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Motorcycle makers' pooling effort could improve safety

Mark Twain gets the credit for the quip, "Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it." Whether he actually every wrote it or said it is a debate we don't plan to settle here. Rather, the line comes to mind when reflecting on motorcycle safety. A lot of people talk about it but nothing seems to ever get done.

That's not exactly true, of course. We have written about developments on this particular front on a number of occasions in the past, including one post in August. That item focused on how bright minds are trying to find a single helmet design that could protect riders in any situation.

That's still a work in progress. But if news from the motorcycle manufacturing world is to be believed, advances in safety on a broader front could be coming in the not-too-distant future. So Connecticut motorists may want to pay heed.

Three big motorcycle makers, BMW, Yamaha and Honda, have announced plans to pool their efforts on developing and promoting Cooperative-Intelligent Transportation Systems for motorcycles. ITS includes the various computerized systems that are now so common in cars, things like integrated, mobile communications, sensor systems and navigation. Their first goal is to develop a communication system to improve route selection decisions. The deadline for that is four years out.

You might think that all this would take is pulling devices out of cars and putting them on motorcycles. But the pool members say no. The smallness of motorcycles present big challenges. Devices need to be miniaturized. They also have to be able to withstand exposure to greater vibration, dust and water. Motorcycles don't operate the same way as cars, either, so software that runs the systems needs to be specially written.

By putting their heads together and inviting others to the table, manufacturers say they hope to improve overall motorcycling safety. Considering the inherently greater risk of suffering injury in a motorcycle accident, that can only be a good thing.

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