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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
"July 1, 2007
Handlebars
For Riders, Risk Is Growing
By MATTHEW L. WALD


RETURNING to the office from lunch on his 2007 Honda Gold Wing motorcycle
one day this spring, Lou O’Connell got a glimpse into the future, if only
by two seconds or so. A car pulled out of a shopping center in Weston,
Fla., near Fort Lauderdale, and into his path. He could see that he was
going to hit the car.


Mr. O’Connell said that although he did not expect to be killed in the
impending crash — becoming one of the 5,000 or so motorcycle riders who
will die on American roads this year if recent trends continue — he knew
that at the very least he was about to go flying over the handlebars.


But then there was a bang and a cloud of powder in front of him. Though the
front of his bike had slammed the passenger side of a black Nissan 350Z,
Mr. O’Connell found himself nearly uninjured — intact enough to lay down
the bike and stride over with some well-chosen words for the car’s driver.


Mr. O’Connell’s accident was, so far as Honda knows, the first in which the
air bag of a motorcycle deployed to protect a rider. At least for now, the
air bag is an option only on the big Gold Wing touring bikes, which cost
nearly $25,000 fully equipped with features like heated handgrips and
antilock brakes.


“It’s amazing,” said Mr. O’Connell, who escaped with only bruises on his
shins. Without the air bag, his injuries might have been serious: Florida
relaxed its helmet law in July 2000, and he had been seduced by good
weather to ride without one. “It was so nice, I couldn’t resist, and I
couldn’t resist the American dream,” Mr. O’Connell, an immigrant from
Ireland, said. “The American dream is to ride a motorcycle without a
helmet.”


Honda began development of motorcycle air bags in 1990 and tested the
system for a decade before making it available on the Gold Wing for 2007. A
Honda spokesman, Jon Row, emphasized that the air bag was something of a
last measure in today’s safety technology, and is not intended to replace
the need to wear a helmet.


Mr. O’Connell, 40, and the father of two young children, said the accident
persuaded him to wear his helmet whenever he rides.


The crash was something of a milestone in motorcycle safety, one of the few
positive developments in recent years. Riding a motorcycle is becoming
riskier. Deaths last year increased by 5.4 percent over 2005, according to
preliminary estimates of the federal Fatality Analysis Reporting System,
and are up for the ninth consecutive year. Deaths have increased 125
percent over 10 years, a period in which registrations rose more than 50
percent.


Even when adjusted for more bikes covering more miles, the picture is grim.
While the death rate for people in vehicles fell by about 17 percent for
each mile traveled over that period, the rate for motorcycle riders more
than doubled, according to the report.


That timeline coincides with factors including a rising average age of
riders, more powerful engines and the repeal of state laws requiring
universal helmet use, in part a result of pressure applied by lobby groups
that persuaded legislators to “let the rider decide.” Wearing a helmet cuts
the risk of death by about 37 percent, according to Ted R. Miller, a
researcher at the Pacific institute for Research and Evaluation. Making
helmets mandatory increases use because police officers can check
compliance at a glance.


Measuring the effect of motorcycle helmet law repeals is tricky because of
factors like the increase in motorcycle sales. Still, the numbers are
powerful. Texas, which loosened its laws in 1977 and then reinstated
universal coverage in 1989, again backed down on the regulations in 1997
for riders over 21; fatalities shot up 31 percent in the first year after
the law was relaxed. A study in Florida sponsored by the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration found that in the two years after that state
repealed its universal helmet law in 2000, fatalities for every 10,000
motorcycles were up 21 percent, compared with 13 percent nationally.


At the National Transportation Safety Board, the death toll has not gone
unnoticed because it is now larger than the number of deaths in airplane,
marine, railroad and pipeline accidents combined. Deborah A. P. Hersman, a
member of the board who presided over a two-day motorcycle safety forum
last September, said in an e-mail message, “This is the only mode of
transportation in which the overall number of fatalities and the rate of
fatalities continue to steadily rise, and yet there is no public outcry.”


While it might seem that older riders would be more experienced and less
likely to take risks, other factors may lie behind their portion of the
fatality increases.


“It’s the baby boomers,” said Barbara L. Harsha, executive director of the
Governors Highway Safety Association, a Washington-based group of state
officials. Many riders are returning to bikes years after having given up
riding, and “they don’t realize how powerful the bikes are,” she said.


Government statistics support, in raw numbers at least, the assertion about
older riders, even if the data cannot assign blame for the fatal crashes.
Umesh Shankar, an analyst at the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, said that the number of fatalities among riders 40 and over
had more than tripled.


The industry, though, says the statistics are misleading. The Motorcycle
Industry Council, a trade association, says that the fatality rate — which
takes into account miles traveled — has been calculated incorrectly, in
part because the Transportation Department does not accurately tally the
number of miles ridden. For instance, government statistics say motorcycles
traveled 9.6 billion miles in 2003; the industry council’s research says
they actually traveled 20.6 billion miles.


The Motorcycle Safety Foundation, which is allied with the industry
council, does agree that returning riders can be a problem. Dean L.
Thompson, a spokesman for the safety group, said that older riders should
“not be in denial about their skills, which decline over time.” Riders
should know their limits, he said.


With gasoline prices high, some riders are putting more miles on their
bikes. Mr. O’Connell, the Gold Wing owner, loves to ride but also uses the
bike in his business. He is a commercial real estate broker, and says when
he arrives to show a property, the big Honda impresses customers.


The industry’s consistent message is that more rider training will reduce
the number of deaths. Last fall, Ms. Hersman took a basic rider course, and
got a motorcycle endorsement on her Virginia drivers license.


Ms. Hersman may be better prepared than most riders; according to the
industry, only about 38 percent of riders have taken an organized rider
education course. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation urges riders to take
recurrent safety courses, wear protective gear and not ride while impaired.


Air bags, which have cut the fatality rate in cars, are not adaptable to
all motorcycles. They are well suited to touring models like the Gold Wing
or the very popular cruiser bikes, where the rider sits upright, but sport
bikes with a crouched riding position present a design challenge.


Electronic antiskid systems, a technology that has been very effective in
preventing car and truck crashes, are not applicable to two-wheel vehicles,
but traction control devices are already available on many BMW motorcycles.
In addition, BMW offers tire pressure monitoring, which can help riders
prevent problems on the road."

:beer3: :pepper1: :mcrider:
 

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I am sure that cagers who can no longer drive without a cell phone stuck to their ear has had nothing to do with an increase in accidents. :roll:
 

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Yes. It seems they mention that car fatalities are down, but they don't say if accidents are up. A fender bender is much more serious on a bike than a car, and phone usage would have a lot to do with how many of those there are, for sure.
 

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guyver60 said:
I am sure that cagers who can no longer drive without a cell phone stuck to their ear has had nothing to do with an increase in accidents. :roll:
:click: :pepper1: As always ... check it out ... :!: :!: :beer3:

Thanks so much for taking the time to post ...
Diversity of opinion and new membership is the lifeblood of any community ... :wink:
:fullsize:


This is the best board :!:

... and it just keeps on getting better every day ... :wink:


opinions vary ....

all blessings ...

crew

:crew:
 

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I was wondering how effective the air bag was going to be. Apparently in the right circumstance it works. Now I'm curious how fast he was traveling at impact.

As far as blaming the baby boomer's, I'm not buying it. I think they failed to consider that if a particular age group of riders increase exponentially then the number of fatalities for that group will as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Mad Cow said:
I was wondering how effective the air bag was going to be. Apparently in the right circumstance it works. Now I'm curious how fast he was traveling at impact.
As far as blaming the baby boomer's, I'm not buying it. I think they failed to consider that if a particular age group of riders increase exponentially then the number of fatalities for that group will as well.
Don't know, it didn't say?! However, I will bet you a dollar to a doughnut that he'd have exited quickly over the bars had it not deployed, regardless!!! Again, KUDOS Honda!!!!!!!! And, good for him!
 

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POGOGOLF said:
Mad Cow said:
I was wondering how effective the air bag was going to be. Apparently in the right circumstance it works. Now I'm curious how fast he was traveling at impact.
As far as blaming the baby boomer's, I'm not buying it. I think they failed to consider that if a particular age group of riders increase exponentially then the number of fatalities for that group will as well.
Don't know, it didn't say?! However, I will bet you a dollar to a doughnut that he'd have exited quickly over the bars had it not deployed, regardless!!! Again, KUDOS Honda!!!!!!!! And, good for him!
No doubt but I'm sure theres effective speed range of the air bag for front end collisions. I believe I read that most motorcycle impacts occur around 30 mph.
 

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I rather like the dual air bags that rest behind me and in front of the backrest instead, makes for a nice backrest for me on trips. Not standard with all bikes as they are usually procured as an aftermarket accessory and come with attachments and some can be quite expensive in the long run. Not really safety equipment though. :wink:
 

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When I first saw the airbag system on a goldwing I made fun of it stating that it would never work, but it looks like I stand corrected, that's amazing that he was able to just walk away from the accident. I agree, kudos to Honda.
 

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I never expected much from a motorcycle airbag, either. I'm glad Honda has proven me wrong there. As for the increase in morts for bikers over 40, I can't get past thinking that is due to the rush of mid-lifers that decide for the first time in their lives to buy a bike, and plunk down $20K for that new Harley so they can joint the club and be cool. Big, heavy bike with a big motor and zero riding skills and next to no safety gear can't be a good combination.
 

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That article mentions more riders are riding more because of the gas prices. This is actually a good thing, IMO. The guys with bikes that rarely ever ride them have got to be rusty most of the time they are on the roads. For that reason, riding more frequently would seem to increase safety.
 

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MacGuy said:
When I first saw the airbag system on a goldwing I made fun of it stating that it would never work, but it looks like I stand corrected, that's amazing that he was able to just walk away from the accident. I agree, kudos to Honda.
Yeah dude, you and me -

I had visuals of it deploying, and giving a BOUNCE effect to the rider, so NOW instead just going over the bars, they would be catapulted 30 feet in the air first......lol

Man..if it DOES work like that...sign me up for one on the 2009 VTX 2200 :mcrider: ....

tjk
 

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ROKJOK said:
MacGuy said:
When I first saw the airbag system on a goldwing I made fun of it stating that it would never work, but it looks like I stand corrected, that's amazing that he was able to just walk away from the accident. I agree, kudos to Honda.
Yeah dude, you and me -

I had visuals of it deploying, and giving a BOUNCE effect to the rider, so NOW instead just going over the bars, they would be catapulted 30 feet in the air first......lol

Man..if it DOES work like that...sign me up for one on the 2009 VTX 2200 :shock: :shock: :mcrider: ....

tjk
Is this for real? I just wet my pants..... :twisted:
 

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PonyVTX said:
ROKJOK said:
MacGuy said:
When I first saw the airbag system on a goldwing I made fun of it stating that it would never work, but it looks like I stand corrected, that's amazing that he was able to just walk away from the accident. I agree, kudos to Honda.
Yeah dude, you and me -

I had visuals of it deploying, and giving a BOUNCE effect to the rider, so NOW instead just going over the bars, they would be catapulted 30 feet in the air first......lol

Man..if it DOES work like that...sign me up for one on the 2009 VTX 2200 :shock: :shock: :mcrider: ....

tjk


Is this for real? I just wet my pants..... :twisted:
:D LOL
 

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POGOGOLF said:
Mr. O’Connell, an immigrant from
Ireland, said. “The American dream is to ride a motorcycle without a
helmet.”
News to me...I guess I must just not be American.

Mr. O’Connell, 40, and the father of two young children, said the accident
persuaded him to wear his helmet whenever he rides.
I guess he's no longer American either, must be focusing back on his Irish dream of riding a Motorcycle WITH a helmet.




Wearing a helmet cuts the risk of death by about 37 percent, according to Ted R. Miller, a researcher at the Pacific institute for Research and Evaluation.
Bah...it won't make me wear one until it's a 38% less chance of death. 37% chance better that I'll live just isn't good enough. [/end sarcasm]
 

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PonyVTX said:
ROKJOK said:
MacGuy said:
When I first saw the airbag system on a goldwing I made fun of it stating that it would never work, but it looks like I stand corrected, that's amazing that he was able to just walk away from the accident. I agree, kudos to Honda.
Yeah dude, you and me -

I had visuals of it deploying, and giving a BOUNCE effect to the rider, so NOW instead just going over the bars, they would be catapulted 30 feet in the air first......lol

Man..if it DOES work like that...sign me up for one on the 2009 VTX 2200 :shock: :shock: :mcrider: ....

tjk
Is this for real? I just wet my pants..... :twisted:

hahahahaha nah, unless it's just a lucky guess.......they're gonna HAVE to step up soon though.....we're no longer the biggest....

Sharp scoot, by the way bro......diggin' that paint!

tjk
 

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"Riding a motorcycle is becoming riskier."

I agree, due to more bikes on the road, fewer experienced riders and less and less tolerance being displayed by the cagers around us (even to other cagers). It's a jungle out there -- keep your head on straight and with a little luck, you'll be all right.

BTW, I know some guys that thought that airbag was bunk, but I've always thought it was a good idea. How many times a week does someone pull out in front of you on the highway or turn left into the grocery store in front of you, as you tootle along at 30 mph? Some people believe that when it's your time to go, it's your time to go. I, however, would be three kinds of pissed off if I bit the bullet, because some dummy on a cell phone decided they didn't want to wait another 3 seconds to turn in front of me. Man, I'd haunt their ass forever!

Way to go, Honda! As long as a frickin' seatbelt isn't the next step, I hope more bike manufacturers follow suit. Hell, maybe for us cruiser guys and gals, the airbag could be made available in chrome (like one of those chrome Mylar balloons)!

:wink: :wink: :wink:
 

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I didn't see any statistics on how many vehicles caused the bike accidents! :roll:

On the trike board they are discussing the fact that the trike kit companies do not recommend triking a airbagged Wing, they won't give a warrenty for them. Seems the problem is driving in a curve on a airbagged Wing trike could cause the bag to go off. Something about the sensors in the forks. It sounds like California Side Car is going to study a airbagged wing to see if they can be converted to a trike as a lot of people are saying that eventually all wings may be airbagged in the future.

At one time Oklahoma was pushing for a seat belt law for motorcycles but it got knocked down.
 

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Is that correct?
I bottomed out my front forks on a nasty pothole I didn't see about a month ago. I would HATE to have my airbag go off at 50 mph, before having lost control!! :shock:

Does anyone know how they work? I never thought about it, but a false deployment on a bike could be a very bad thing!!



Jason
 

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JLMEMT said:
Is that correct?
I bottomed out my front forks on a nasty pothole I didn't see about a month ago. I would HATE to have my airbag go off at 50 mph, before having lost control!! :shock:

Does anyone know how they work? I never thought about it, but a false deployment on a bike could be a very bad thing!!



Jason
I don't know how the Goldwing airbags work, but I believe automobiles have four front sensors tied to 'em -- two directly in the front of the vehicle and one on each front side. At least two of those sensors need to be damaged in order to set off the airbag -- either the two front-most sensors, or the two front side sensors or one front and one side, etc. There must be a sensor or two in the nose of the 'Wing, where the front end needs to be crushed in order to deploy the airbag -- just hitting a hard bump shouldn't set it off. I believe the quoted article says Honda has been working on this system since 1990, so I'm sure all of those concerns have been addressed...
 
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