Effectiveness of Motorcycle Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) in Reducing Crashes, the First Cross-National Study
Journal article, 2015
Objectives: This study set out to evaluate the effectiveness of motorcycle antilock braking systems (ABS) in reducing real-life crashes. Since the European Parliament has voted on legislation making ABS mandatory on all new motorcycles over 125 cc from 2016, the fitment rate in Europe is likely to increase in the coming years. Though previous research has focused on mostly large displacement motorcycles, this study used police reports from Spain (2006-2009), Italy (2009), and Sweden (2003-2012) in order to analyze a wide range of motorcycles, including scooters, and compare countries with different motorcycling habits. Methods: The statistical analysis used odds ratio calculations with an induced exposure approach. Previous research found that head-on crashes were the least ABS-affected crash type and was therefore used as the nonsensitive crash type for ABS in these calculations. The same motorcycle models, with and without ABS, were compared and the calculations were carried out for each country separately. Crashes involving only scooters were further analyzed. Results: The effectiveness of motorcycle ABS in reducing injury crashes ranged from 24% (95% confidence interval [CI], 12-36) in Italy to 29% (95% CI, 20-38) in Spain, and 34% (95% CI, 16-52) in Sweden. The reductions in severe and fatal crashes were even greater, at 34% (95% CI, 24-44) in Spain and 42% (95% CI, 23-61) in Sweden. The overall reductions of crashes involving ABS-equipped scooters (at least 250 cc) were 27% (95% CI, 12-42) in Italy and 22% (95% CI, 2-42) in Spain. ABS on scooters with at least a 250 cc engine reduced severe and fatal crashes by 31% (95% CI, 12-50), based on Spanish data alone. Conclusions: At this stage, there is more than sufficient scientific-based evidence to support the implementation of ABS on all motorcycles, even light ones. Further research should aim at understanding the injury mitigating effects of motorcycle ABS, possibly in combination with combined braking systems.