Tag Archives: rider safety

More pressure on American helmet laws

Despite the US introducing helmet laws more than half a century ago, only 19 American states require all riders to wear helmets and now Missouri may relax their helmet laws.

A large proposed transportation bill before government includes a provision to allow riders aged 26 or more to ride without a helmet so long as they have medical insurance and proof of financial responsibility.

It is not the first time the bill has been attempted.

Missouri voted in May 2019 to repeal its helmet laws.

Governor Mike Parson vetoed the Bill in July 2019, but only because of a provision to confiscate licences of people who don’t pay fines for minor traffic offences.

The Governor had no qualms with allowing riders over 18 to decide whether they want to wear a helmet or not.

In fact, Parson supported repealing the helmet rule as a legislator.

Missouri is not the only American state considering a reversal of helmet laws. There have been several in recent years including Nebraska which last year finally rejected the idea.

American laws

crash accident helmet Sturgis insurance claim

US helmet laws were introduced in 1966 when the feds withheld 10% of states highway construction funds unless they introduced certain safety regulations, including helmet laws.

Within a decade, 47 states had complied.

But in 1975, Congress amended the Highway Safety Act to prevent the use of federal highway funding as leverage against states.

Despite evidence of helmets protecting riders form death and severe head injury, 28 states have repealed their helmet laws with more likely to follow.

It seems strange to Australian riders since we were the first nation in the world to make helmets compulsory in 1961.

Most American states introduced compulsory helmet laws in 1967, but there is a growing movement toward “more freedom” for riders with a strong civil liberties lobby actively fighting the laws.

In recent years, states such as Michigan have relaxed their helmet laws and the latest to consider the move is Tennessee, despite the overwhelming evidence that helmets save lives.


As Dudley (William H Macy) tells Woody (John Travolta) in “Wild Hogs”: “62 per cent of all motorcycle fatalities could be prevented with the use of an approved DOT helmet.”

Liberal helmet lawsWild Hogs

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for every 100 motorcyclists killed in crashes while not wearing a helmet, 37 could have been saved had they worn helmets.

Yet, the use of motorcycle helmets in the US continues to decline to about half from 71% in 2000.

So the temptation when you visit America is to try some of that freedom for yourself.

I must admit to having tried it a few times, usually at slow speeds around town, but on one occasion at the speed limit on an Indiana highway.

While I felt very vulnerable, I have to admit it was absolutely exhilarating … but also deafening.

The wind in your hair is one thing, but the wind in your ears is another.

It also blows your hat off! I’m surprised Billy in Easy Rider could ride without getting his cowboy hat blown off.

Liberal helmet lawsMotorbike Writer in Indiana

State laws

When you are again able to fly to the United States, maybe for Daytona Bike Week in March or the Sturgis Rally in August, don’t get too excited about not wearing a motorcycle helmet.

As soon as you get off the plane in California, you will have to wear a helmet to ride. In fact, 20 states, mainly on the west and east coasts of the US, have compulsory helmet laws.

American states with motorcycle helmet laws for all riders are: Alabama, California, DC, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

Only three states (Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire) have no helmet use law.

The remaining 28 states have varying laws requiring minors to wear a motorcycle helmet while six of those states require adult riders to have $10,000 in insurance and wear a helmet in their first year of riding.

About half the states also allow you to ride a low-powered motorcycle such as a 50cc bike or scooter without a helmet.

State Riders Required To Have Helmets
Alabama All riders
Alaska 17 and younger
Arizona 17 and younger
Arkansas 20 and younger
California All riders
Colorado 17 and younger and passengers 17 and younger
Connecticut 17 and younger
Delaware 18 and younger
District of Columbia All riders
Florida 20 and younger
Georgia All riders
Hawaii 17 and younger
Idaho 17 and younger
Illinois No law
Indiana 17 and younger
Iowa No law
Kansas 17 and younger
Kentucky 20 and younger
Louisiana All riders
Maine 17 and younger
Maryland All riders
Massachusetts All riders
Michigan 20 and younger
Minnesota 17 and younger
Mississippi All riders
Missouri All riders
Montana 17 and younger
Nebraska All riders
Nevada All riders
New Hampshire No law
New Jersey All riders
New Mexico 17 and younger
New York All riders
North Carolina All riders
North Dakota 17 and younger
Ohio 17 and younger
Oklahoma 17 and younger
Oregon All riders
Pennsylvania 20 and younger
Rhode Island 20 and younger
South Carolina 20 and younger
South Dakota 17 and younger
Tennessee All riders
Texas 20 and younger
Utah 17 and younger
Vermont All riders
Virginia All riders
Washington All riders
West Virginia All riders
Wisconsin 17 and younger
Wyoming 17 and younger

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

New motorcycle clothing standard (Pt 1)

Part 1 – The new European Standard EN17092.

Over the past seven years, Europe has developed a new clothing protection standard (EN17092).

We have asked Dr Chris Hurren to explain the new European standard and what it means for Aussie riders.

Dr Hurren is a research scientist at Deakin University in Geelong where he and his laboratory works on protective motorcycle clothing. He worked with Dr de Rome and others to produce the protocol that is used by MotoCAP for their testing regime.

MotoCAP senior researcher Dr Chris Hurren awardChris Hurren and his Honda GB400

This is the first in a four-part series explaining the new standard and what you will see in store.

New standard

Increasing numbers of motorcycle garments are appearing in our stores labelled as being certified to a new standard – EN17092 or sometimes to Directive 89/686/EEC.

Australian and New Zealand riders are likely to see a lot more gear with this labelling on it. What is going on? How can riders interpret the five-level classification system of this new standard?

Many riders would be aware of the European standards for motorcycle protective clothing, including EN13595 for motorcycle jackets and pants.

Although in force for almost 20 years, until recently few manufacturers were submitting their garments for CE certification because the standards were not enforced in Europe.

That situation changed in April 2019 when the European Commission made it mandatory for all motorcycle clothing sold in Europe to be independently tested for CE certification.

In response to industry pressure, a new standard for motorcycle jackets and pants was developed (EN17092 1:2020) which allows for a wider range of protective performance than those of the original standard EN13595.

The two standards will operate in parallel until 2023, but many manufacturers are already choosing to work to the new standard.

There is much debate amongst manufacturers that the original European Standard EN13595 was set too high.

It was developed back in the days when leather was king and street clothing had not even been thought of. Most companies did not produce clothing that complied with it because it was not easy to achieve.

Now we appear to have the opposite with a standard that is set quite low with most products already in the market passing it.

A low standard will see everything certified but is this an advantage or disadvantage to riders?

Click here for the next article which explains the different levels of the standard.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

New motorcycle clothing standard (Pt 2)

Part 2 – The new levels of the standard.

Over the past seven years, Europe has developed a new clothing protection standard (EN17092).

We have asked Dr Chris Hurren to explain the new European standard and what it means for Aussie riders.

Dr Hurren is a research scientist at Deakin University in Geelong where he and his laboratory works on protective motorcycle clothing. He worked with Dr de Rome and others to produce the protocol that is used by MotoCAP for their testing regime.

MotoCAP senior researcher Dr Chris Hurren awardChris Hurren and his Honda GB400

Clothing standard: Levels

This is the second in a four-part series explaining the new levels. Click here for part 1.

The new standard EN17092 specifies the testing protocols for the required protection levels for five classes of garment.

  • AAA – Heavy duty protective garments
  • AA – Medium duty protective garments
  • A – Light duty protective garments
  • B – Light-duty abrasion protection garments (no armour)
  • C – Impact protector ensemble garments

Class AAA garments are designed to be most protective with the highest requirements for impact abrasion, tear and seam strength. Class AA have a lesser requirement for abrasion, tear and seam strength. Class A has the lowest requirements for protection with abrasion measurement only being required for the zone 1 and 2 areas. The Class B garments have the same requirements as Class A but do not have to be fitted with armour. Class C garments are armour-only garments such as off-road protection vests or knee braces. Class AA and AAA must be fitted with armour in the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. Class A garments also must have armour in the shoulders, elbows and knees however the fitting of hip armour is optional. If the armour is not in the garments hanging in the store ask the salesperson for them as they are meant to be there.

EN17092 covers the same range of factors as those in EN13595, including impact abrasion resistance, seam tensile strength, fabric tear strength, impact energy absorption of armour, restraint system effectiveness and the positioning of protective components. It also outlines that the garment should be tested for materials innocuous to ensure that there are no harmful chemicals present and no running dyes. Tear strength, ergonomics, restraint and armour testing are the same as were in the previous standard EN13595 whereas impact abrasion resistance, seam strength and risk zones are now measured and defined in a new way. Each of the new methods are detailed in the three other parts of this series.

As you read the last two parts you may ask yourself is this standard set high enough? The biggest concern with a low standard is that manufacturers will build to it. An example of this would be why put a para-aramid layer into protective denim pants when the right denim by itself will achieve the “Class A or AA” rating. It costs less to manufacture and while it is not the highest rating it is still achieving certification. It is evident from the changing quality of garments in Australian and New Zealand stores, that a number of manufacturers are already doing this and it is not just limited to denim. Unfortunately change in this space is slow with riders replacing their gear infrequently so it will take a number of years before any reduction in protection would show as increased injury numbers.

Motocap Motorcycle clothing rating system launched target canstar choose textile pants covert secretiveMotocap ratings

The best step forward for riders is to be careful in what you buy. Use common sense, advice from other riders and tools such as MotoCAP to help you make the right choice. Remember if the product feels too thin or seems too good to be true then it is probably not protective. Be especially wary of “Class A” rated garments. As riders, we can show manufacturers that products with reduced safety levels are not acceptable by not buying them. This movement has already been seen in the UK where riders are avoiding the thin single-layer denim jeans because they just don’t feel safe in them.

The next article looks at the differences in impact abrasion resistance measurement.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

New motorcycle clothing standard (Pt 3)

Part 3 – Impact abrasion resistance.

Over the past seven years, Europe has developed a new clothing protection standard (EN17092).

We have asked Dr Chris Hurren to explain the new European standard and what it means for Aussie riders.

Dr Hurren is a research scientist at Deakin University in Geelong where he and his laboratory works on protective motorcycle clothing. He worked with Dr de Rome and others to produce the protocol that is used by MotoCAP for their testing regime.

Dr Chris Hurren explains use of one of the uni’s testing machines ratingsDr Hurren with a clothing testing machine

This is the third in a four-part series explaining the new method of impact abrasion resistance measurement. Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Clothing standard: Abrasion resistance

The biggest difference in EN17092 is that it utilises the Advanced Abrasion Resistance Tester (AART) more commonly known as the Darmstadt method for evaluating the impact abrasion resistance of garment materials at specified riding speeds.

This test machine was developed 30 years ago at Technische Universitat Darmstadt. A short video was created by the university to show the test:

The test is a rotary system with three arms spinning around a drive shaft above a 900mm diameter concrete test surface. Material samples are attached to test heads at the end of each arm which are spun up to the test speed at 10mm above the test surface.

On reaching test speed, the drive shaft disconnects allowing the spinning arms and fabric samples to drop spinning freely in contact with the abrasive surface until they stop.

The test is given a pass at the given test speed if there are no holes formed in any of the three samples. A hole is deemed a hole if it is greater than 5mm in diameter. Test starting speeds are 120, 75, 70, 45 and 25km/h.

Darmstadt clothing standardOriginal Darmstadt test machine (Image: SKL – automotive engineering)

As this test starts at a high speed and slows to a stop over the duration of the test it may appear to riders to be more realistic than the Cambridge impact abrasion method (CAM), which is carried out at a constant speed. Unfortunately there is very little information available on the test machine or method especially in relation to validating the performance of the test against crash damage to clothing in real world crashes. The test surface used is concrete and is not designed to be periodically replaced, which suggests the surface may lose it abrasiveness over time. The surface is also prepared to resemble asphalt which is predominately used in urban environments. The question must be raised as to how representative is it of the chip seal roads that make up the majority of Australia’s rural and other higher speed road network.

While the use of specific test speeds in the AART is intuitively appealing, there are valid questions as to whether it does test for all riding environments. Research needs to show that the AART test covers all riding and is not just aimed at low speed urban riders. There are many questions yet unanswered. Is the test surface abrasive enough? Will the test surface clog during testing? Does it polish and become less aggressive over time? How do the test results relate to actual road injury? These really need to be answered about the test method to give riders confidence in its results.

At Deakin we have made simple comparisons between the CAM and AART tests with a piece of 12oz denim similar to that found in a pair of Levis 501 jeans. Samples were sent and tested on two AART machines in Europe. On both AART machines the denim passed the 75km/h test speed. On the CAM it achieved 0.6 seconds equating to approximately 5 metres of slide distance. This would mean that if the other parameters such as seam strength and tear were adequate a pair of the same jeans with armour in the knees and hips could meet “Class AA“ certification. While this might be enough protection for a scooter rider in a 20km/h crash how would it fair in a crash on any of our iconic riding roads?

The last part of this series will look at seam strength testing and changes to the risk zone template.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

New motorcycle clothing standard (Pt 4)

Part 4 – Seam strength and risk zones.

Over the past seven years, Europe has developed a new clothing protection standard (EN17092).

We have asked Dr Chris Hurren to explain the new European standard and what it means for Aussie riders.

Dr Hurren is a research scientist at Deakin University in Geelong where he and his laboratory works on protective motorcycle clothing. He worked with Dr de Rome and others to produce the protocol that is used by MotoCAP for their testing regime.

MotoCAP senior researcher Dr Chris HurrenDr Chris Hurren

This is the final in a four-part series explaining the new method for seam strength and new template for risk zones. Click here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Clothing standard: Seam strength

Seam strength of jackets and pants under EN17902 is tested using the same method as used for gloves in the European Standards for motorcycle gloves – EN13594. The test involves pulling a seam apart using a tensile testing machine and measuring the force it takes for the break to occur. The failure mechanism of this test is slightly different to that of the hydraulic burst method used in EN13595 for jackets and pants, so manufacturers have had to change some seam styles to achieve a pass. Significant comparison testing done with other published garment research has shown that there is a reasonable relationship between the two tests and that the newly set pass criteria appears to be fit for purpose. The introduction of EN 17092 should see improved seams appearing in garments getting Class AAA ratings as these seam strengths are relatively high. As the majority of motorcycle clothing on the market has previously not been certified for seam strength achieving this standard should see an improvement in seams.

The other big change introduced into EN17092 is the modification of the injury risk zones from the well know four zone system developed by Dr Woods into a new three zone system.

Zone 1 is defined as an area of high risk of damage such as to impact, abrasion and tearing (figure 1 a). This is still the location of impact protectors and higher performing protective materials. Zone 2 is defined as an area of moderate risk of damage to abrasion and tearing (figure 1b). Zone 3 is classed as an area of low risk to damage such as tearing.

It is unclear why the standard has downgraded the higher risk to abrasion areas of the buttocks, sides of the leg and parts of the arm. This appears to be contrary to scientific consensus validated by research both in Australia and abroad that show these areas to be of a high risk. An example of this is the Class AAA garment requirements for abrasion. The very small zone 1 area must meet the 120km/h AART test speed whereas the bulk of the body that is identified as zone 2 must achieve 75km/h. This is similar with the Class AA garment where the Zone 1 area must meet 70km/h and the Zone 2 area 45km/h. Considering that a piece of denim can achieve 75km/h this means that the minimum abrasion protection levels of the bulk of the Class AAA garment is relatively low and the Class AA even lower.


Images showing the new three Zone system (EN17092:2020)

There is also a different risk zone template for the AAA garment compared to the other garments. This increases the Zone 1 area for abrasion and tearing risk to cover some of the buttocks and crotch area. While this is an improvement in providing protection for some of the higher risk areas of the lower body it does not cover all the previously well-defined risks. It is also unclear why this injury risk is only present in the AAA garments and not in any of the other garment classes.

Hopefully this article has helped you to better understand the new standard. Enjoy your ride.

Click here for Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Alpinestars gloves score top safety rating

Alpinestars GP Plus R2 motorcycle gloves (pictured) have become only the second pair of gloves to be awarded a full five stars for safety by MotoCAP.

The internationally awarded safety and thermal comfort ratings system for motorcycle clothing has added 15 more gloves to its list of tested gear.

The Australian safety intitiative, launched in September 2018, is the first of its type in the world.

It has now rated 201 items of clothing, including 50 pairs of pants, 90 jackets and 61 pairs of gloves.

Of those gloves, only the Alpinestars costing $225 and Ducati Corse C3 ($442) – both racing-style gloves – have scored a full five stars.

Ducati Corse C3 glovesDucati Corse C3 gloves

Only three others scored four stars, five got three stars, 20 received two stars, 23 got one star and the rest were awarded just half a star.

No comfort ratings

While MotoCAP also supplies thermal comfort and waterproofing on jackets and pants, it does not provide a comfort rating for gloves.

That is despite some of the gloves tested having perforations for airflow.

However, they do test for waterproofing.

Comfort is a big factor among baby boomers when selecting gloves, according to a Canstar Blue customer satisfaction survey that also found Millennial riders buy for style.

Transport for NSW says that to measure for comfort a large square of fabric must be obtained.

“There is not enough material in a glove to obtain a sample for the thermal comfort measure,” they say.

All gear rated so far has been obtained through a secretive buying system to guarantee integrity.

Click here to find out how products are selected for rating in secret.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

How motorcycles can safely overtake trucks

Passing long trucks can be easy for motorcycles with their rapid rate of acceleration, but there are several dangers you can encounter when you overtake a truck.

Here are our four safety tips for passing a truck.

1 Beware the blind spots

Goldwing Facebook page warning photo

When passing a truck, you need to be aware that they have a lot of blind spots that can swallow a small motorcycle.

The Goldwing World Facebook page published the photograph above warning of the extent of these blind spots claiming that all the bikes in the photo are in the truck’s blind spots.

Note that the photo is American, so the positions are reversed for left-hand-drive countries.

Remember, not all trucks, buses and other big vehicles are the same. Fixed vehicles such as vans and buses/coaches have different blind spots to B doubles or prime movers with trailers. There are also extra blind spots for trucks with hoods (eg Mack) rather than cab-over trucks (eg Hino) with flat fronts.

For fixed vehicles, the worst blind spot is close on the inside (left in RHD countries and right for LHD countries) of the vehicle. Most heavy vehicles have blind-spot mirrors, but fast-accelerating bikes can zoom into view so quickly on a slow-moving vehicle, the driver may not have had a chance to see them.

Prime movers also have the problem that when they turn, their mirrors, which are fixed to the prime mover, show only a view of the trailer on one side and a wide view on the other, creating a massive blind spot area.

For trucks like Mack with a big bonnet, almost everywhere from the mirrors forward is a blind spot, especially by the inside fender. Drivers say riders can slip into the gap in front of a truck without them seeing the bike, which could result in a rear-ender as they approach a red traffic light.

2 Overtake quickly

Motorcycles accelerate quickly so passing a truck can only take a couple of seconds.

Despite it being illegal to speed, I always overtake quickly to spend as little time beside the truck as possible.

The above video was recorded in 2016 on the Logan Motorway in Brisbane, but it could happen anywhere.

Just look at the amount of truck tyre debris on our roads. Any one of those tyre blowouts could easily have claimed the life of a rider.

When passing a truck, it’s probably better to risk a speeding fine and ride by quickly than to sit alongside, or if a truck decides to overtake you on a multi-lane road, either speed up or slow down.

Also, take a wide berth by moving into the furthest wheel track of the adjacent lane.

Be aware that the rear trailer on a road train can suddenly wag sideways by a couple of metres.

Road safety crash accident motorcycle overtake
Way too close!

3 Prepare for the blast

Trucks have a lot of wind resistance creating “dirty air” or turbulence that can unsettle a small motorcycle at highway speed.

The worst are not the closed-in trailers, but open trailers such as car carriers and livestock trailers. (Another tip: Don’t follow livestock trailers too closely unless you want to be showered in sh*t!)

Closed-in trailers tend to create “still air” as you pass, then you suddenly get hit by a blast of wind.

So be prepared as you pass, lean forward, hold on tight and power through.

Lane position automated vehicles tailgater blowout
Riders steer clear of trucks

4 Don’t cut in

Don’t cut into the truck’s lane as soon as you pass.

For a start they may not see you and drive right over the top of you at the next set of traffic lights.

Also, if you have to brake suddenly, the truck will have a lot less stopping power than you and will simply drive straight over the top of your motorcycle.

5 Show courtesy

They are bigger than you and they deserve respect.

Also, if you show a little courtesy, truckies will show some back. Many even flash their indicators to show you when it is safe to pass.

That’s handy as they have a high view and can see a lot further ahead.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

MotoGP airbag vest for everyday riders

Last year MotoGP made airbag race suits mandatory and now Dainese has produced an airbag vest for everyday riders that goes under a normal jacket.

Versatile vest

Many riders have different jackets for summer and winter.

It would be expensive to buy an airbag jacket for each season, so this idea of an airbag vest underneath seems handy for those who want extra protection.Dainese airbag vest

However, we wonder just how baggy your jacket would need to be to accommodate the vest.

Not only do you have to fit the vest under you jacket, but also allow enough room for if/when it inflates!

The extra layer could defeat the purpose of a ventilated summer jacket, but it is ventilated.

We wonder how it might limit movement, but Dainese says it is light and flexible.

It’s not cheap at $US699 and replacement components after it has deployed will add to the cost.

Although what price do you put on safety?Dainese airbag vest

Dainese says the airbag vest is seven times more protective than the usual back protector.

The vest is also waterproof and abrasion resistant.

How it worksDainese airbag vest

The vest uses seven sensors including GPS, accelerometers and gyroscopes to detect a crash such as low and high-sides, collisions and even being hit from behind when stopped at the lights.

All that tech depletes the batteries which need t be recharged after 26 hours of use.

After it’s exploded, you then have to take it back to the shop to get a new airbag system. Apparently fitting is a quick operation.

It arrives soon in six sizes for men and women.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Watch as Volvo driver blasts by rider

This video of a Volvo driver blasting through a rider’s buffer zone to undertake traffic on a multi-lane road is a good example of how frustrated motorists are a danger to riders.

Canberra rider Alistaire Foard was riding home on his 2018 Yamaha MT-07, on Gungahlin Drive, when the incident happened.

The video shows he is doing a responsible and cautious job of owning his lane yet leaving a buffer from the right lane, keeping a safe distance from vehicles in front and frequently checking his mirrors.

But no amount of defensive riding could have prepared him for the Volvo driver’s tailgating and dangerous undertaking manoeuvre.

It was probably caused by the driver’s frustration with discourteous right-lane traffic that didn’t move to the left.

Volvo incident

“The Volvo came up very fast in the right lane behind the red hatchback,” Alistaire says.

“The right lane started to slow down and then he came in behind me quite close as seen in the rear vision mirror.

“We were in an 80km/h zone in traffic but it was flowing quite well.

“I slowed after the Volvo came in behind me because the red hatchback also put their indicator on to merge but I guess I was too close for them to do so.

“The Volvo dropped back a little and came past in the right hand lane when there was a gap but he left it a bit late in my opinion and had to cut in front of me very close.

“I didn’t see any indicator on the Volvo when he passed and actually thought he would stay in the right lane because the gap between myself and the green car was closing as the traffic sped back up to 80km/h.”

Alistaire’s Yamaha

Alistaire was lucky he was not knocked off the road.

The dangerous passing manoeuvre was to no avail, anyway, as Alistaire caught up with the Volvo at the next set of red lights.

It could have escalated into road rage, but Alistaire kept a cool head.

“We exchanged some dirty looks, but nothing else,” he says.

“I thought his driving was really aggressive, especially considering the time of day and traffic flow.”

Cautious rider

Alistaire says he is “a little hesitant” on a motorbike these days as he wrote off his 2014 Ducati Monster 659 in November and needed surgery on a badly broken wrist.

“So I tend to stick to the left lane and keep a decent gap to the vehicle in front,” he says.

“I am not saying I am a perfect rider but his driving was unnecessary and dangerous.”

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com