(WTTV/WXIN) — A national watchdog group that has influenced highway safety regulations for decades is calling for more safety regulations to reduce the number of motorcycle deaths.
The latest statistics from 2021 show the U.S. had more than 6,000 motorcycle deaths that year, which is all-time record. That number is expected to continue increasing.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is urging federal regulators to adopt four changes to bring those numbers down. They include universal helmet laws in all 50 states, antilock braking systems on all new bikes, better crash avoidance systems in other vehicles, and lower speed limits on some roadways.
The institute’s director of statistical services points out that fewer than half of states have helmet laws, even though they require seatbelts in cars. Indiana is one state that does not require riders 18 and older to wear helmets. Studies show that properly fitted helmets prevent deaths by 40% and traumatic brain injuries by two-thirds.
Antilock brake systems in bikes can help riders avoid crashes by allowing them to brake harder without going into a skid that can throw them off the bike. The institute wants to require antilock brakes on all new motorcycles.
According to the institute, cars, trucks and SUVs need crash avoidance systems that do a better job of detecting motorcycles on approach. Current automatic emergency braking systems don’t do well enough at that, according to the institute’s testing.
In addition, related emerging technology called left turn assist could help prevent crashes involving another vehicle turning left in front of an oncoming motorcycle.
And in what could be a controversial proposal, the institute wants to see more speed limits lowered. It points out that states have been raising speed limits for decades; some as high as 80 or 85 miles an hour. The institute says some of those speed limits need to come back down to give drivers and riders more time to react and avoid crashes.
While it’s not clear how state and federal regulators will respond to these recommendations, the IIHS has been instrumental in changing several safety regulations over the last several decades.