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Is the autocycle the way to reduce motorcycle crash injuries?

Motorcycling tends to be light on the scale when it comes to motoring safety. Anyone who rides is likely aware that even though Connecticut law assures him or her right to be on the road, it can't prevent an accident.

Too often, even when a crash is the result of someone else's negligence, it's the motorcyclist who winds up suffering the worst. Lacking the safety equipment in cars and trucks, the cyclist is at a clear disadvantage. The result can be road rash at the very least, broken bones, cracked skulls, debilitating brain injury or death at worst.

Seeking compensation that may be rightfully due is a process that can be complicated, confusing and time consuming. At a time when the victim's focus should be on recovery, struggles over insurance claims can be distracting. Contacting an experienced attorney is typically recommended.

There are some who want to change the dynamic on motorcycling safety. In the past several years several vehicles have begun to be developed that seek to straddle the fence between automobile and motorcycle. One is the Polaris Stingray. Another is the Elio. The problem is that the vehicles don't fall neatly into one category or the other.

These are vehicles that feature three wheels. But they also feature steering wheels, gas and brake pedals and seats with seatbelts for two. The Elio goes even further. It has a fully enclosed cab, a windshield and wiper, and airbags. Elio Motors says its vehicles meet safety standards set by federal regulators for cars.

Some states are willing to call them motorcycles. Others won't accept them as cycles or cars.

To overcome the category hurdles, Elio and Polaris have been lobbying states seeking exemptions that would allow their vehicles on the road. Alternatively, they've sought to get legislation passed that would establish clear definitions for what would be called autocycles.

There's even a measure before the U.S. Senate called the Autocycle Safety Act. Its goal is to formalize the Elio as the standard for autocycles under federal law. Elio says the legislation would create consistency across the states. It also would stimulate the creation of the market in a way that seems to favor the Elio.

It may be that allowing these new vehicles will translate into greater safety. But if the vehicle is fully enclosed, can it really be called motorcycling?

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