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European Safety Study Finds Familiar Causes for Motorcycle Accidents
European's most thorough study of motorcycle accidents to date points to the usual culprits in crashes but also has a few surprise. For example, speed may not be all that dangerous.



The other driver and his failure to perceive the motorcyclist is still a common cause of motorcycle accidents.

European safety researchers have published what is being termed "the most comprehensive in-depth data currently available for Powered Two Wheelers (PTWs) accidents in Europe." Based on investigations of 921 motorcycle accidents (with 103 fatalities) in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain, Motorcycle Accidents In Depth Study (MAIDS), provides the sort of comprehensive results rarely seen in motorcycle safety research. Funded by the Association of European Motorcycle Manufacturers (ACEM) with support from the European Commission and other partners, the study employed the widely recognized Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) methodology for on-scene in-depth motorcycle accident investigations. Employing the OECD methodology not only maintained a consistency between the groups conducting the accident investigations for MAIDS but also allows the data to be compared directly with that of other researchers who use the same system.

The study also collected exposure data, i.e., information about riders who did not crash, which permits researchers to explore how operators or vehicles that crash are different than the control group that does not crash. The MAIDS authors explain it thus: "This exposure information on non-accident involved PTW riders was essential for establishing the significance of the data collected from the accident cases and the identification of potential risk factors in PTW accidents. For example, if 20% of non-accident involved PTWs in the sampling area were red, it would be significant if 60% of those PTWs involved in an accident were reported to be red, suggesting that there is an increased risk of riding a red PTW. On the other hand, if none of the PTWs in the accident sample were red, it would be an interesting finding, needing further study."

Although there are differences in the highway systems, culture, vehicles, and other factors between the European countries where the study was conducted and the United States or other places, we still believe that many of the findings are useful and probably relevant to American riders. Here are some of the findings that might concern all riders and those with an interest in motorcycle safety anywhere.



The Other Guy is still deadly: The object motorcyclists most often collided with were passenger cars. In half of the collision accidents, the driver of the other vehicle was judged to have made the primary error that caused the crash, and he failed to "perceive" the motorcyclist in 70 percent of the two--vehicle collisions. In 37 percent of the the accidents with a partner, it was the motorcyclist who created the problem. As other research has concluded, drivers with motorcycling experience are more likely to see and avoid motorcyclists.

But you don't always need his help: The second most common point of impact was the roadway itself. Yes, some of these non-collision accidents happened as the rider attempted to avoid hitting a car, but plenty of riders managed to crash all by themselves. In rural areas over half the accidents happened without the help of another vehicle. This still leaves plenty of opportunity for serious injuries from curbs and roadside "furniture," especially those barriers intended to corral out-of-control cars. The authors note that collisions with such barriers often results in "serious lower extremity and spinal injuries as well as serious head injuries." Rider inattention was cited in 10.6 percent of the crashes.

It's not the speed. It's the sudden stop: "There were relatively few cases in which excess speed was an issue related to accident causation," The MAIDS authors note. However, the authors point that a speed differential—going either faster or slower than nearby traffic—was a contributing factor in 18 percent of the crashes. They also point out that the typical accident speed was fairly low. In 70 percent of the crashes, the rider hit the car or other object at under 30 mph. Of course, the severity of injuries went up with crash speed.

Don't leave the protective gear at home—or wear it casually: Since this was Europe, 90 percent of the crashers were wearing helmets, and they did a good job—when they stayed on. However, 9 percent of the helmeted riders lost their helmets during the crash, either because they didn't fit properly, weren't fastened properly, or were damaged during the crash. Other protective gear also did a good job of attenuating the most common injuries—to arms and legs, though such gear didn't prevent all injuries.

Because your skills aren't going to save you: The study concludes that "73.1% of all PTW riders attempted some form of collision avoidance immediately prior to impact. Of these, 32% experienced some type of loss of control during the manoeuvre."

Fewer drinkers crashed more: Only 5 percent of the crashers had been drinking, which is much lower that in other studies, but the exposure data revealed that drinkers were still over-represented among the crashers. Crashing motorcyclists were more likely to have been drinking than the drivers they collided with.

Youth and enthusiasm: Riders between 18 and 25 years of age crashed more than their fair share, while riders aged 41 to 55 crashed less frequently than the exposure data said they should. In America, riders over 40 have been showing up as a larger percentage of the crash victims, and since there is no exposure data, there has been concern that they are over-represented. The MAIDS study suggests that issue is not their age.

Hidden threats: Both riders and drivers "failed to account for visual obstructions" in as many as a third of the accident. A parked truck, roadside bushes or glare can hide something and we need to allow for the possibility that it might be there. Riders wearing dark clothing were more likely to crash than others. Other studies have shownm that bright clothing helped riders to avoid collisions.

Right there in front of you: The study found that 90 percent of all threats were in front of the riders who crashed as a result of them.

It's not what you ride: The only type of bike that was over-represented in the MAIDS data was "modified conventional street motorcycles." Engine size also didn't show up as a risk factor. There were not enough bikes equipped with anti-lock brakes to draw any conclusion about their effectiveness.

Check those tires: Tire failure was the only technical failure that made a real blip in the MAIDS data, at 3.6%. Brake problems were cited in 1.2% of the accidents.

Beware the crossroads: Over half the accidents happened in intersections.

Weather or not: Weather was deemed to be a factor in 7.5% of the accidents.

Mean streets: "Roadway design defects" caused or contributed to the crashes 3% of the time.

The license matters: Riders with no licenses or improper licenses crashed more than riders who were properly licensed for what they were riding. This reiterates the conclusions of other studies.

Trained for this? Riders who took some sort of rider training were more likely to try some sort of avoidance maneuver, such as braking or swerving. Untrained riders were more likely to sit there and crash without doing anything to prevent it. Riding experience also worked in the rider's favor, both total and on the bike being ridden. Inexperienced riders are also more likely to do something that causes the accident. As other studies have found, you are in more danger on a bike that is new to you (bad news for motorcycle testers).
The full 173-page report can be downloaded as a PDF file from the site of the ACEM, (Association des Constructeurs Europeens de Motocycles, a European motorcycle industry organization). You must go through a free registration and confirmation process for access to it.
 

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RACER X said:
It's not what you ride: The only type of bike that was over-represented in the MAIDS data was "modified conventional street motorcycles." Engine size also didn't show up as a risk factor.

I hope people don't run wild with this one...
 

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well considered over there, they have a tiered systems, they have to work there way up. also ins. is higher over there then here because there's more riders. and most bike are prolly under 600cc
 

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I don't remember exactly how their system works. I believe that if you are under 18 you must ride a 13bhp bike until you get your license, after that you can ride whatever you want.
If you are over 18 but are learning, you are limited to 33bhp.


Anyone really knows how it works???
 

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Racer X wrote: European's most thorough study of motorcycle accidents to date points to the usual culprits in crashes but also has a few surprise. For example, speed may not be all that dangerous.
The Motorcyclist magazine summary of the MAIDS report you posted is very good, but that second sentence sends an inaccurate message that will be interpreted by some as a rationalization for speeding. Speeds were generally low in the crashes studied because 72% were in cities (in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain) and 49% of the motorcycles involved were under 125cc.

Most of the countries where crashes were studied have tiered licensing (I don't think Italy does), and the sizes of the motorcycles involved seem to show its benefits. Ignoring the 50s, motorcycles from 51-500cc comprised 20% of the crashed bikes but 18% of the exposure sample, so they were slightly more likely to crash than average. With 22% of the crashers and 21% of the population, bikes from 501-750cc were also slightly more likely to crash. Bikes 750cc and larger were involved in 15% of the crashes but were found to be 21% of the population, so they were less likely to crash than smaller bikes. The experience required to obtain a license to ride a big bike apparently has a benefit.

Experience itself, regardless of the size of the bike, was one of the most potent crash preventatives found in the study—but it takes a lot. As Hurt found, riders with less than 6 months riding experience were much more likely to crash than more experienced riders. And also as Hurt found, highly experienced riders (4+ years in Hurt, 5+ years in MAIDS) were much less likely to crash than less experienced riders.
 

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RACER X said:
It's not what you ride: The only type of bike that was over-represented in the MAIDS data was "modified conventional street motorcycles." Engine size also didn't show up as a risk factor.

The license matters: Riders with no licenses or improper licenses crashed more than riders who were properly licensed for what they were riding.
Remember tiered licensing
riders who were riding bikes then they weren't licenesed to (noobs on big bikes) crashed more
 

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what R you lookin' at?
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Discussion Starter #10
unforn jim. the groups used are a far cry from american demographics.......hell 49% of the bikes crashed were under 125cc........how many street bikes here are under 125cc.

then as eddie pointed out the tiered system. unlike our free for all. but it is usefull data.
 

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To understand the report data, you are looking for accident and exposure data to be a similar percentage. If there is a wide variance, that class is at a statistically more or less likely level. If the exposure percentage is higher than the accident percentage, the type is less likely to be involved in an accident. If the accident percentage is higher than the exposure percentage, the vehicle is more likely to be involved in an accident.

In the data below, conventional modified street bike has a higher accident rate than exposure rate and the difference is statistically significant


In the data below, there is no statistical difference due to engine size:
Table 5.3: Engine displacement

Accident data Exposure data
Frequency Percent Frequency Percent
up to 50 cc 394 42.7 367 39.8
51 to 125 cc 89 9.7 86 9.3
126 to 250 cc 37 4 32 3.5
251 to 500 cc 56 6.1 50 5.4
501 to 750 cc 206 22.4 193 20.9
751 to 1000 cc 80 8.7 107 11.6
1001 or more 58 6.3 88 9.5
Unknown 1 0.1 0 0
Total 921 100 923 100

Sorry for the lack of readability.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
and why is that.......MOST riders in the groups, learned under a tiered system....they just didn't jump on a 600+ bike. so can this really reflect the US. no

In the data below, there is no statistical difference due to engine size:
 

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That's a theory but a little premature. This is the best data I've EVER seen on the subject.

You really need to spend some time with this report. There is all kinds of information about rider experience, etc. There is MUCH more than what was in the summary. You'll find something you like.

BTW, which countries have mandatory experience requirements besides Britian? Do you know?
 

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Eddie Apex said:
The (in France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain)

Most of the countries where crashes were studied have tiered licensing (I don't think Italy does),
he'd know more then i do.......

i agree it's a great report and will deleve into it when i get home......already forwarded it to the MSF HQ in TX
 

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Apparently, only Britian retains a power-based tiered system. In the EU (according to their website, Anyone over 18 can get a license for any bike. To ride at 16, you are limited to a lower power vehicle. (Category A is motorcycles. A1 is a subset of motorcycles.)

"The minimum age for the issuing of driving licences is as follows: 16 years for Categories A1 (light motorcycles) and B1 (motor-powered tricycles and quadricycles), 18 years for Categories A, B, B+E, C and C+E and 21 years for Categories D and D+E."

The original law was passed in 1991 (I didn't feel like trudging through the amendments.)
 

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jim schmidt wrote:
In the data below, there is no statistical difference due to engine size:

Table 5.3: Engine displacement
Code:
                 Accident     Exposure 
                Freq     %    Freq    %
up to 50 cc      394   42.7    367   39.8
51 to 125 cc      89    9.7     86    9.3
126 to 250 cc     37    4.0     32    3.5
251 to 500 cc     56    6.1     50    5.4
501 to 750 cc    206   22.4    193   20.9
751 to 1000 cc    80    8.7    107   11.6
1001 or more      58    6.3     88    9.5
Unknown            1    0.1      0    0
Total            921  100      923  100
The report actually states: “There was no significant difference between the accident data and the exposure data except for the over 1001cc category, which was found to be under-represented (i.e. had less risk), (chi-square = 6.2, p< .013).”

I had to refresh my faded recollection of chi square tests, but I found that 751-1000cc motorcycles were underrepresented too (P-value of 0.047, which means essentially that the probability that result is random rather than due to a true underlying difference is 4.7%). Since they set a standard of P < .05 (see Annex B), I believe they erred in not recognizing underrepresentation of 751-1000s. For info, I reproduced exactly other results in the report to satisfy myself that my calculation method is correct.

This website has some info on European licenses. I’ve known the site proprietor via the net for several years and have found him to be conscientious about accuracy.
 

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taziscool said:
No way to compare any of it to the US...they drive on the WRONG side of the road in Europe.:twofinger
I think that would be in England but not France how about Italy Firefighter?
I found the French to be aggressive but good riders. The cc's were mostly 600 and under under. I saw 3 hayabusas , 3 harleys, 5 blackbirds, 9 gsxr1000s, a lot of bmw rt 1150s in Paris. In the south it was about the same with BMW being the bike of the elite. Most were on scooters that rolled to about 50-60 mph.
 

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Eddie Apex said:
This website has some info on European licenses. I’ve known the site proprietor via the net for several years and have found him to be conscientious about accuracy.
I'll look at this when I get a chance. Can you look at the EU website too. It seems to be pretty clear and specific.

Maybe you could also email the study authors to check your other assumption. It's over my head.

I know I'm presuming about your willingness. If you've found an error that changes that particular fact, though, it would be good for everyone to know.

I noticed that someone resurrected the "What did you start on" thread. The anecdotal information there is consistent with this report (which I found interesting.) I'm still inclined to believe that a fool will wreck anything and a level-headed person can ride anything.
 
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