A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework
The motorcycle industry has a long standing commitment to improving motorcycle safety through technological development. There have been decade’s long incremental improvements to handling, braking and lighting systems, in addition to significant improvements to engine management systems and efficiency. Since the late 1990s, significant reductions have been made to emissions, with an accelerated progress through several Euro Emission stages from ECE40 to Euro IV in less than 15 years.
Many developments in safety systems have evolved due to the industry’s involvement with motorcycle racing, with handling, braking and vehicle management systems in particular evolving from advances developed on the track.
As we move further into the 21st Century, increasing demands on technical safety are being made. Although many have been expressed via Whole Vehicle Type Approval and UN Technical Regulations, the industry is playing an active part in the debate looking forward. The items below are part of this exciting evolution, with work by manufacturers being coordinated by the European trade association ACEM. This work will be unaffected by Brexit, as manufacturers will continue to seek harmonised technical ‘norms’ for the European geographic area. MCIA will continue to be a member of ACEM after Brexit.
Manufacturers work continuously to bring advanced and innovative products to the market while ensuring a high level of safety for users. In recent years, manufacturers have focused on four key areas: intelligent transport systems, lighting devices, vehicle suspension, and stability and braking systems.
The industry will continue developing and promoting safer vehicles and equipment through advanced design and innovation.
Lighting devices: seeing and being seen
The ability of motorcycles and scooters to be detected by other road users is a critical aspect in crash prevention. In-depth studies have repeatedly shown that failure to see motorcycles by other road users is a major contributory factor in urban motorcycle injuries.
This can be partially addressed by the introduction of specific technologies that improve the conspicuity of motorcycles. This is why manufacturers committed themselves to equipping all their models including mopeds with Automatic Headlight On technology (AHO) in 2003. Moreover, the motorcycle industry is also making use of Daytime Running Lights (DRL) and amber position lights (APL). These systems make it easier for other road users to detect powered two and three wheelers.
Riding at night or in poor visibility conditions poses an important safety challenge. In view of this, some industry members are already producing vehicles fitted with adaptive lights which make night driving considerably safer. Other ACEM members have committed to incorporating adaptive lights to their newest models.
Additional relevant technologies available in the market include polyellipsoid headlamps, full LED lights (headlights, taillights and indicators), projector headlights and xenon headlights.
Vehicle suspension and stability
Vehicle stability while riding a motorcycle or scooter is crucial. Highly performing suspension systems are required in order to safely adapt to different road surface conditions. Suspension systems also contribute to smooth handling and braking.
Over the years manufacturers have developed a wide range of innovative vehicle suspensions adapted to different motorcycle usages. They include electronic suspension systems (standard or optional depending on the model), speed-sensitive electronic steering stabilisers (standard in various high performance models), semi-active suspension systems (which adapt the response of the suspension to road conditions, vehicle speed and driving style) and selfregulating suspensions.
All of these systems provide for maximum stability and increase user control of the vehicle.
Stopping in time: braking systems
The motorcycle industry introduced the first anti-lock braking systems (ABS) in 1988, long before this area was considered a priority by policy-makers. Since then, the industry has developed different advanced braking technologies, tailoring these devices to the specific needs of consumers. Other advanced braking systems include Combined Braking Systems (CBS), rear wheel lift-off protection, automatic brake force distribution, amplified braking systems and brake by wire. These systems can operate individually or in combination.
Furthermore, ACEM signed the European Road Safety Charter in 2004 (MCIA also did so during the same year) committing itself to offering at least 50% of their street models with advanced braking systems as an option by 2010. After this initial target was surpassed, ACEM manufacturers set a further objective: 75% of street motorcycle models offered on the market in 2015 will be available with an advanced braking system as an option or as standard fitting.
ABS systems will become mandatory for new motorcycles over 125cc from 2016. From that same date, new models up to 125cc will have to be equipped with either a combined braking system, ABS, or both. As a result of the ACEM commitment to the Road Safety Charter some manufacturers have decided to fit ABS as standard on all their models.
Looking into the future: Intelligent transport systems
In the years ahead, further technological breakthroughs will come through innovative intelligent transport systems (ITS) which will allow vehicles to interact with each other and with surrounding infrastructure.
Some ITS devices have already been successfully introduced on the market by members. Moreover, the motorcycle industry is engaged in in-house R&D activities and actively participates in EU research projects on cooperative ITS.
Manufacturers have also adopted a Memorandum of Understanding on ITS, committing themselves to install safety relevant cooperative ITS onto at least one of their models by 2020.
ITS devices can further enhance road safety
Research shows that one of the most frequent human errors in collisions is the failure of other road users to see motorcycles within the traffic environment, due to lack of driver attention, temporary view obstructions or the low conspicuity of motorcycles. This problem could be addressed by enabling non-motorcycle drivers to receive a ‘motorcycle approaching indication’ (MAI) or in case of an emergency situation, a collision warning message. This form of digital conspicuity of motorcycles would result in a higher level of safety for riders. For this reason, the industry sees vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication as a technology which has a high potential to improve road safety across the EU and may lead to better integration of motorcycles in the transport system.
Some ITS applications have also the potential to improve the environmental performance of vehicles and to help meet the growing demand for mobility by optimizing the use of existing road infrastructure (eg by providing information on the shortest routes).
Examples of ITS applications include: collision prevention devices, emergency notification systems and road traffic management systems.
Specific vehicle usages must be taken into account
It is important to bear in mind that powered two and three wheelers encompass a wide range of vehicles that have very different uses. Although the motorcycle market is often perceived as a whole, in reality it is characterised by a great diversity of vehicles. Whilst the largest market segment (over 50%) is represented by urban oriented vehicles, motorcycles above 650cc represent 38% of the market.
Certain ITS solutions would be better suited to a particular category of motorcycle because they would provide the most benefit with a cost level relevant to the market segment. Small urban motorcycles, for example, could be equipped with ITS devices improving their electronic conspicuity, whilst high-end vehicles could benefit from more advanced optional features.
A mandatory approach, without distinguishing motorcycle categories, would be counterproductive. As long as core functions and interoperability are preserved, each Manufacturer should have the freedom to implement the most appropriate technical solutions and optional features, within a competitive business environment.
Technical considerations of relevance to motorcycles
Notwithstanding the above mentioned benefits of ITS, important technical issues must be addressed in order to ensure market uptake. Further ITS deployment will require investments in research technology and infrastructure, as well as a clear and sound legal framework.
The driving dynamics of powered two and three wheelers are much more complex than those of cars. ITS applications, which may remove or interfere with the rider’s control of the vehicle, cannot be utilised in the way they could be for cars. Autonomous active interventions in the control or dynamics of the vehicle may be dangerous to a motorcycle rider, as this could destabilize the rider and the vehicle, potentially causing, instead of preventing, a collision. For this reason, industry and NPCC strongly supports the use of warning systems.
Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Adaptive Cruise Control (ACCA) or Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems (AEBS), which have been primarily engineered for use in cars, have the potential to be dangerous if applied to a motorcycle without the necessary adaptation to motorcycle dynamics. Powered two and three wheelers require a dedicated approach and specific engineering solutions to optimize the potential of ITS for road safety.
It is also important to stress that these systems will require the development of appropriate human-machine interfaces (HMI). HMI must minimise rider distraction and should be specifically designed with motorcycle riding in mind. For example, messages should be prioritised so that safety warnings override more general notifications.
Manufacturers are committed to ensuring that any safety related co-operative ITS applications are interoperable between motorcycle manufacturers and, more importantly, with other road users.
The motorcycle industry will contribute to European and global ITS forums to ensure that cars, trucks and motorcycles are all able to communicate using their various ITS applications. It is critical that all motorcycles must be able to recognise messages from any other vehicle on the road, regardless of brand, vehicle type, etc. This can be ensured by adhering to established harmonised standards. The involvement of Highways England within this partnership will enable greater collaboration between those responsible for designing infrastructure, and the industry. This will assist these technologies to develop together for improved cohesion and interoperability.
Industry will also engage rider safety and improve applications to ensure that all means available are employed to reduce rider casualties.
- Industry will continue its efforts in the technical area
- Government will be asked to take a firmer approach to those technical areas where the European Commission’s demands are either unreasonable, or do not accord with manufacturers proper lead times
UPDATE – Action 31 – To Encourage the Development of Safer Motorcycles and Equipment
A wide range of technical updates are currently being implemented under EU ‘Euro IV’ regulations.
The UK motorcycle Industry is considering an application to join the International Motorcycle Manufacturers Association (IMMA) after Brexit. The DfT have indicated that they would support such a move as this would allow UK influence on technical regulation to continue – especially as technical ‘norms’ are likely to become increasingly global.