If the National Transportation Safety Board has their way, all motorcycles in Maryland and across America will come with some heretofore unseen accessories: anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. The NTSB recently held a vote on the topic, and the results were unanimous, with all present board members voting in favor of the proposal.
This doesn’t mean that all new motorcycles will automatically have these key safety features, or even that they’ll be available in the next model year (or two). This is because of the hierarchy of interwoven administrative bodies that actually govern motor vehicles manufactured and sold in our country. The results of the vote are now passed along to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the agency that actually has the power to pass regulations like these.
As part of its public hearing on the issue, the NTSB presented data from another government safety organization, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, showing that, in 2016 alone (the most recent year for which records are publicly available), nearly 5,300 motorcyclists died in crashes. NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt argued that studies show motorcycle fatalities will reduce by 31 percent with anti-lock brakes becoming mandatory. The impact of electronic stability control could further reduce deadly motorcycle crashes, just as it has for vehicles over the years, but figures aren’t readily available about the actual number of accidents affected.
Currently, only 8.9 percent of America’s motorcycles have standard anti-lock brakes, and they are only available as an option on 13.3 percent. NTSB data shows that motorcycles are definitively the deadliest way to travel in America: motorcycles travel less than one percent of all vehicle miles traveled annually, but motorcyclists make up 14 percent of all accident fatalities.