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Environmental Factors: Intelligent Transportation Systems Table of ContentsHomenhtsa

Roadway Characteristics

Other Vehicle Design

First Response

Intelligent Transportation Systems


The deployment of Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) within traffic is rapidly increasing. Current ITS and Intelligent Vehicle Initiative (IVI) development efforts have generally ignored the presence of motorcycles and their riders.

• Motorcycle safety has received little, if any, consideration in the development and deployment of ITS technologies.

• The plan to accelerate deployment of vehicle-based ITS technologies, via DOT’s Intelligent Vehicle Initiative, raises concerns that these systems have not been adequately tested to perform reliably in a mixed traffic environment that includes motorcycles.

• Research and development of ITS technologies have been directed only toward the improvement of automobile safety. No research has been directed toward the improvement of motorcycle safety.

• Motorist awareness of motorcycles remains a pervasive safety issue (seeMotorist Awareness, page 31) and ITS technologies are essentially awareness-enhancement tools for the motorist. Therefore, a tremendous opportunity exists to apply these technologies toward the improvement of motorcycling safety through technology-enhanced motorist awareness. This opportunity is being ignored.


We want to ensure that motorcycling safety is enhanced—or at the least not compromised—by deployment of ITS/IVI technologies. By considering motorcycles and motorcyclists in the design and deployment of ITS technologies, it should be possible to enhance motorcycling safety in various ways.

• Design ITS to increase motorist awareness of motorcycles.

• Use ITS technologies to reduce violations of motorcyclists’ right-of-way.

• Employ ITS to reduce EMS response times to motorcycle crash scenes.

The agencies and organizations responsible for developing ITS technologies should ensure that motorcycles are considered in design, evaluations, and assessments prior to the deployment of these technologies within the private and commercial vehicle fleets.

• Emphasis should be given to the reliable detection of motorcycles by Automated Collision Warning Systems (ACWS) and Automated/Adaptive Cruise Control. Coordinating participants should include the DOT Joint Program Office on Intelligent Transportation Systems, ITS America, NHTSA, ITS industry, motorcycle industry, and motorcycle-user organizations.

• Identify and prioritize motorcycle safety issues that may be addressed through the application of ITS technologies. Conduct research to determine the impact these technologies may have toward improving motorcycle safety. Foster development and deployment of those technologies that have a positive impact on motorcycle safety. Suggested topics for further research include:

1. Application of ACWS toward the mitigation of multivehicle collisions involving motorcycles; more specifically the reduction of the left-hand turn in front of an approaching motorcycle. According to NHTSA (FARS, 1998) nearly half of all motorcycle fatality crashes are multivehicle; 36 percent of these are left-hand turns in front of an approaching motorcycle.

2. Study the feasibility and benefits of equipping motorcycles with automated collision notification systems for the purpose of reducing EMS response time in the case of a motorcycle crash. Participants should include the DOT Joint Program Office on Intelligent Transportation Systems, ITS America, NHTSA, ITS industry, the motorcycle industry, and motorcycle rider organizations.


• Include motorcycles in the design and deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems.

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