High Risk for Motorcyclists

Exposed to an Extremely High Risk

Apr 2017

Whether it is a leisure time activity or for work: People who travel by motorcycle always put themselves at a high risk of becoming involved in an accident. In the EU, the driving performance-related risk of being killed in a road accident is 18 times higher for motorcyclists than it is for other road users. In addition, the number of motorcyclists killed has been stagnating at a comparatively high level in many EU member states for years; on average, at least 20% of traffic fatalities are motorcyclists.

DEKRA recently demonstrated just how severe the consequences of a crash between a motorcycle and, for example, a car, which is the most frequent opponent in motorcycle accidents, can be at the Crash Test Center in Neumünster in the context of an event accompanied by presentations given by DEKRA accident researchers Markus Engelhaaf, Alexander Berg and Luigi Ancona. The side impact of a motorcyclist with a parked car at a speed of just under 60 km/h was simulated. The dummy collided with the center of the driver door and was then sent flying over the vehicle. Roughly eight meters behind the car, the dummy hit the road first with its head and then with its right shoulder.

“In reality, a motorcyclist would have survived this kind of scenario with serious or extremely severe injuries – if at all,” explained Jens König, head of accident analytics and accident research at DEKRA Automobil GmbH. However, the consequences for a motorcyclist are even more dramatic if their head or upper body collide directly with the vehicle structure. “This is a great risk in the case of higher vehicles such as SUVs or vans in particular,” Jens König added. Depending on how hard the motorcyclist hits the car, its occupants are, of course, also at a great risk of sustaining injuries. The head and upper body of the vehicle occupants in the area of impact in particular are at risk.

Provided that motorcyclists realize in good time that they need to brake hard, the anti-lock braking system (ABS) contributes to preventing an accident or mitigating the consequences for all parties involved. “The now mandatory requirement for all new motorcycles to be fitted with ABS is a move that offers a realistic chance of preventing a considerable number of motorcycle-accident-related fatalities and injuries,” Jens König pointed out. This is because the systems prevent the wheels from locking. Especially during full braking operations or sudden deceleration on a slippery surface, ABS allows motorcycles in particular to come to a stop much more safely and riders to maintain better control at the physical limits of riding. Nevertheless, quality protective clothing and a helmet as well as a defensive driving style remain an absolute necessity for motorcyclists.