Seatbelts are seen as a safety add-on in cars. Car drivers are to use seatbelts mandatorily.
What about motorcycles then?
From a design and manufacturing perspective, it is not difficult to add a seatbelt on a motorcycle.
So do motorcycles have seatbelts? Why or why not?
Motorcycles do NOT have seatbelts. The motorcycle rider is safer riding without a seatbelt than with one.
Without a seatbelt, the rider has the choice to easily jump off the motorcycle during a crash or accident.
If there is a seatbelt, then the rider will be stuck on the motorcycle. Without an option to jump off or escape.
Why don’t motorcycles have seatbelts?
Seatbelts do not improve the rider’s safety while riding a motorcycle. That’s the main reason motorcycles don’t have seatbelts.
The rider is better off without strapped to any seat belt and has the option to jump off the bike during a crash or an accident since going down with the motorcycle – for certain – can result in fatal injuries.
Jumping off your motorcycles may not guarantee safety or fewer injuries every time.
However, having a choice to jump off or stay with your motorcycle is a far better alternative a rider can have.
Rather than being forcibly strapped to the seat belt and going down with the bike.
Does adding seatbelts improve safety in motorcycles?
Adding seatbelts does not improve motorcycle safety.
In a car, a seatbelt stops your body from hitting the debris or the front components of the car. In short, arrests the inertia.
When your car crashes and suddenly halts, the momentum of your body forces you to continue moving forward.
But seat belts arrest that momentum and save you from crashing into the front parts of your car (Airbags will add another safety layer to protect you from injuries).
Motorcycles, on the other hand, follow a completely different trajectory when it comes to functioning, crash, and safety measures for the rider.
The major differences include:
- Unlike cars, motorcycles topple and fall down easily
- Motorcycle rider needs more free movement
- Getting stuck with the motorcycle in a crash can be fatal
Let us look into each difference and the impact of seatbelts on motorcycle riding one by one.
#1. Unlike cars, motorcycles topple and fall down easily
This is the main distinction for why seatbelts are ineffective in motorcycles.
While cars are like a closed container space inside which the rider is seated and protected, motorcycles are open vehicles.
Add to it, motorcycles when halted do not stand on the road, rather their natural resting position is to fall down unless you use the stand.
So, when your motorcycle falls down you don’t want to go down with it.
Instead, you would like to jump off the motorcycle to reduce or avoid any injuries.
And having seat belts will not allow you to jump off the motorcycle but rather you will be forced to go down with it – risking injuries.
#2. Motorcycle rider needs more free movement
As a motorcycle rider, you would naturally prefer more free movement when compared to driving a car.
You would usually bend forward sometimes and lean back some other times depending on your riding habits and accelerating or decelerating your motorcycle.
Aside from the voluntary movements, you move your body parts even involuntarily far more times and at far more reach/angle when you are riding a motorcycle.
Including seat belts in motorcycles will inhibit your freedom of movement while riding the bike.
One would easily get annoyed by the restriction a seat belt places on the motorcycle.
Not just this minor inconvenience, restricting movements can also result in reduced driving performance as a rider gets annoyed and irritated from this restriction.
#3. Getting stuck with the motorcycle in a crash can be fatal
Now here comes the main part.
If you face an accident or crash on something, you would be far better off with the option to jump off your motorcycle rather than stuck with it and forced to go down along with your bike.
Imagine a scenario where your motorcycle crashes into a concrete wall. If you are not strapped to a seatbelt, there are three likely outcomes –
- you hit the wall along with your bike;
- you jumping off of the motorcycle but still hitting the wall or the pavement and getting injured;
- you jumping off and escaping any injuries.
It is still a probability game and up to the chances. However, notice that you hitting the wall along with your motorcycle is going to guarantee injuries. The other scenarios are up to chance.
But having a seat belt will result in only one outcome – you hitting the wall along with your motorcycle.
And the bottom line?
Seat belts are in no possible way improve a rider’s safety while riding a motorcycle.
The rider is better off without strapped to any seat belt and has the option to jump off the bike.
What happens if there are seat belts on motorcycles?
Again, as discussed earlier, if there are seat belts in motorcycles, the rider will be stuck with the motorcycle.
A crash, an accident, a toppling down – doesn’t matter. You go down with the bike.
A heavy motorcycle will be a pain if you are strapped with a seat belt. You can’t escape, now that the motorcycle is fixed between your two legs.
Toppling down? Your leg, for sure, is going to get crushed.
So, what if you don’t wear a seat belt? Well, what do you think will happen? If the design is not proper, the seat belts might hang down and get entangled in the wheel.
You have not traveled 10 meters, your motorcycle will topple down or will crash into something.
Okay, how about ejection seats in motorcycles?
If jumping off the motorcycle is the better alternative during a motorcycle crash, how about adding ejection seats in motorcycles which will eject the rider during a crash?
Firstly, we don’t know for certain that jumping off is always the better alternative. What if you jump and hit a rock? You will be facing far more grievous injury than if you have stayed on your bike.
Second, what if the surroundings are not suitable? Imagine you are driving on a bridge. Your motorcycle is about to crash and you get ejected – out of the bridge and into a deep-water body!
Not a good safety measure, right?
Motorcycles don’t have seatbelts.
And they should NOT have seatbelts in the future too.
Unlike in cars, seatbelts do NOT improve motorcycle safety.
I would argue airbags can be a better safety add-on for motorcycles. Far better than seatbelts.
Before you go…
Here are a few more curious questions to satisfy your inner cat: