The latest figures show that road safety is not really improving in Europe; since 2013 the number of casualties is not declining anymore and 2016 even showed a rise in both fatalities and serious injuries.
Road safety is not seen as an important subject in Brussels’ circles and especially not road safety for motorcyclists and users of other powered two-wheeler like mopeds. Even during the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on 6 April 2018, about ‘Improving global road safety’. motorcycles got little or no attention and in the final resolution only a few lines were devoted to it.
With this I’m not telling you anything new, I suppose. Motorcycle safety is not high on the agenda. For many policy makers motorcyclist are a rare breed that use smelly and loud machines for their leisure. And indeed, many of us use our bikes for leisure, but we still need protection on the road. And for many others, the motorcycle – or often scooter – is their daily means of transport. Often out of necessity, for financial reasons, or because public transport does not provide the daily mobility requirements. Or because with a car you lose too much time in traffic. Or maybe because you just like riding and prefer a motorcycle to a car or public transport. Whatever the reason or the motivation, motorcyclists need – and have a right to – as much safety as all other road users.
Over the last weeks, road safety is suddenly mentioned more than we are used too. The reason? The new General Safety Regulation and the new Pedestrian Safety Regulation that will be published on the 14th of May 2018. These regulations are important for car makers; it tells them for example what safety features are necessary on cars in the near future. Items in the present regulation are electronic stability systems, automatic emergency breaking systems and lane departure warning systems for trucks and buses. And when legislation is important for car manufacturers, it is almost always important for everybody and certainly for motorcyclists.
Let’s see what the new laws will bring us. In an extensive report, ordered by the European Commission, 55 measures were identified for possible inclusion in the revised General Safety and Pedestrian Safety Regulations. In a report by the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council this list has been reduced to a list of 18 measures to be included in the revised General Safety and Pedestrian Safety Regulations. To give you an idea, I will just list all the proposed measures. In vehicle categorisation, motorcycles belong to the L-category vehicles, vehicles to transport persons belong to the M category, goods vehicles to N and trailers to the O category.
- Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) with Moving Obstacle Detection for cars (M1) and vans (N1 (derived from cars))
- Emergency Braking Display
- Intelligent Speed Adaptation
- Lane Keep Assistance: for cars (M1) and vans (N1 (derived from cars))
- Driver Drowsiness and Distraction Monitoring: for cars (M1) and vans (N1 (derived from cars)), busses (M2, M3) and (heavy) goods vehicles (N2 and N3)
- Safety Belt Reminders
- Frontal Crash Full Width Test: for cars (M1) and vans (N1)
- Side Crash elimination of exemptions: for cars (M1) and vans (N1)
- Side Crash Pole Side Impact: for cars (M1) and vans (N1)
- Rear Crash Test: for cars (M1) and vans (N1)
- Alcohol Interlock Devices interface
- Crash Event Data Recorder: for cars (M1) and vans (N1)
- Tyre Pressure Monitoring, all vehicles except small trailers
- Truck and Bus Front End Cameras and Detection: busses (M2, M3) and (heavy) goods vehicles (N2 and N3)
- Truck Lateral Protection elimination of exemptions: (heavy) goods vehicles (N2 and N3)
- Fire Safety for CNG Buses: (M2 and M3)
- Fire Suppression for Buses: (M2 and M3)
- Reversing Detection: all vehicles except small trailers.
You will notice that no measures are foreseen for motorcycles. Still, the revised General Safety and Pedestrian Safety Regulations are important for motorcyclists as well: several proposed measures are meant to enhance the safety of motorcyclists. To add to this, the European Parliament wrote its own report, and the members of the European parliament listened to us. As was to be expected, the focus when vulnerable road users are mentioned (the road users that are not protected by a cage, like people in cars) is on pedestrians and cyclists.
‘The European Parliament adopted our demand that automatic emergency braking assistants on cars should also detect motorcyclists.’
However, motorcyclists are mentioned as well and the European Parliament adopted our demand that automatic emergency braking assistants on cars should also detect motorcyclists. The European Parliament also asks for safer crash barriers, especially for motorcyclists and demands standardisation measures to remedy the drawbacks of the existing barriers. Another important issue for motorcyclists is the enhancement of direct vision for heavy goods vehicles and buses and the development of standards for this. Next is the improved energy-absorbing front underrun protection for new trucks and protection of vulnerable road users in front and rear impacts. Lastly the European Parliament wants eCall for motorcycles. This is something the European Commission is already working on, but a well-working and reliable system without false calls, is not developed yet.
Mid May 2018 the final revised General Safety and Pedestrian Safety Regulations will be published. We do not know yet what it will bring. Detection of motorcycles by Automatic Emergency Braking systems was not mentioned in the report, but was explicitly asked for by the European Parliament. Better and safer underrun, rear and front collision protection and better direct vision standards will almost certain be part of the reviewed regulations. Road infrastructure (safer crash barriers) is not in the scope of the General Safety and Pedestrian Safety Regulations, but some inclusion of this would be a good thing. Finally, eCall for motorcycles is also out of the scope of the General Safety and Pedestrian Safety Regulations, but this is already on the agenda of the European Commission.
Written by Dolf Willigers.