Michigan Traffic Crash Facts reports that more than 10,000 motorcycle accidents occurred in Michigan between 2017 and 2021. Some of those accidents may have been prevented if anti-lock braking systems (ABS) were standard on all motorcycles.
ABS became a mandatory safety feature on all cars produced for use in the United States since 2011. It’s believed that ABS helps prevent some motor vehicle accidents by preventing tires from locking up. A driver has a better chance of steering to safety if the tires can freely move.
ABS and motorcycles
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) is petitioning the federal government to require ABS on all new motorcycles. This is the second attempt, as the first attempt was made 10 years ago to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Although it’s not required by law, some motorcycle manufacturers have started to include ABS as standard equipment. In 2013, around 20% of new motorcycles included ABS. As of 2023, around 59% of new motorcycles have ABS.
Evidence for ABS
A 2021 IIHS study of motorcycle ABS found that accident rates for motorcycles with ABS are 22% lower than those without ABS. There’s also evidence that shows insurance claims for motorcycles with ABS are up to 24% lower than those without ABS.
Is ABS always beneficial?
There’s some concern that ABS is less efficient when motorcycles travel on gravel and other loose surfaces. However, the argument is made that motorcycles could have a switch that allows riders to disable the ABS on certain surfaces. In addition to adding a switch, an indicator light could remind riders to turn the ABS back on when it’s safe.
Crashes will still occur, even if all motorcycles have ABS. However, those in support of making ABS mandatory for motorcycles believe the technology will help save lives.