Safety shake-up on the horizon: European testing body present proposals to test and rate electronic aids and kit

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The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) has produced a document detailing plans for improving motorcycle safety.

Euro NCAP are best known for their safety ratings provided for new cars based on extensive crash testing. In their recent ‘Vision 2030’ paper, they have identified that safety developments are lagging in motorcycling and have made some suggestions.

“In Europe, there are nearly 37 million motorcycles and mopeds in circulation and their number is rising,” the document read. “Despite the risks of driving this form of motorised transport and the vulnerability of riders, riders have not benefited to the same extent as car occupants from the developments in vehicle safety.”

Motorbike on its side after crash

In the paper they note the growing safety tech in the two-wheeled space, such as cornering ABS and blind spot detection, however they have found that, where optional, the uptake remains low.

They also note that the main protection offered to riders is passive, in the form of helmets and riding gear, however again they note that barring helmets there is little requirement to wear safety gear and too, uptake is variable. So, what are they proposing? A couple of things…

First, Euro NCAP say they want to improve motorcycle safety by looking at cars, so they want to expand their vehicle crash scenarios to include more motorcycle incidents. They also want to look at assisted driving systems in cars to ensure they spot and react to motorcycles.

Motorbike skidding after car pulled out of junction

They also have an interest in testing the effectiveness of the additional safety items offered on bikes, such as cornering ABS, with a view to showing riders which of these systems have the highest real-world safety impact.

Secondly, they want to take a look at protective gear. They’ve noted that testing schemes such as SHARP identify the difference between the highest and lowest performing helmets that pass the ECE tests and the same goes for riding gear, with big differences between items that pass CE AAA. So what’s stopping them?

Euro NCAP admit there are a few legislative hurdles to cross, as well as financial, but also admit they’re not sure how riders, or the industry, will react.

CE rating label from pair of riding jeans

“I think it’s a great idea,” says motorcycle PPE expert Paul Varnsverry. “But why reinvent the wheel? In Australasia, the Motocap scheme does something very similar already and has been doing so for years. It’s a good example of a well-run lab producing great info for motorcyclists and it’s done well because of that.

“They’ve perfected the test apparatus and now with so many products gaining an AAA rating, their testing is more relevant than ever to demonstrate the quality of certain products whose excellence is masked by the European testing standard. If Euro NCAP can work with other organisations to create a global scheme, I’m all in favour of it.”