Local motorcyclists react to anti-lock brake proposal for new bikes

Agency wants all new U.S. motorcycles for road use to have anti-lock brakes

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Federal safety officials are recommending new motorcycles be equipped with anti-lock brakes, but what do riders in the Heartland think about the proposal?

The National Transportation Safety Board wants to make anti-lock brake systems, or ABS for short, a standard feature on every new motorcycle sold in the US.

According to the Associated Press, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt thinks the safety features gives a biker more control in an emergency and could save lives. Sumwalt cited a statistic from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that found anti-lock brakes could reduce motorcycle fatalities by 31 percent.

"That is a sizeable safety benefit that the U.S. is leaving on the table, leaving on the pavement, actually,” Sumwalt said.

As a retired motorcycle officer from the Cape Girardeau Police Department, John “Buddy” Davis knows how dangerous riding bikes can be.

“You don’t have the protective cage like you do in a car or pickup truck," Davis said. "Whether you are in the right or not, if you crash on a motorcycle obviously the consequences can be very devastating. That is why we have to figure out ways to try to be as safe as we can.”

Davis is now the executive manager at Lawless Harley Davidson and says each new Harley has the option of adding anti-lock brakes.

The first time he rode a Harley model with ABS in 2007, Davis says he was sold.

“Any bike that I ride is going to have anti-lock brakes on it. I don’t have to guess where that threshold braking is. The motorcycle does it for me," Davis said. “I want to be able to ride safely. I want to be able to ride in the rain, and not have to worry about whether I’m going to skid a front tire.”

Hank Becker, is a technician at Grass Roots BMW, says anti-lock brakes have been standard on their motorcycles for years.

“Abs is top notch," Becker said. "It’s right there with a seat belt in a car. It’s a no brainier.”

Becker, says ABS technology has been around since the 1990′s and has continued to improve, but says some cyclists still have their reservations.

“Now you can go from 100 miles per hour to zero in almost 60 feet so why would you not want to trust that computer?" Becker said. “Everybody trusts everything else about technology. the car they are driving has more tech than we could ever pack on a motorcycle. With the fast pace of the world you have to have something fast pace to react. You can not react any faster than that anti-lock brake system does.”

Becker also says motorcycles in the next five years might have included Heads Up Displays, lane changing technology and blind-spot alerts on mirrors.

Davis is also a motorcycle instructor and is not surprised by the a push to add more safety features to motorcycles, but says he is more worried about distracted driving.

“When I’m riding my motorcycle and I’m next to a car or truck. I look over there, and that driver is looking down in their lap at a cellphone, it makes me a little nervous," Davis said. "ABS is a great tool to advance safety of motors on the road but we all have to make sure we ramp up our attention a little bit so we are all a little safer.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NTSB), will make the final decision on whether or not motorcycle manufacturers will be required to add anti-lock brakes to new models sold in America.

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