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Posts Tagged ‘Safety-Conscious’

ginza-3Gravity is more of a nuisance than a law until the day you go flying off your motorcycle.  Then the landing hurts!

Three years ago I was on an extended trip in Tokyo, Japan.  I had a fair bit of time for shopping and remember running across motorcycle riding apparel which incorporated technological advancements for safety.  It was no ordinary riding apparel.  The jacket included an air bag shock buffering system which provided protection for the neck, back, hip and torso.  All of this in a department store that included routine groceries!

I did a quick yen-to-dollar conversion and remember thinking wow it’s pricey, but still tried on the jacket.  I immediately had more sales help than I could neither understand or wanted, but do recall the fit being comfortable before putting it back on the rack.  I grabbed a product flyer and made a mental note to contact the company when I returned home.  The airbag jacket was not approved for use in the U.S. as they were processing regulatory approval.  Since that trip a number of airbag jackets have made their way to the U.S. market.  One notable is the Hit-Air system. The idea of using a type of “air bag” for motorcycle apparel has been around for a long time and while early versions were bulky and hot that is no longer the case.

apc_helmetNow comes another technological advancement.  An airbag-equipped helmet from APC Systems.  The helmet features a collar-shaped airbag incorporated into a standard motorcycle helmet. Inflation of the airbag occurs without cables or other physical elements linking the rider to the motorcycle. A small control box fitted under the motorcycle’s seat is synchronized wirelessly with the helmet.  Depending on any outside stimulus the determination algorithms tell the helmet to inflate in less than 15 hundredths of a second.

The technological advancements in motorcycle design have in some cases exceeded the skills of riders.   I believe this is one of many reasons for an increase in motorcycle accidents.  With ordinary helmets or riding apparel very little separates you after gravity kicks in from the pavement other than leather or maybe some ballistics textile. An air bag shock buffering system and an air bag equipped helmet might just be the protection devices mandated by the government in the future.

Interested in more?  Give the web sites a look.  The APC site includes high speed camera footage of various scooter accidents which help visualize air bag deployment during point of impact.  If you can watch those and not get a little queasy then more power to you.

APC photo courtesy of web site.

 

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On occasion I’ve used this blog as a method of outreach to foster and/or promote motorcycle safety.  Full disclosure here — I don’t work for any motorcycle group, the MSF or a state agency, but I do try and represent concerns relating to motorcycle safety and help bring a “voice” to interested parties.

Did you know that motorcycle crashes in Oregon have risen from 443 in 2002 to 736 in 2006? There were 51 motorcyclist fatalities in 2007; 200 motorcyclists have died from 2002 to 2007. Oregon’s motorcycle fatalities are higher than they have been for 20 years.  I’ve written previously on motorcycle safety HEREHERE and on alcohol related accidents HERE

To help address motorcyclist fatalities the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety (GAC-MS) was commissioned and consists of members appointed by the Governor from throughout the state. This committee is charged with the responsibility to advise the Governor and the Transportation Safety Division of ODOT on motorcycle safety. They developed the 2008 Safety Strategic Plan which has the following 6 objectives along with a number of tactics to help decrease motorcycle fatalities:

  1. During 2008, the GAC-MS will hold public “listening” meetings not only in Salem but also around the state in the Portland, Ashland, Bend and Medford areas.
  2. Provide motorcycle operator training to all who need or seek it; increase motorcyclists’ knowledge of methods to increase their safety on the road, including awareness of hazards, motorcycle operating techniques, and conspicuity.
  3. Reduce crashes in which motorcyclists are impaired by alcohol or other drugs.
  4. Ensure that all motorcycle operators riding on public roads are properly licensed.
  5. Increase motorists’ awareness of the presence of motorcycles on the road.
  6. Education, Enforcement, Engineering and EMS issues pertaining to motorcycles will be identified.

View the full strategic plan is HERE (PDF file).

If you have an opinion or want to voice any concerns there are meetings planned on October 19th and November 21st.  The next two meetings are:

Sunday, October 19th at 4:00PM
7 Feathers Center, 146 Chief Miwaleta Lane, Canyonville, OR 97417

and

Friday, November 21st at 6:30PM 
Transportation Safety Division Office, 235 Union Street NE , OR 97301

If you can’t attend the meetings send written input to –

Michele O’Leary
ODOT Motorcycle Safety Program Manager
Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety
235 Union Street NE
Salem, OR 97301-1054
Email

Image courtesy of Texas Department of Safety.

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1939 National Safety Ad

1939 National Safety Ad

If you type Harley-Davidson motorcycle accidents into Google you’ll get about 180,000 hits.  Thousands of the hits are motorcycle accident lawyers “hawking services”, attorney blogs evangelizing the merits of taking irresponsible drivers to court or injury sites masquerading as “free advice” backed by an attorney who wants another client for that once-in-a-lifetime “lottery” product liability case.  Gives the legal industry a bad rap.

No one wants accidents to happen and my sincere condolences to the family and friends in all these accidents.  I use the word accident loosely because too often there is nothing the motorcyclist does or did incorrectly to contribute to the incident.  Here is the latest report from around the area:

  1. 09/15/08 – Motorcycle vs. Vehicle Injury In Clark County
  2. 09-05-08 – Fatal Motorcycle Crash on I-5
  3. 09/02/08 – Motorcycle Crash 500 block of N. 8th Street in Lakeside, Coos County.
  4. 08/01/08 – Motorcycle Operator Dies from Injuries Sustained in 7/29/08 Crash near Canby
  5. 07/29/08 – Critical Injury Motorcycle Crash – Highway 99W south of Canby
  6. 07/20/08 – Fatal Traffic Crash – Highway 11 at Athena Junction
  7. 07/12/08 – Fatal Traffic Crash – Highway 730 near Boardman
  8. 07/02/08 – Serious Injury Motorcycle Crash – Highway 20W near Santiam Pass Summit

I’ve previously blogged on Oregon accidents HERE (April-June), reported on Senior Drivers HERE and reported on alcohol related motorcycle accidents HERE.

I personally reject and am against government intrusion on a regular basis, but I would support the idea of mandatory first time endorsement training like taking the Team Oregon safety course.

Ride smart and sober!

Poster art work photo taken at and courtesy of HD Museum.

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I got a report back from some of the guys who did a ride out on the coast last Saturday and were on Hwy 26 just East of Elsie. As it was relayed to me…

…a large group of bikes were heading out (appeared together) when traffic came to a sudden stop.  The lead bikes stopped, those in the middle did not… starting a chain reaction crash.  Bikes were hitting the ditch, crashing into one another and bodies flying.  We were close enough to see bodies rolling past our riding group who were East bound, but fortunately none came into the East bound lane creating an accident for us.  We stopped and slowed the on-coming traffic to avoid more wrecks.  Most of the bikers got up, walked away, and picked up their bikes.  A couple (guy/gal) needed medical attention and waited for an ambulance…Eastwood quote

It’s discouraging when summer weather brings out all the motorcycles and then we learn about increasing accidents…especially accidents that are preventable like this one.  I wasn’t there and don’t know all the circumstances, but there can’t be many reasons for bikers following close and having inadequate time to react/stop.

With just a little investigation I found a lot of motorcycle accidents in Oregon during the past 3 months. Visit the Oregon State Police (OSP) site and you’ll see what I mean.  No, I don’t work in a personal injury law-firm that handles motorcycle accidents, but if you go to the site and read through some of the accident information you’ll obviously note that any rider is just asking for trouble when you ride a motorcycle – on the freeway at 164 mph or a city street – at speeds anywhere near 100 mph.

It’s somewhat morbid, but in the interest to make people STOP and THINK the below list is information that I was able to scrub off the OSP data base for the last 3 months:

  1. 06/28/2008 – Truck Loses Load of Hay Resulting in Critical Injury of Motorcyclist
  2. 06/25/2008 – Motorcyclist Injured Avoiding Deer on H-97 / Safety Reminders about Wildlife on Highways (1992 HD)
  3. 06/20/2008 – Portland man arrested following high speed Motorcycle pursuit in Eugene area
  4. 06/19/2008 – Serious Injury Motorcycle / Dump Trailer Crash – O’Neil Highway east of Redmond
  5. 06/15/2008 – Fatal Traffic (Motorcycle) Crash – H-101 near Winchester Bay (2007 HD)
  6. 06/14/2008 – Double Fatal Motorcycle Crash – Highway 97 south of Biggs Junction (2003 HD)
  7. 05/27/2008 – Fatal Traffic Crash – Highway 229 north of Siletz (1999 Honda)
  8. 05/18/2008 – Woman Dies in Motorcycle Crash North of Florence
  9. 04/18/2008 – Service Station Attendant’s Call Helps OSP Find and Arrest Eluding Motorcyclist (1992 Suzuki)
  10. 04/17/2008 – Eugene Man Arrested for Reckless Driving; Camera Shows Speeds up to 164 MPH (2007 Honda CBR)
  11. 04/12/2008 – Fatal Traffic Crash – SW Culver Highway in Madras (1981 Honda)
  12. 04/12/2008 – Fatal Traffic Crash – Highway 101 north of Florence (2007 Baron 150cc)
  13. 04/11/2008 – Fatal Motorcycle Crash – Parkway Road near Jasper in Lane County (1997 Honda)

As motorcycle riders we are all aware of the inherent dangers and risks that we take when we head out to enjoy a good ride. These dangers and risks become all too apparent when we are faced with situations like some of my fellow riders did this past weekend who came upon the accident in Elsie. 

If you’re feeling a little unsure, a great way to start out the riding season is to take an MSF course which is an intensive two or three day classroom and riding course supervised by expert riders. Or if you’re a veteran be a life-long learner and take a refresher course.

Ride safe and be careful out there!

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