Analyzing motorcyclist reaction times

Many of the motorcyclists riding around Monmouth most likely feel as though their riding skills are sufficient to help them to avoid potentially fatal accidents. However, every year thousands of motorcyclists who probably shared the same belief are killed on America’s roads. Data shared by The Insurance Institute for High Safety shows that of the 542 fatal vehicle accidents that occurred in 2013, over 10 percent involved motorcyclists.

What many motorcyclists fail to understand is that dangerous scenarios on the road leave them little time to react in order to avoid colliding with over vehicles or capsizing their bikes. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration undertook a study in which participants were asked to face several real world scenarios in a simulated environment while riding a motorcycle. Among the many objectives of the study was to see measure the reaction time needed to avoid a motorcycle accident. The scenarios presented included:

  •          A tractor-trailer pulling out onto the street in front of a rider
  •          A vehicle running a red light at an intersection to which a rider was approaching
  •          A vehicle directly in front of a rider slowing to make a right turn

The force required to stop one’s bike to avoid an accident was measured in units of deceleration (meters/seconds squared, or g). In the right turn scenario, 0.1 g of braking was required to avoid  closing in too quickly on the turning car. The red light scenario required 0.5 g to avoid a collision, while the tractor-trailer scenario required 0.7 g².

These numbers seem to indicate that even skilled riders would lack the reaction times needed to avoid accidents which could result in serious injuries or even death. Thus, the need for defensive driving while on a motorcycle seemingly cannot be overlooked. 

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