ACEM raises alarm over automated car safety

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Published on 2 September 2019 by Mike Waters

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Filed under Category: The world of motorcycling

A new paper by ACEM, the European Association of Motorcycle Manufacturers, which represents industry associations and manufacturers across 15 countries, has raised concerns about automated car systems that cannot detect motorcyclists.

The introduction of increasing amounts of automation technology is a consistent trend in modern cars, and the car industry is currently preparing for the roll-out of automation levels 3 and 4 – where the driver is present but can intervene and where a car can handle an entire trip by itself respectively – into the general market.

However, the technology is still relatively new and the complexities of real-world use are often different to tests conducted under carefully controlled conditions. The results can be dangerous, particularly to vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists.

The paper ‘How will automated cars impact motorcycle safety?’, which can be found here, noted that: “In some cases, modern cars do not have robust enough equipment to detect motorcycles. Several accidents in Europe and the US with cars ‘on autopilot’ indicate that some cars failed to detect motorcycles in all situations. Today, in some driver handbooks, one can find statements such as “the system may not detect small vehicles like motorcycles”, which is simply not acceptable from a safety point of view.”

The report concludes that “the motorcycle industry is open to discussion, recognition and appeals to the car industry and legislators to take this issue seriously and start dialoguing with the motorcycle industry on how to ensure that future cars react to motorcycles in a safe manner. Through constructive discussion, both the car and motorcycle industries can learn from each other and take the steps necessary, on both sides, to increase safety for all road users.”

UPDATE, 03.09.2019: The Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations has responded to the new ACEM position paper in a blog entry by General Secretary Dolf Willigers. In it, he said: 

"FEMA fully supports the ACEM position paper and we will keep cooperating with all parties that work on motorcycle safety, including ACEM. FEMA is also selected to be part of the Single Platform for open road testing and pre-deployment of cooperative, connected, automated and autonomous mobility (the CCAM platform) of the European Commission. This is an informal group of experts whose task it is to provide advice and support to the European Commission in the field of testing and pre-deployment activities for Cooperative, Connected, Automated and Autonomous Mobility (CCAM).

"Automated cars may be coming, be it not as soon as some want us to believe, but we are ready for them and we should not allow them on our public roads as long as they are not safe for all road users, including motorcyclists."

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