The analysis of a global survey of 1578 motorcyclists who responded from 30 countries in Europe, the USA, Asia, Australia and South America and in eight languages in 2019 has been published in a comprehensive report.
Riders of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds who had been involved in a collision over the last ten years were invited to take part in the survey which looked at the dynamics of motorcycle crashes.
The riders who replied to the survey came from a varied age range, motorcycling experience, as well as depth of skills and training.
The new research presented in the report, most importantly involved riders bringing their personal experience and their expertise beyond that of simple academia. Riders understand motorcycling in way quite different than that of academia, where statistical analyses of large databases such as police reports and hospital records has displaced research that requires in depth crash scene investigative knowledge.
The riders’ crash details which were provided through the responses to the questions as well as the comments they offered, brought those stories of personal experiences which included treatment of their injuries, pillion riders and the dynamics of their crash, that in their own words allowed a deeper insight into the dynamics of crashes and the circumstances. These could not have been captured in a usual ‘tick box’ survey.
The fact that the authors of the report are all motorcyclists and are aware of the dynamics of riding a motorcycle with the potential risks riders face, was fundamental in the analysis of the responses because it meant that they all understood the issues that riders face in traffic and out on the road.
Particular focus most relevant to motorcycles included the use of protective equipment and assistance systems, in particular Advanced (anti-lock) Braking Systems (ABS).
Evidence from the Riders’ Responses
What became evident from the findings of the survey, was that orthodox motorcycle accident analysis appears to be “looking the wrong way”. Typically, motorcycle accident studies have identified human error as the major cause of collisions. Other reasons considered are the lack of training, sports bike riders taking unnecessary risks and riding at high speeds which has been used as a measure for severe injuries.
However, the evidence provided in this report demonstrates that the correlation between speed and the seriousness of injuries is random, in other words, the speed of the motorcycle when it crashes with another vehicle, road infrastructure or an object or animal does not necessarily determine the severity of the injuries of the motorcyclist.
This finding is important because it allows analysts and researcher to focus their attention on what the evidence in this study provides, which is the mechanism of the crash (the trajectory of the rider post-crash and what he/she hits) has far more importance than speed in terms of the type and the severity of injuries. In fact, the post-crash motion “Topside” occurred in 63% of those cases where the rider collided with a car. In terms of injuries this type of trajectory dominates both the range of type of injuries and the severity. This is an area of research that needs further attention, indeed, the report recommends further research that has been drawn out from the conclusions.
The authors: Elaine Hardy, Dimitri Margaritis, James Ouellet and Martin Winkelbauer would like to thank all those riders in the countries from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres who took part in the survey to make the report possible, especially those who shared their personal trauma and those of their loved ones.
Finally, to those others who shared their expertise and advice, profound gratitude is owed to all and hopefully this will open up a whole new chapter of motorcycle crash causation investigation.
Full report available at – www.investigativeresearch.org
Direct Link – The Dynamics Of Motorcycle Crashes : A Global Survey of 1578 Motorcyclists pdf – 1.83mb
Infographic Picture – Click Here
I get that it’s not how fast you fall off but what you hit that damages (assuming the right gear). And speed does not necessarily cause a crash. It might be riding outside your personal envelope, panic or fear. But if your trajectory means you are going to hit something, the slower the better. And you are less likely to be outside you envelope if you are slower.
Elaine - Investigative Research says
May I suggest you read the report – you are making assumptions off the top of your head. That’s not what the report says at all. The trajectory does not necessarily mean that you will hit something.
In other words, how you fall and what you hit is in the lap of the gods.
The answers to your questions are in the report to find.
Great work, thank you.
Re shoulder injury despite armour, I would say the armour is designed to protect against contusion, and there are many other ways a shoulder can suffer in a crash.
Re the discourse, assigning a cause detracts from the complexity. Better to think of a chain of events. Some links may be pure happenstance. Eg. high speed may be reasonable under the conditions and an animal running across the road rare. If the two tangle, saying that the cause is speed or rider incompetence is partial and blame-oriented.
BTW It’s dual carriageway, not duel (though it sometimes feels like the latter!).
Re PPE and shoulder injuries page 49 :
“What perhaps need to be considered is the caveat required in relation to motorcyclists’ clothing which is that hazards against which this garment cannot provide protection are: 1) Severe bending, crushing and torsional forces which occur when the body and arms become trapped between the motorcycle and another vehicle or the road. 2) Massive penetrating injuries on any part of the body. 3) High energy impacts on the chest or abdomen, and se-vere bending forces such as when the torso strikes an upright post. Whilst certain types and levels of accident protection can be provided by clothing, protection against some hazards is impossible.” Further on page 106 “: “Questions that need answers are: how effective was the clothing they were wearing? Riders may have invested in dedicated motorcycling apparel, but was it sufficiently protective? They felt protected, but did it deliver? This is where a future study, where clothing meeting the requirements of EN 17092 should feature, might prove interesting. There will be a need to identify which performance class the clothing being worn had passed. This might highlight that anything passing “A/B” for abrasion resistance and tear and seam strength as effectively being no better than casual clothing. ”
With regards your comments about “assigning a cause” I’m not sure what you meant, but in the conclusions page 103 :
“The findings from this study have identified a factor that is possibly contentious, which is evidence that indicates that the correlation between speed and the seriousness of injuries is random. In other words, the speed of the motorcycle when it crashes with another vehicle, road infrastructure or an object or animal does not necessarily determine the severity of the injuries of the motorcyclist. This finding is important because it allows analysts and re-searchers to focus their attention on what the evidence in this study provides, which is the mechanism of the crash (the trajectory of the rider and what he/she hits) has far more importance than speed in terms of the severity of injuries. However, that does not diminish the fact that high speed can lead to crashes.
The difference between avoiding a crash or not is determined by the ability to be able to stop in time. As an example , if the indicated speed (using miles as a measurement) is 60 mph, the braking distance is calculated at 31 metres, if the indicated speed is 100 mph then the braking distance would be 97 metres and at the higher speed of 148 mph, the required braking distance would be 181 metres. Simply, the lower the speed, the shorter the braking distance and the greater the possibility of avoiding a crash.
In simple terms, the speed limits are there for a reason. It is important to recognise that speed does have an effect in terms of control. Riding on a public road requires riders and indeed drivers to acknowledge that the road is to share and therefore preparation, awareness and riding within the legal speed limits is relevant in terms of crash avoidance. Speed limits should not, however, be a target for riders and there are many examples of crashes occurring because the speed was inappropriate for the conditions of the road and the surroundings”.
Thanks for the spell check.
Hello Elaine –
While not quibbling at all with the conclusions from your survey – v interesting and thought-provoking – I do wonder where you get your braking distances from. They seem to be way off the Highway Code figures?
Have you a source for yours?
Investigative Research Northern Ireland says
Forensic Science Northern Ireland investigation on braking distances for motorcycles. Motorcycles Fatalities in Northern Ireland part two
Sorry, Elaine – I have to follow this up. I am referring to your reply above, on 25/4/20, to Em,in which you quote “braking distance” figures from 60mph and 100mph.
Firstly – do you mean “braking distance(BD)” or “overall stopping distance(OAD)” which includes “thinking distance”?
Secondly, you state a BD from 60mph of 31m, and from 100mph of 97m. These contrast with the Highway Code figures: 60mph – BD 180′ (approx 55m), OAD 240′ (73m)
100mph – BD 500′ (152m), OAD 600′ (182m) ** these 100mph figures extrapolated from the accepted, lower, HWC numbers)
I wondered if the figures you used might be for KPH rather than MPH speeds, but even then:
HWC: 60kph (= approx 40mph) – BD 80′ (24m), OAD 120′ (37m)
100kph (= approx 60mph) – BD 180′ (55m), OAD 240′ (73m)
I can’t get either set of figures to match, and if we assume that your numbers do refer to MPH, they greatly underestimate the distance needed to stop.
I haven’t been able to find a source for your figures in the N.Ireland report to which you referred me in your reply above. I’m really not being difficult – honest! – but it’s such a comprehensive and careful report otherwise that I thought I must be missing something!
Investigative Research Northern Ireland says
The Highway Code braking distances are specific for cars not motorcycles, furthermore they are outdated as they refer to tests done many years ago thus modern car brakes are completely different and I suspect not relevant to the figures you quote- but still not motorcycles therefore it seems that you are trying to compare apples with pears – no? Reference the Motorcycle Fatalities In Northern Ireland report (part two). This is only available to crash scene investigators and experts in the field. In any event, the data from the FSNI are as follows:
Braking tests performed at the scene
Indicated Speed Braking Distance
60 mph 31 metres
80 mph 63 metres
100 mph 97 metres
120 mph 120 metres
148 mph 181 metres
I hope that clarifies your query. Cheers, Elaine
PS For any further information, I suggest you call Forensic Science Northern Ireland contact. General enquiries. 151 Belfast Road Carrickfergus Northern Ireland United Kingdom BT38 8PL. Phone: 028 9036 1888
I put a lot of thought into my reply because, like you, I think the “old” figures need to be revisited – and it’s gone. Oh well…..Thank you for your PS, anyway. I’ll contact FSNI.
Investigative Research Northern Ireland says
A lot of thought? Really? So a sentence in a report was so important to you that it required an indepth debate? A couple of observations – the purpose was to imply that speed and braking are related and the obvious is the slower the speed the less distance for braking – that seems evident for even the most pedantic. In the event – to help you overcome your issues of 2 lines in a 124 page report regarding braking distances. From the report (Motorcycle Fatalities in Northern Ireland part two) “the investigator witnessed an experienced and highly skilled PSNI (police officer) motorcyclist perform a series of braking tests on a Honda CBR1000 Fireblade motorcycle at the scene of the collision. These speeds were those indicated on the motorcycle’s speedometer and are therefore approximate”. The braking distances at different speeds are shown below in the table which highlights not only motorcycles but also cars. I think we’re done here.