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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

More Motorcycle Riders Puts New Emphasis on Safety

Motorcycle Airbags Could Reduce Fatalities by 33 Percent

How dangerous can riding a motorcycle be? Just ask Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who severely injured himself on his motorcycle in the off-season.

But the good news is that new technologies are being created to increase motorcycle-riding safety. Honda’s Gold Wing models offer a motorcycle airbag system as optional equipment.

In an independent test by AAA and its affiliate in Germany, ADAC In a 45-mph crash, results indicated that Honda’s airbag was able to prevent fatal injury to a test dummy. Were it not for the airbag, the same crash would have caused fatal or grave injuries in a front-to-side collision with an automobile. Researchers drew the conclusion that that the motorcycle airbag could potentially reduce the risk of injury in approximately one-third of all crashes involving motorcycles and passenger vehicles.

Fatal crashes involving motorcycles have increased 115 percent since 1997, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The total number of fatalities in 2005 rose to 4,553, an increase of over 12 percent from the previous year.

According to experts, these figures highlight the importance of safe driving for both motorcyclists and automobile drivers.

According to the AAA's statistics, motorcycle registration rose almost 50 percent in the past 10 years. "The tremendous growth in the popularity of motorcycling has added millions of new motorcycles and riders to our roadways," said AAA President Robert L. Darbelnet.

AAA advises motorcyclists to wear a helmet and bright or reflective clothing. The NHTSA approximates that wearing a helmet would reduce the chance of a crash fatality by 37 percent.

"This means drivers need to be more aware than ever of how to share the road safely with motorcycles," Darbelnet said. "And motorcyclists need to take every opportunity to increase their margin of traffic safety."

For auto drivers, it's a good idea to give motorcyclists enough room to maneuver, such as following at least three to four seconds behind a motorcycle to allow for hazardous road conditions such as pavement transitions, potholes or railroad crossings; and always check their side mirrors before changing lanes.

Learn how to get a motorcycle license including a free sample motorcycle test, DMV requirements and basic safety rider course facts.

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