Our Principles Drive Our Mission
RIDE SMARTER AND STAY SAFER WITH ALL THE GEAR EVERY TIME YOU RIDE
There are risks to riding a motorcycle. There are no safety measures that eliminate risk exposure.
SMARTER is a motorcyclist safety education association whose mission is two-fold: to promote risk-reduction strategies of individual riders and to support public policies that help keep motorcyclists safe. Our principles drive our mission to help you ride smarter and stay safer with all the gear all the time.
- motorcyclists are responsible for their own safety.
- responsible motorcyclists are trained and educated riders.
- trained and educated riders make smarter choices to stay safer.
- motorcyclists stay safer when they choose to ride smart with all the gear all the time.
- wearing all the gear all the time demonstrates to nonriders and new riders the evolving culture of responsible motorcycling.
- the culture of responsible motorcycling includes self-responsibility as well as a collective responsibility to fellow motorcyclists, especially new riders, who might otherwise make poor choices that increase the risks of riding.
- our collective responsibility to the motorcycling community involves advocating for program implementation and public policies—safety initiatives, legislative enactments, and required skills training—that help keep motorcyclists safe.
- public policymakers need to hear the voice of responsible motorcyclists so they have accurate information on which to make smarter decisions about motorcyclist safety.
An issue or position statement is a short description of a central or priority topic in a discussion or debate. While it is likely most individuals familiar with SMARTER’s mission and principles would be able to ascertain the organizations position on many important issues, the Board of Directors decided to develop, approve and publish position statements that delineate the organization’s official stance on critical issues in motorcyclist safety. Below are the statements.
Motorcycle Helmet Use: Approved by the SMARTER Board of Directors on 10/14/17
All valid research clearly demonstrates the benefits of wearing a helmet. Motorcycle helmets save lives and prevent devastating and debilitating head injuries. Every reputable safety research organization in the world supports the use of helmets as a way to reduce injury, death, and economic costs resulting from head, face and brain injury. For decades, hundreds of researchers representing distinguished organizations have researched the topic of the effectiveness of helmets. Meticulous reviews of the literature have concluded that the research clearly demonstrates the lifesaving benefits of wearing a helmet. That fact is not only clear but overwhelming and undeniable.
Based on the overwhelming evidence that motorcycle helmets work for their intended purpose of protecting the riders head, face and brain in the event of a crash, SMARTER strongly advocates all riders wear a quality DOT approved full face helmet every time they ride.
Full Gear: Approved by the SMARTER Board of Directors on 10/14/17
Reducing injury when crashes do occur means riders must wear protective equipment. This comes in two forms – helmets to protect the head, face and brain and motorcycle jackets, pants, gloves and boots to protect the remainder of the riders body. While the research regarding the protective benefits of full protective motorcycle gear (padded tear‐resistant clothing, gloves, and boots) is limited, the available information clearly demonstrates protective gear works to reduce injury in the event of a crash. Protective clothing is unlikely to prevent serious injury in high impact crashes, but protective gear can reduce gravel rash, friction and exhaust pipe burns, stripping of skin and muscles, torn or severed ligaments, some broken bones and the infection of wounds. Proper gear can also enhance comfort and make riders more visible to other motorists.
Based on the available research confirming the protective benefits of full gear in the event of a crash, SMARTER advocates that riders wear all the gear, every time they ride.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws: Approved by the SMARTER Board of Directors on 10/14/17
All valid research clearly demonstrates the benefits of wearing a helmet. Motorcycle helmets save lives and prevent devastating and debilitating head injuries. Every reputable safety research organization in the world supports the use of helmets as a way to reduce injury, death, and economic costs resulting from head, face and brain injury. For decades, hundreds of researchers representing distinguished organizations have researched the topics of the effectiveness of helmets and all-rider helmet law’s. Meticulous reviews of the literature have concluded that the research clearly demonstrates the lifesaving benefits of wearing a helmet, and that all-rider helmet laws are the only research proven strategy for reducing motorcyclist fatalities.
Unhelmeted riders are a problem we can do something about. The most effective strategy to increase helmet use is enactment of all-rider helmet laws. An all-rider (universal) motorcycle helmet law requires all motorcyclists to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet whenever they ride.
The conclusions are irrefutable:
- All-rider helmet laws are relatively inexpensive to enact
- Enactment can be accomplished fairly easily
- Helmets are widely available
- Enforcement is relatively easy
- In all-rider helmet law states 98-99% of riders wear helmets
- All-rider helmet laws are supported by the majority of citizens
- Governments have a responsibility to support citizen safety efforts.
Based on the research conclusions, SMARTER supports the enactment of all-rider helmet laws and opposes the repeal or weakening of existing all-rider laws.
Novelty Helmet Use: Approved by the SMARTER Board of Directors on 10/14/17
Research has consistently demonstrated that motorcycle helmets meeting federal safety standards save lives and reduce the risk of head, face and brain injuries in the event of a crash. Wearing a quality helmet is widely accepted as the best countermeasure available to reduce the severity of head injuries and the frequency of fatalities in the event of a crash.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tested seven popular “novelty” helmets to determine how they compare to properly certified helmets. The novelty helmets all performed significantly worse, based on their lack of ability to absorb impact energy during a motorcycle crash. Novelty helmets, in general, had very little, if any, impact-absorbing capability. Computer simulations of head impact attenuation tests show a 100-percent probability of brain injuries and/or skull fracture for the person involved in a crash while wearing a novelty helmet.
To reduce injury or possibility of death, the National Association of State Motorcycle Safety Administrators (SMSA) in August of 2017 called for a ban on the production and sale of novelty helmets to motorcyclists.
Based on the available research, SMARTER joins SMSA in calling for a ban on the production and sale of novelty helmets to motorcyclists.
Anti-lock Braking Systems: Approved by the SMARTER Board of Directors on 01/13/18
Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) reduce motorcycle crashes and save lives. The research evidence for this statement is extensive (see http://smarter-usa.org/research/design-equipment/) Fatal and serious injury crashes are reduced for motorcycles equipped with ABS. Insurance claims are reduced for ABS equipped motorcycles. Anti-lock braking systems have demonstrated their value for avoiding accidents, reducing injuries and preventing deaths in 2-wheeled transportation vehicles.
Based on the evidence that anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are effective in reducing fatal and serious injury crashes, SMARTER strongly advocates all riders choose to purchase ABS equipped motorcycles and SMARTER supports motorcyclist safety program efforts aimed at increasing the number of ABS equipped motorcycles available and purchased.
Motorcyclist and Motorcycle Conspicuity: Approved by the SMARTER Board of Directors on 03/ 24/18
Low or limited motorcycle and motorcycle rider conspicuity has been long recognized as an important motorcyclist crash contributory factor. Crash investigations from many countries indicate that between half and three-quarters of all motorcyclist crashes involve collision with another vehicle. In many of these collisions the other vehicle violated the motorcyclists’ right-of-way (ROW). Most of these ROW violation crashes involving motorcyclists are attributed to perception errors on the part of the other vehicle driver. The driver of the other vehicle violated the motorcyclists ROW because they ‘looked but failed to see’ (LBFS). LBFS crashes happen when the car driver pulls into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist and claims not to have seen him/her approaching.
One often discussed reason for LBFS ROW violation caused crashes is that motorcycles/riders are less conspicuous than other road users. The theory then is the frequency of these types of crashes could be reduced if motorcycles and riders were made more conspicuous.
The word conspicuity is often just considered a fancy term for visibility or notice-ability meaning the ability of an object to draw attention to itself, even if nobody’s actively searching for it. However, as the abundance of research available shows, the issue of motorcycle and motorcyclist conspicuity is a highly complex matter. Motorcycle and rider conspicuity are not just connected to the rider and motorcycle but most importantly to the observer and both are connected to the ever changing environment for both the rider and observer.
There exists evidence that Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), daytime high-beam usage, headlight modulators, wearing a bright or light colored helmet and High-Viz riding gear reduces crash rates. There also exists experimental and basic science evidence that shows that DRLs, high-beam usage, HighViz, and the chevron pattern are detected quicker and more reliably, especially in marginal conditions.
Motorcycle and rider conspicuity is also connected to rider behavior and actions. Lane position and movement choices by the rider can impact other motorist’s ability to identify the rider in the traffic mix.
There are limitations as to how effective any individual interventions can be due to the number of different visual contexts in which motorcyclists find themselves when riding. Given that environments may differ over even fairly small changes in time or location, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution, meaning that motorcyclists need to be aware of the limitations of whichever interventions they use.
While the overall evidence certainly does indicate there is a benefit to riders who make themselves and their motorcycle more conspicuous there remain many unanswered questions. However, based on the evidence that increased motorcyclist and motorcycle conspicuity are rider interventions that could reduce the risk of a crash, SMARTER strongly advocates all riders choose to wear High-Viz gear, make modifications to their motorcycle to increase conspicuity, and make riding choices keeping in mind the advantages of making themselves and their motorcycle more conspicuous.
Intelligent Transportation System – Approved by the SMARTER Board of Directors on 01/12/19
Intelligent transportation system (ITS) is the application of sensing, analysis, control and communications technologies to ground transportation in order to improve safety, mobility and efficiency. ITS includes a wide range of applications that process and share information to ease congestion, improve traffic management, minimize environmental impact and increase the benefits of transportation to commercial users and the public in general.
SMARTER recommends members work to stay knowledgeable regarding Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), strive to engage the motorcyclist community and general public to improve the design and acceptance of motorcycle ITS, embrace upcoming technology and collaborate with all sectors and stakeholders to promote ITS.