Report numberRA-2005-66
TitleSafety enhancing vehicle technology for motorized two-wheelers
SubtitleOverview, description and technical aspects of vehicle technology that enhances the safety of drivers of motorized two-wheelers
AuthorsTobias Denys
Published byPolicy Research Centre for Traffic Safety 2002-2006
Number of pages41
Document languageDutch
Partner(s)Vlaamse Instelling voor Technologisch Onderzoek
Work packageOther: Vehicle technology

Drivers of powered two-wheelers in Belgium, like in most other countries, belong to the most vulnerable group of road users. In Flanders, the mortality rate for motorcyclists in accidents is the second highest of all road users. Besides education, behavior, infrastructure, … also motorcycle technology could play an important role in increasing the safety of motorcyclists. This report tries to give an overview of safety increasing vehicle technology for powered two-wheelers.


The safety increasing vehicle technology for powered two-wheelers is divided in two parts, one concerning technology related to active safety, and the other concerning passive safety. Active safety consists of systems that try to prevent an accident from happening, while systems related to passive safety have the goal to reduce the consequences in case an accident occurs.


Active safety systems for motorcycles are on the one hand braking systems that assure a more efficient and more effective use of the available braking power, and on the other systems that increase the conspicuity of motorcyclists. From a literature study it appeared that braking in a correct manner is one of the most difficult skills to teach motorcyclists, while this may play an important role in case of an emergency. As regards to conspicuity, it appeared that in more than half of the accidents in which another vehicle was involved, the driver of the other vehicle did not notice the motorcyclist. As a consequence, technology that increases the conspicuity of a motorcyclist has a potential in reducing the number of accidents.


Systems that increase the passive safety are related to technology on the driver level as well as on the motorcycle level. On the driver level an overview is given of the state of the art concerning helmet design and protective clothing. In a recent British study a new type of helmet has been designed, that has better performance than present helmets in the field of injury prevention and reduction of the severity of injuries. Recently the European Union issued standards concerning protective clothing. This type of clothing has the ability to prevent or reduce smaller injuries, but can not offer any protection against high impact accidents. On the vehicle level airbag studies are discussed, as well as leg protection. It appeared that the lower limbs are often injured during accidents. Also of importance is the fact that in the early design stages of powered two-wheelers, attention should be paid to prevent injuries from occurring during an accident.


Furthermore techniques applied to other vehicles that increase the road safety of motorcyclists are also discussed. These include systems that improve the detection of powered two-wheelers as well as designs of passenger cars or lorries that take collisions with vulnerable road users into consideration.


As recommendations towards policy, emphasis is laid upon the integration of new required driver skills during driver education, the need of consciousness-raising campaigns that point out the importance of the use of conspicuity increasing and protective equipment, and the necessity of further research into certain safety increasing technology. Furthermore greater importance should be attached to the design of vehicles (powered two-wheelers, light and heavy duty vehicles, …) to reduce the injuries resulting from an accident in which a motorcyclist is involved.

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The Policy Research Centre for Traffic Safety carries out policy relevant scientific research under the authority of the Flemish Government. The Centre is the result of a

cooperation between Hasselt University, KU Leuven and VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.


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