Motorcycle accidents that I have handled at my firm sometimes involve bikes without anti-lock braking systems (ABS). Controlling a motorcycle while braking is more difficult than stopping a car. Motorcycles typically have separate break controls for both the front and rear wheels. If the rider brakes too hard, the wheels of the bike can lock up and cause the motorcycle to overturn. That’s where ABS helps. It detects when a wheel lock up is impending and automatically reduce brake pressure. It then adjusts the brake pressure several times per second, helping a rider to brake without locking up the wheels. That’s the rapid “thumping” you feel when your car’s ABS system kicks in.
Recent studies have shown that a rider of a motorcycle without ABS is up to 40% more likely to be injured or killed in a motorcycle accident than a rider on a motorcycle with ABS. Sadly, despite clear data showing the safety of motorcycles with ABS versus no ABS, Japanese manufacturers did not start offering ABS as options on their bikes until 2005 and Harley Davidson didn’t start adding ABS until 2008.