Learning Center

Anti-lock Brakes Save Lives, Reduce Injuries for Motorcyclists

motorcycle rider on a country road

Riding a motorcycle gives you a sense of freedom unlike any other. The wind in your hair and the sun on your face are part of the thrill. Unfortunately, motorcycles also leave riders more exposed, vulnerable and likely to face serious injury, even in a minor accident.

Helping improve motorcycle safety and accident survivability is the addition of anti-lock braking systems (ABS), which have been commonplace in cars since the early 1990s. Now, they’re becoming increasingly popular on motorcycles.

How ABS works on motorcycles

Stopping a motorcycle isn't like stopping a car. Motorcycles have separate brake controls for the front and rear wheels, and either wheel can lock up during hard braking. No matter how skilled a rider you are, you can't predict when a driver ahead of you will cut you off or stop suddenly, forcing you to brake hard enough to lock up your wheels. On a car, a lockup might result in a skid. On a motorcycle, it can mean a fall and serious injury.

Although motorcycles have sufficient braking power and traction to stop in as short a distance as a typical car, panic-braking a motorcycle poses unique hazards. Fast, hard stops on a motorcycle require greater operator skills. With the addition of ABS, a motorcycle rider can hit the brakes as hard as they want without fear of locking up either wheel.

Motorcycles with ABS reduce fatalities by 31 percent

Studies have shown that ABS on motorcycles save lives and reduce injuries. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the rate of fatal crashes for motorcycles equipped with ABS is 31 percent lower than for those same models without ABS.

The Highway Loss Data Institute also finds that motorcycles with ABS:

  • Reduce collision insurance claims by 20 percent
  • Lower medical payment claim rates by 28 percent
  • Reduce bodily injury claim rates by 22 percent

Ultimately, avoiding a panic stop or a dangerous situation comes back to the skill of the rider. With ABS, though, motorcyclists increase their chance of survival in a sudden, unexpected stop.

If you are considering buying a new motorcycle, put safety first – look for a bike that has ABS. Most major motorcycle makers offer ABS on their large and mid-level motorcycles.

To help protect yourself from any financial harm while riding, make sure your bike is also insured properly with motorcycle insurance. An American Family agent can help you determine if you have the right protection.

Additional Motorcycle Safety Resources

Let It Snow

When the ground is covered, make sure your sled is too.

Learn More