually mean that these features will be on motorcycles in the near future, however. The NTSB doesn’t have the authority to pass regulations on the topic, so the vote is the equivalent of a recommendation to the governing body, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA will need to take the NTSB’s vote on anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control under advisement, and may undertake rulemaking procedures based on the NTSB recommendation.

What was the vote based on?

The NTSB cited data compiled by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which showed that anti-lock brakes could lower motorcycle accident rates 31 percent. Given the fact that about 5,300 motorcyclists are killed annually, this means that about 1,600 lives could potentially be saved by adding this as a standard feature. Only about 9 percent of motorcycles sold in America currently have anti-lock brakes as a standard feature, and about 13.3 percent of others have them available as an option.

Electronic stability control systems will also surely decrease accident rates, but definitive studies aren’t available to provide direct impact statistics.