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Thread: Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures

  1. #1
    Robin Oury, UE's owner MonsterMaxx's Avatar
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    Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures

    A brief summary of the findings is listed below. To order the full report, contact:
    National Technical Information Service
    5285 Port Royal Road
    Springfield, Virginia 22161
    (703)-487-4600
    and order:
    Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures, Volume 1: Technical Report, Hurt, H.H., Ouellet, J.V. and Thom, D.R., Traffic Safety Center, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90007, Contract No. DOT HS-5-01160, January 1981 (Final Report)
    Vol.I (The Main Report and Summary) is PB81206443 (~400 pages)
    Vol.II (Appendix: Supplementary Data) is PB81206450 (~400 pages)
    Either document is $42.95 plus $3.00 shipping. (circa 1990)


    Summary of Findings


    Throughout the accident and exposure data there are special observations which relate to accident and injury causation and characteristics of the motorcycle accidents studied. These findings are summarized as follows:

    1. Approximately three-fourths of these motorcycle accidents involved collision with another vehicle, which was most often a passenger automobile.

    2. Approximately one-fourth of these motorcycle accidents were single vehicle accidents involving the motorcycle colliding with the roadway or some fixed object in the environment.

    3. Vehicle failure accounted for less than 3% of these motorcycle accidents, and most of those were single vehicle accidents where control was lost due to a puncture flat.

    4. In single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error was present as the accident precipitating factor in about two-thirds of the cases, with the typical error being a slideout and fall due to overbraking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.

    5. Roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.) were the accident cause in 2% of the accidents; animal involvement was 1% of the accidents.

    6. In multiple vehicle accidents, the driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcycle right-of-way and caused the accident in two-thirds of those accidents.

    7. The failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. The driver of the other vehicle involved in collision with the motorcycle did not see the motorcycle before the collision, or did not see the motorcycle until too late to avoid the collision.

    8. Deliberate hostile action by a motorist against a motorcycle rider is a rare accident cause. The most frequent accident configuration is the motorcycle proceeding straight then the automobile makes a left turn in front of the oncoming motorcycle.

    10. Intersections are the most likely place for the motorcycle accident, with the other vehicle violating the motorcycle right-of-way, and often violating traffic controls.

    11. Weather is not a factor in 98% of motorcycle accidents.

    12. Most motorcycle accidents involve a short trip associated with shopping, errands, friends, entertainment or recreation, and the accident is likely to happen in a very short time close to the trip origin.

    13. The view of the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved in the accident is limited by glare or obstructed by other vehicles in almost half of the multiple vehicle accidents.

    14. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is a critical factor in the multiple vehicle accidents, and accident involvement is significantly reduced by the use of motorcycle headlamps (on in daylight) and the wearing of high visibility yellow, orange or bright red jackets.

    15. Fuel system leaks and spills were present in 62% of the motorcycle accidents in the post-crash phase. This represents an undue hazard for fire.

    16. The median pre-crash speed was 29.8 mph, and the median crash speed was 21.5 mph, and the one-in-a-thousand crash speed is approximately 86 mph.

    17. The typical motorcycle pre-crash lines-of-sight to the traffic hazard portray no contribution of the limits of peripheral vision; more than three-fourths of all accident hazards are within 45deg of either side of straight ahead.

    18. Conspicuity of the motorcycle is most critical for the frontal surfaces of the motorcycle and rider.

    19. Vehicle defects related to accident causation are rare and likely to be due to deficient or defective maintenance.

    20. Motorcycle riders between the ages of 16 and 24 are significantly overrepresented in accidents; motorcycle riders between the ages of 30 and 50 are significantly underrepresented. Although the majority of the accident-involved motorcycle riders are male (96%), the female motorcycles riders are significantly overrepresented in the accident data.

    22. Craftsmen, laborers, and students comprise most of the accident-involved motorcycle riders. Professionals, sales workers, and craftsmen are underrepresented and laborers, students and unemployed are overrepresented in the accidents.

    23. Motorcycle riders with previous recent traffic citations and accidents are overrepresented in the accident data.

    24. The motorcycle riders involved in accidents are essentially without training; 92% were self-taught or learned from family or friends. Motorcycle rider training experience reduces accident involvement and is related to reduced injuries in the event of accidents.

    25. More than half of the accident-involved motorcycle riders had less than 5 months experience on the accident motorcycle, although the total street riding experience was almost 3 years. Motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.

    26. Lack of attention to the driving task is a common factor for the motorcyclist in an accident.

    27. Almost half of the fatal accidents show alcohol involvement.

    28. Motorcycle riders in these accidents showed significant collision avoidance problems. Most riders would overbrake and skid the rear wheel, and underbrake the front wheel greatly reducing collision avoidance deceleration. The ability to countersteer and swerve was essentially absent.

    29. The typical motorcycle accident allows the motorcyclist just less than 2 seconds to complete all collision avoidance action.

    30. Passenger-carrying motorcycles are not overrepresented in the accident area.

    31. The driver of the other vehicles involved in collision with the motorcycle are not distinguished from other accident populations except that the ages of 20 to 29, and beyond 65 are overrepresented. Also, these drivers are generally unfamiliar with motorcycles.

    32. Large displacement motorcycles are underrepresented in accidents but they are associated with higher injury severity when involved in accidents.

    33. Any effect of motorcycle color on accident involvement is not determinable from these data, but is expected to be insignificant because the frontal surfaces are most often presented to the other vehicle involved in the collision.

    34. Motorcycles equipped with fairings and windshields are underrepresented in accidents, most likely because of the contribution to conspicuity and the association with more experienced and trained riders.

    35. Motorcycle riders in these accidents were significantly without motorcycle license, without any license, or with license revoked.

    36. Motorcycle modifications such as those associated with the semi-chopper or cafe racer are definitely overrepresented in accidents.

    37. The likelihood of injury is extremely high in these motorcycle accidents-98% of the multiple vehicle collisions and 96% of the single vehicle accidents resulted in some kind of injury to the motorcycle rider; 45% resulted in more than a minor injury.

    38. Half of the injuries to the somatic regions were to the ankle-foot, lower leg, knee, and thigh-upper leg.

    39. Crash bars are not an effective injury countermeasure; the reduction of injury to the ankle-foot is balanced by increase of injury to the thigh-upper leg, knee, and lower leg.

    40. The use of heavy boots, jacket, gloves, etc., is effective in preventing or reducing abrasions and lacerations, which are frequent but rarely severe injuries.

    41. Groin injuries were sustained by the motorcyclist in at least 13% of the accidents, which typified by multiple vehicle collision in frontal impact at higher than average speed.

    42. Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement and motorcycle size.

    43. Seventy-three percent of the accident-involved motorcycle riders used no eye protection, and it is likely that the wind on the unprotected eyes contributed in impairment of vision which delayed hazard detection.

    44. Approximately 50% of the motorcycle riders in traffic were using safety helmets but only 40% of the accident-involved motorcycle riders were wearing helmets at the time of the accident.

    45. Voluntary safety helmet use by those accident-involved motorcycle riders was lowest for untrained, uneducated, young motorcycle riders on hot days and short trips.

    46. The most deadly injuries to the accident victims were injuries to the chest and head.

    47. The use of the safety helmet is the single critical factor in the prevention of reduction of head injury; the safety helmet which complies with FMVSS 218 is a significantly effective injury countermeasure.

    48. Safety helmet use caused no attenuation of critical traffic sounds, no limitation of precrash visual field, and no fatigue or loss of attention; no element of accident causation was related to helmet use.

    49. FMVSS 218 provides a high level of protection in traffic accidents, and needs modification only to increase coverage at the back of the head and demonstrate impact protection of the front of full facial coverage helmets, and insure all adult sizes for traffic use are covered by the standard.

    50. Helmeted riders and passengers showed significantly lower head and neck injury for all types of injury, at all levels of injury severity.

    51. The increased coverage of the full facial coverage helmet increases protection, and significantly reduces face injuries.

    52. There is no liability for neck injury by wearing a safety helmet; helmeted riders had less neck injuries than unhelmeted riders. Only four minor injuries were attributable to helmet use, and in each case the helmet prevented possible critical or fatal head injury.

    53. Sixty percent of the motorcyclists were not wearing safety helmets at the time of the accident. Of this group, 26% said they did not wear helmets because they were uncomfortable and inconvenient, and 53% simply had no expectation of accident involvement.

    54. Valid motorcycle exposure data can be obtained only from collection at the traffic site. Motor vehicle or driver license data presents information which is completely unrelated to actual use.

    55. Less than 10% of the motorcycle riders involved in these accidents had insurance of any kind to provide medical care or replace property.
    "That which doesn't kill me, makes me stronger." - Nietzsche

  2. #2
    Veteran rc-er4life's Avatar
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    ...hope you didn't type all of that...that's some interesting info

    -Cody

  3. #3
    22benjamin22
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    That’s a good read.

    Take the info from 23, 25, 27 35 and 41 to the bank. These all point out a small population of the riding public, but account for a majority of the accidents. These are the idiots passing at 20+mph over existing traffic kicking doors and knocking mirrors instead of 5-10 over. These are the guys racing at 140 on the freeway. These are the “stuntas” that ride wheelies through intersections as well as at 70+ on the freeway. These guys have a chip on their shoulder and insist on pressing the right of way (though within their legal right, is stupid and they can't win even against the lowliest of lightweight cars in an accident). These are the jagoffs that give motorcycle riders a bad name.

    25 is interesting though in that “Motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.” Most street only riders I know and even in the motorcycle safety class I took, said that riding offroad won’t help much with onroad riding skills. This contradicts that and points to #29. 2 seconds is a loooong time to react and correct. If it’s a hairy situation or environmental, the experienced offroad rider is used to adapting and counter correcting for lack of or bad traction. I never agreed with what I was taught and this sides with my gut instinct.

    32 is also interesting. I interpret that as Harleys and big twins are not in as many accidents, but when they are, they are more severe. I wouldn’t expect that they would be in dramatically fewer accidents. The extra weight causing more severe injuries is no surprise though.

  4. #4
    Robin Oury, UE's owner MonsterMaxx's Avatar
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    IMHO this statement is TOTALLY true
    “Motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.”

    My 3 decades of off-road experience have saved my tail countless times on the street.

    You simply are NOT going to train broadslides, skids, snap movements and other seemingly insane reflex manuvers on a streetbike. I think these skills can only (maybe I should say 'less painfully') learn these skills off-road.
    Simple fact is that learning this will result in failure to get it right the first few times - then you bounce. Bouncing on the street is a real way to get hurt bad. Offroad you'll just dust yourself off and get back on. This ain't something I want to pratice on a vrod.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the above statement is quite accurate.
    "That which doesn't kill me, makes me stronger." - Nietzsche

  5. #5
    now 728maxx ws7maxx's Avatar
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    I found that very interesting....


    Actually, with the exception of #6,#7 & #10, it makes me feel better about getting a street bike.

    IMO, it looks like the careful/defensive riders with a good helmet, leathers,etc, look to be very underrepresented.

    Ditto, on the off road riding skills helping one be a better street rider.
    Gidddy up.........

  6. #6
    Racer Tervuren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MonsterMaxx
    IMHO this statement is TOTALLY true
    “Motorcycle riders with dirt bike experience are significantly underrepresented in the accident data.”

    My 3 decades of off-road experience have saved my tail countless times on the street.

    You simply are NOT going to train broadslides, skids, snap movements and other seemingly insane reflex manuvers on a streetbike. I think these skills can only (maybe I should say 'less painfully') learn these skills off-road.
    Simple fact is that learning this will result in failure to get it right the first few times - then you bounce. Bouncing on the street is a real way to get hurt bad. Offroad you'll just dust yourself off and get back on. This ain't something I want to pratice on a vrod.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the above statement is quite accurate.

    A agree here also, its much easier to learn how my Porsche 944 handles when out of balance in a low traction environment, either with cheap tires, or in the rain. Getting the feel for the braking threshold, letting off just the right amount when you go over, etc, is much better to learn in something not going as fast. Most modern F1 drivers are very proficient at go karts btw.

    Having your headlights on is a good idea I'm a car driver, not a biker, and it greatly imroves how I can see you. Its almost suicide to be riding lights off at night, I've seen it done, was almost impossble to know where they where.


    If you are making a blind corner, and you know there is a side street cars may pull out of on the other side, go slower, the reaction time for thme to see you is much lower.

    Every one of my freinds in am otorcycle accident, was from a female driver pulling out in front of them without proper distance. And I mean every one.

  7. #7
    Veteran oldwing's Avatar
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    While riding a Honda Interstate 1200 decked out with just over $4000.00 in chrome bumpers and guards with 21 red and amber lights showing on one side, also headlight and running lights. An international scout hit me, the statement from the driver was I didn’t see him; the sun was in my eyes. She was traveling east at 2:45 PM. The statement from the driver in the car behind the one that hit me was quote it looked like she did it on purpose.

    This happened 12 years ago and I still have a steel bar in my femur (upper leg) as a result.

    I had been riding for 43 years when this happened. I watched the car stop at the stop sign, the next time I saw her she was about 5ft away from me. I tried to jump into the air so as not to be hit while on a semi solid object. My left leg was trapped between the car and my bike; my right ankle was also broken. This all happened in Phoenix, I was on a main street and like I said, the car came off a side street. Light traffic and a clear day.

    So far I have had 20 operations on my leg and will possibly need more. I wont scare you with what all this cost.
    Good Luck!!!

    NJOY

  8. #8
    Feeding the Addiction Bobb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 22benjamin22




    32 is also interesting. I interpret that as Harleys and big twins are not in as many accidents, but when they are, they are more severe. I wouldn’t expect that they would be in dramatically fewer accidents. The extra weight causing more severe injuries is no surprise though.

    Or could that be as in a Ninja 1200, creating much higher speeds, hence more severe injuries when they crash? I don't see nearly as many large displacement sport bikes as I do other types.

  9. #9
    www.dewintersign.com Devilmanak's Avatar
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    I used to be a Suzuki mechanic, one of the main causes of accidents here are simply selling a high performance street bike to any moron who has the cash. My friend, years ago, was out riding the curves, probably over his head with more experienced riders, stood it up on a sharp corner and hit the rail, sailed a hundred feet over a drop into the woods. He has no foot now. A guy last year went off the road at well over a hundred around a bend, hit a telephone pole/street light, and quartered himself. When they got to him, he was still alive, with one leg something like 60 feet from him, and the other just hanging by a thread. The pole literally cut him in half.

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