The motorcycle airbag and your insurance policy
In this new post I bring you a reflection on how the use of the motorcycle airbag could affect the price of your motorcycle insurance. Since the number of motorcycle users skyrockets in good weather, so does the number of accidents unfortunately.
For all those who use the motorcycle as a means of transportation, we know how fragile we are compared to other road users. The phrase that “on the motorcycle, our body is the chassis” is well known to all.
Proposals are constantly emerging focused on finding solutions that avoid the damage caused in accidents; although some may seem as crazy as this one.
For all this, and despite the fact that motorcycles increasingly incorporate better safety systems, one of the best investments we can make is to equip ourselves so that in the event of an accident we suffer the least possible damage. The market offers innovations every year in helmets, equipment and recently in motorcycle airbags.
ACCIDENT RATE AND CONSEQUENCES
According to DGT data, in 2018 there were 1,072 fatal accidents on interurban roads, in which 1,180 people died and 4,515 injured people were hospitalized.
This accident rate occurred in a scenario in which displacements increased by 2% (7.8 million more). This means that during last year more than 416 million long-distance journeys were made. The fleet of vehicles has increased by 3%, standing at 33.7 million vehicles and the drivers’ census has grown by 1%, standing at 26.8 million drivers.
Data on motorcycles indicate that unfortunately last year, 211 people died on a two-wheeled vehicle.
Beyond the global data, there is one fact that will catch our attention: of the 211 motorcycle deaths, 7 of them did not wear a helmet. These seven isolated cases surprised us since today we see it unthinkable that someone can ride a motorcycle without using this basic element of security, However, it was not until August 10, 1982 when this regulation came into force.
SECURITY SYSTEM: MOTORCYCLE AIRBAG
According to the motorcycle accident data from 2018 and except, obviously, in those cases in which the helmet was not used, we can understand that the security systems they adopted were not sufficient to save those lives.
As I mentioned at the beginning, the market offers constant advances in safety and comfort every year. To improve safety, for some years there have been on the market motorcycle airbag vests, which in the event of an accident, will protect the lower part of the head, neck, chest, ribs, clavicle, lungs, abdomen, pancreas, pelvis and spine of the injured person.
The technology used in them has come a long way. The idea of absorbing impact with air dates back to the 1950s, but only in recent years has it become feasible and affordable for widespread use regardless of the type of motorcycle or scooter you use. Although helmets have proven their value for excellent head protection, the spinal cord. The vital internal organs in the upper body are still vulnerable when we have an accident. Therefore, motorcycle airbags reduce damage by providing a cushioning layer between the body and the impact surface.
HOW DO MOTORBIKE AIRBAGS WORK?
Essentially, all motorcycle airbags on the market use the same physical principle: a CO2 (carbon dioxide) or argon gas cartridge. This is punctured by an activation mechanism, and then the compressed gas expands and moves rapidly through the tunnels in the vest and inflates them, thereby transforming the vest into an air cushion. There are two types of products that differ mainly in the mechanism activation procedure, mechanical or electronic.
MECHANICAL AIRBAG VESTS
Mechanical airbag vests are activated by pulling a cable, the strap is attached to the motorcycle on one side and to the airbag vest on the other end. When an accident occurs, it is assumed that the rider separates or jumps off the motorcycle. The clamping ball holds a spring loaded piston. When released, the released spring pushes on the piston that punctures the cartridge cover and allows gas to expand through the opening.
It is a simple and reliable system that does not need batteries and works well in most conditions, but there are some problems with this approach.
In some falls, the rider may not immediately jump off the motorcycle, or not jump off the motorcycle at all and may not trip, or the rope may snag until the end of the fall.
In terms of operating comfort, the strap must be attached and detached from the vest manually at each start and end of travel, which can be cumbersome, but like buckling a helmet or seat belt in a car.
It is important to note that if the user forgets to fasten the strap attached to the motorcycle chassis with the vest, the system is inactive.
Most mechanical vests are worn over any type of motorcycle jacket, so it can be a safety element that you buy to complete your motorcycle gear.
The price of airbag vests has been reduced in recent years, with its price around € 450. CO2 cartridges for replacement if the airbag is activated are around € 12.
As for brands, in Spain two are mainly commercialized: HitAir and Helite, although you can find others such as Spidi or Held online.
MOTORBIKE AIRBAG AND INSURANCES
The incorporation of the motorcycle airbag into the usual equipment of a motorcyclist should suppose, in terms of accident rate reduction, a turning point similar to that reached when the mandatory use of the helmet was established.
Its effectiveness shows in the fact that it is already incorporated into the Guardia Civil, Local Police or Royal Guard equipment.
HOW TO PROMOTE ITS USE AND ADVANTAGES WITH THE INSURANCE
Although when purchasing a car, no one considers the option of not buying it with airbag systems (it reduces the risk of a fatal accident by 30% with respect to the seat belt), there is no such awareness when buying a motorcycle. Despite the fact that, as a study by MAPFRE Foundation concluded, traveling by motorcycle is 12 times more dangerous than traveling by car.
The consequences of motorcycle accidents are not only reduced to the cost of human lives, but the high impact in economic terms (hospitalization costs, periods of sick leave and/ or
Although it is becoming increasingly common to acquire an airbag vest, its price and ignorance of its advantages, they are still some of the reasons for its low use in absolute terms.
One of the ways (apart from the installation of the double protection in the guardrails) to reduce the accident rate figures for the DGT and the economic impact of motorcycle traffic accidents, could be to promote the idea of “a motorcycle, an airbag”, encouraging the acquisition of these elements at the time of purchasing a motorcycle or when contracting motorcycle insurance.
Finding a way for the calculation of our motorcycle insurance (either the premium or the franchise in the event of an accident) to take into account the use of the motorcycle airbag is something that insurance companies should study.