Motorcycle Safety News for June 2008

Virtual Safety

We recently received a press release entitled, "THE UK'S FIRST RESEARCH MOTORCYCLE SIMULATOR" so naturally we jumped headfirst into the body text.

The document went on to tell us that British Midlands University of Nottingham was busy constructing a first -of-its-kind research simulator for two wheelers. The machine - consisting of a Triumph motorcycle mounted on a unique rig designed and built at the University - is said to be state of the art and capable of giving researchers valuable information on rider and road safety, motorcycle design and motorcycle engineering.

This interactive moving platform will then be linked to driving simulation software that will project different scenarios onto huge screens in front of and behind the motorcycle, recreating a realistic riding experience for the motorcyclist. More excerpts from the press release follow:

" This unique system will allow engineers to study aspects of motorcycle ergonomics and rider human factors - a relatively new research area. Thiscovers all aspects of motorcycling, from motorcycle design and rider equipment to rider behaviour and competence and road safety.

Dr Alex Stedmon, a lecturer in the School of Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering's Centre for Motorcycle Ergonomics and Rider Human Factors, is leading the project. "The simulator offers unique research on a number of levels," he said. "The motorcycle allows riders to operate controls and lean on the motorcycle as they would in the real world. The software also allows us to model different weather conditions, hazards, traffic and pedestrians so that we have completely interactive scenarios.

"We've taken guidance from bikers about the important factors in developing a simulation of real riding. What we are building is much more sophisticated than current gaming technology that allows us to capture data from a rider performance and research perspective."

By putting the rider into tailor-made scenarios and measuring both their and the motorcycle's performance, the simulator will produce valuable data, both for academics and the motorcycle industry - manufacturers and road safety organisations have already shown interest in the project.

Anything from hazards - such as children or animals running out into the road - to different light, traffic and weather conditions can be programmed into the simulator, allowing researchers to measure the responses of different riders riding the same scenarios.

The simulator will also feature a rear road view projector, which will be viewable through the motorcycle's mirrors. This provides a more realisticriding experience as well as allowing riders to perform lifesaver checks - glances over the shoulder to check the way is safe and clear.

The simulator is expected to be up and running by June 2008.

The British Midlands Development Corporation is the North American economic development agency for central England. As an agency funded by the UK Government, The British Midlands Development Corporation provides specialist advice and support to North American companies seeking to establish a presence or expand a current operation in the region. The British Midlands Development Corporation provides access to business networks, details about sources for grants and funding, business support services, and information to help companies identify opportunities to develop and grow.

For more information, please visit .

Don't Mess With Truckers
If you're a biker, you know that trucks can be your mortal enemies. Semis, pickups flatbeds - it doesn't seem to matter. It's just the mechanics of the things; they're so long and wide, they can't see and react to smaller and faster motorcyclists that easily. We got hold of a couple of informative bulletins written with the everyday rider in mind.One is a short quiz testing your knowledge of on-the-road truck awareness and the other is a set of safety guidelines for motorists, compiled by the American Trucking Associations (who had a small demonstration at Americade this year).

Check out the helpful (if somewhat overlapping) information in the following releases:

Many drivers are often confused about how to safely share the road with trucks. 70 to 75 percent of all truck-related auto fatalities are caused by car drivers, according to AAA and the Department of Transportation. Safe highway merging and stopping distances are essential for highway driving. To quiz your knowledge on truck safety, consider the following questions.
Where is the largest blind spot on a large truck?
The right side of the truck. If possible, avoid passing a truck on the right side.
True or False: Big trucks have more tires and larger brakes so they can stop faster than smaller vehicles.
False. It takes a loaded truck traveling 60 mph the length of a football field to come to a stop.
How many lives could be saved by staying out of trucks' blind spots?
Approximately 1,300 lives per year in the United States are lost in crashes where vehicles are in a truck's blind spot. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 35 percent of all fatal accidents with large trucks occur in blind spots.
What is a safe traveling distance for a car when following a truck on the highway?: Stay 20 car lengths behind the truck so you have time to react to any changes in the road ahead including debris or accidents. Keep the trucks' mirrors in your sight at all times.

Never cut in front of a truck - Fully loaded trucks weigh up to 80,000 pounds and take the length of a football field to stop. Most cars weigh only 3,000 pounds.

Don't linger alongside a truck - There are large blind spots around trucks where cars momentarily "disappear" from view and the truck driver can't see you.

Pass trucks quickly - To make themselves visible cars should not linger near trucks, and should move past them or slow down to back off, out of the blind spot.

Changing lanes - Change lanes when you can see both of the truck's headlights in your rearview mirror.

If possible, pass a truck on the left, not on the right - A truck's blind spot on the right runs the length of the trailer and extends out 3 lanes. Motorists should try to avoid passing through this large blind spot.

Keep a safety cushion around trucks - Try to leave a 10-car length safety cushion in front of a truck and stay back 20-25 car lengths. Following a truck too closely obscures your view.

Check the truck's mirrors - If you're following a truck and you can't see the driver's face in the truck's side mirrors, the truck driver can't see you.

Allow trucks adequate space to maneuver - Trucks make wide turns at intersections and require additional lanes to turn, so motorists should allow a truck the space it needs to maneuver.

**ATA Blind Spot Illustration
**Shaded areas represent "blind spots" or areas where a car disappears from a truck driver's view

For additional information about Share the Road, please contact ATA at 703-838-1836

For more information, visit the American Trucking Associaton's website at: