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Risk Hierarchy: Information - Rider Ed - Driver Ed - Conspicuity - Bike Defect - Ultra-Defensive Riding - Crash Avoidance - Injury Mitigation - Crash Scene
The European Maids study, 2005.
Full details on http://www.maids-study.eu/, you can download the full report and other information free on .pdf.
The Maids study was done in 5 sites in Europe. The study probably does not translate well to US conditions. The majority of European bikes on the road are mopeds and scooters, which are mostly used in cities as commute vehicles. Moped riders tend to be younger, less well trained and less experienced than the riders of bigger bikes. Maids found that bigger bikes turn up in fewer crashes. Maids is also of interest because it uses the OECD methodology that is mandated for the new US study.
- The Maids study allocates blame to only 50% of the cage drivers, whereas Hurt said that 75% of accidents are caused by a cage driver entering the right of way of the biker. 37% of the Maids crashes were caused by the cage driver violating the right of way of the biker, but over 50% of the fatal crashes were due to biker error.
- Motorcycle conspicuity, in lighting, bike color and rider clothing visibility and contrast was a major factor. This might also include rider strategy in placing the motorcycle where it can be seen better on the street. 37% of all crashes were caused by failure of the cage driver to see or perceive the motorcycle. This is the single biggest cause of bike crashes in Maids, as it is in Hurt.
- Rider training seems important. Riders with more training were in fewer crashes. Riders with no license were in more crashes. This distinction is important in Europe as most jurisdictions over there have a multi-phase licensing program with compulsory training and serious testing involving written exams, range exercises and an on-road test. Having a full, unrestricted license indicates much more training and testing than it does here. In 75% of the accidents, even though the cage driver was often at fault, biker errors were a contributory factor. These included issues like: poor riding strategy, poor riding skills, ineffective reaction and failures in reading the traffic situation. As biker error results in worse crashes, this factor has greater importance.
- An interesting statistic emerged. Cage drivers who also happened to have a motorcycle driver’s license were blamed for the crash at only half the rate of cage drivers with no motorcycle license. They fail to perceive the bike at about one sixth the rate of cage drivers with no motorcycle license. That indicates that maybe drivers can be trained to see motorcycles better.
- A data collection failure messed up the numbers for ABS equipment, this would have been interesting to see. It is noted that many of the bikers did not use the brakes at all, mainly due to insufficient reaction time.
- It is conclusive that helmets and protective riding gear cut down on (mitigate) the number of injuries and their severity.
- All types of motorcycles crashed about equally. The only bikes that turned up more were modified bikes. In Europe, modified motorcycles are often mopeds where the engine is souped up to go faster than the design speed. This appears to conflict with recent US experience where the military identified sports motorcycles as being a particular risk, but we note that European sports riders have unrestricted licenses and therefore a lot more training than their US counterparts.
- Speeding is still not a major factor, which relates to the previous point.
- The motorcycle condition as a cause had reduced from 3% in Hurt to 0.3% in Maids, but bike condition issues, most of them tire-related, were a contributing factor in 1.6% of crashes. This is significant. Motorcycles and tires might have improved a lot in 20+ years. We might not get that result here due to a different mix of motorcycle models. Even if these issues have gone down, we still need to take that 1.6 percent, it is the only crash factor we can control fairly well. The follow-up death study says that a biker is much more likely to die in a crash of there was a contributory motorcycle technical defect, even if the defect was not the primary cause of the crash.
We suggest that the proposed US study consider a few additional factors:
- The number, technology type and disposition of lighting on the bike. This should include: headlight bulb technology (e.g. HID, PIAA, Halogen, LED), additional lighting (position on motorcycle, light output, type of technology), presence of modulators, the addition of a relay to tap headlights direct from the battery. Also additional or improved rear and brake lights and any additional lighting devices in use. This is because of theories in circulation relating to light positioning and conspicuity. Also additional hi-vis, reflective and other conspicuity-related items on the bike and rider.
- Whether cage drivers have motorcycle endorsements or previous on-road motorcycle experience.
- Training history and experience of both motorcycle and cage driver.
- ABS on the motorcycle, also linked brakes, traction control and other such devices.
- The lane position of the bike prior to the crash from the POV of determining the rider’s positioning strategy.
What bikers can be doing is improving their training and making their motorcycles and apparel more conspicuous. It also looks like other users can be trained to notice motorcycles sooner. If all drivers could be trained, as many as 20% of the Maids crashes might have been avoided. This is difficult, but we'll be looking at it later in the driver-ed page.
"MAIDS references are quoted with the permission of ACEM
Avenue de la Joyeuse Entrée B - 1040 Brussels
tel. + 32 (2) 230 97 32 "