MRF Representatives Visit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Test Center - ABATE of Ohio

MRF Representatives Visit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Test Center

Last week, Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) Vice President Jay Jackson and D.C. Lobbyist Rocky Fox visited the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) at its crash test center 100 miles outside Washington, D.C. in Ruckersville, Virginia. The IIHS is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries, and property damage from motor vehicle crashes through research and evaluation and by educating consumers, policymakers, and safety professionals.

The meeting was a combined effort by both parties to find common ground on policies that can help achieve mutual success. First and foremost, we appreciate the IIHS goal of reducing deaths among motorcyclists. We should all be able to agree that the all-time high of over 6,000 deaths in 2021 is an unacceptable number.

The timing of our visit was fortuitous as today the IIHS announced a new rating program aimed at partial driving automation systems. As the report states, “Vehicles with partial automation are not self-driving — though automakers sometimes use names that imply their systems are.” Of the fourteen (14) systems tested, only one earned an “acceptable” rating. Two (2) systems were rated “marginal,” while the remaining eleven (11) were rated “poor.”

The underlying message of the report from IIHS is that “Partial driving automation is a convenience feature that is meant to make long drives easier. There is no evidence that it makes driving safer, and, in fact, it can create new risks by making it easier for the driver’s attention to wander. For this reason, it is essential that all partial driving automation systems incorporate robust safeguards.” We at the MRF wholeheartedly agree with this statement and thank the IIHS for taking the lead in evaluating this recent technology.

Focusing on issues we agree on, as opposed to what divides us, helped produce key and productive dialogue. The IIHS has also begun assessing front crash prevention technology in cars and trucks as they relate to motorcycles. Previously the IIHS only evaluated this technology in automobile vs. automobile situations. IIHS has now branched out to assess how this driver assistance technology recognizes and reacts to motorcycles. We are excited to see what their report reveals.

All too often, after a crash between an automobile and a motorcycle, the driver will admit that they “did not see the motorcycle.” Any technology that aids drivers in seeing bikers is welcome. Additionally, knowing which makes and models of vehicles can and cannot see motorcycles will be crucial information for motorcyclists on the road. The MRF anticipates both the IIHS report and their vehicle ratings on this issue.

While discussions were within the office, the IIHS did invite the MRF representatives to see a crash test conducted. For their viewing pleasure, a 2023 Chevy Tahoe was slammed into a brick wall at 40 MPH. This crash allowed researchers to study the effects on the occupants of the Tahoe and the performance of the Tahoe’s safety features during an impact. The crash test was a great reminder of how even relatively low-speed crashes can have devastating ramifications for those involved. We thank the IIHS for the invitation to meet and look forward to a continuing dialogue on issues that matter to both organizations.
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