Intelligent systems for improving motorcycle safety

Picture:: BMW

Riders of powered two wheel vehicles (PTWs) are at particular risk of having an accident on the roads. According to the statistics for fatalities by modes of transport of the years 1996 and 2016 the percentage of fatalities among riders of PTWs has increased by nearly 70%.

The percentage of fatalities among riders of PTWs referred to all fatalities in road traffic was in 1996 at 9.9% and rose in 2016 to 16.7%. The German Insurers Accident Research (UDV) has investigated accidents involving PTWs in a number of projects and found that, as things stand, there is little technology available for preventing or mitigating the effects of accidents involving mopeds and motorcycles. UDV therefore investigated which future developments could have a positive impact on accident statistics.

Experts talk about intelligent transport systems (ITSs) in this context. This term is used to refer to all information and communication technology systems in the road transport sector that make a significant contribution to reducing the impact of vehicles on the environment and improving efficiency and road safety For the purpose of this study, they are considered as intelligent safety systems that can, for example, exchange information with the environment in order to improve the safety of PTWs.

Taking the official accident statistics as a basis, the accidents were analysed in detail using the insurers' accident database. In the next step, conceivable intelligent safety systems were specified and the best ones were selected for each accident. The underlying accident data material from the years 2002 to 2012 consists of 1,179 accidents involving PTWs, 69% of which were motorcycles, 20% mopeds and 11% light motorcycles of 50cc to 125cc. From these accidents the main accident scenarios for PTWs were obtained. Finally, the most promising systems for PTWs were evaluated to ascertain, whether the use of ITS systems would have a positive impact on accidents involving powered two wheel vehicles and thus improve safety on the roads.

It was found that the specified ITS systems for powered two wheel vehicles are capable of having a positive effect on safety. The four most highly ranked systems address over two-thirds of all accidents. These are the intersection assistant, the curve warning assistant, the left-turn assistant and the overtaking assistant. In order to put more precise figures on the improvements in safety brought by these highly promising systems, in-depth studies are required. This applies, in particular, to single-vehicle accidents, which are underrepresented in this study.

When developing ITS systems for powered two wheel vehicles, it is crucial to devote particular attention to the human-machine interface in order, for example, to avoid distracting riders and to increase the degree to which these systems are accepted by riders. The distinctive nature of riding powered two wheel vehicles has to be taken into account, since riding a single-track vehicle is very different from driving a car.