February 21 , 2001

-- Report Compiled on Fact-Finding Survey in Europe --

The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA) Motorcycle Committee (Chaired by Takehiko Hasegawa, President of Yamaha Motor Co.) recently conducted a survey of motorcycle tandem riding on motor expressways in Europe (specifically, in Germany and Italy), and has now compiled a report on those findings.

In Japan, tandem riding of motorcycles has been banned on national motor express highways and automobile roads since 1965. As a result, such tandem riding is only allowed on general roadways, making it extremely difficult to take long-distance trips in that riding mode. Proponents of tandem riding have complained about this situation, appealing for the ability to utilize Japan's safe and comfortable expressways for motorcycle tandem riding as well.

The motorcycle industry has also continued to lobby the administrative authorities to remove these regulations. In fiscal 2000 the issue was added to the discussion agenda of the government Regulatory Reform Committee, with the National Police Agency studying the potential for dropping the current bans. For the fact-finding survey in Europe, visits were made to the police in Germany and Italy, IVM (Industrie-Verband Motorrad Deutschland = the Motorcycle Industry Association of Germany), BAST (Bundesanstalt fuer Strassenwesen = the German Federal Highway Study Research Institute), AISCAT (Associazione Italiana Societa Concessionarie Autostrade e Trafori = the Italian Association of Expressway and Tunnel Contractors) and other sources to gather information. Time was also allocated for actually experiencing motorcycle tandem riding in both countries, for conducting a study on the pros and cons of the practice.

The survey turned up the following facts: (1) Accidents involving tandem motorcycle riders on expressways are extremely rare; (2) for motorcycles, the risk of traveling on expressways is one-third that of general roads; (3) the accident rate involving motorcycle tandem riders is below that of single riders; (4) no cases could be found in which tandem riding actually caused motorcycle accidents on expressways, and so forth. The report reached the following conclusion: "Tandem riding on motor expressways is safer than on general roads. Accordingly, based on expectations that tandem motorcycle riding on expressway routes will contribute to higher levels of safety, it is proposed that the regulations banning this mode of travel be removed at the earliest possible time."

The JAMA Motorcycle Committee plans to distribute the report to the National Police Agency and other government offices, the Regulatory Reform Committee under the Cabinet Headquarters for Administrative Reform, the Office of Trade and Investment Ombudsman (OTO) under the Cabinet Office and other pertinent targets, in seeking to promote further dialogue on the issue.

<Summary of the Report>

Survey Report on" Motorcycle Tandem Riding on the Expressways of Europe" (72 pages, A4 size).

[Survey Objective]
Clarify the actual degree of risk in tandem riding on expressways in order to contribute to studies into removing regulations, by examining the conditions in Europe (where that mode of riding is permitted).

[Countries Surveyed]
Germany and Italy.

[Survey Content]

  • Motorcycle use conditions in Europe.
  • Tandem riding safety on expressways.
  • Experiencing motorcycle tandem riding on expressways.

[Survey Methods]

  • Collection of data and documents concerning motorcycles and motor expressways in Europe.
  • The survey mission visited the local police and other traffic administration authorities, gathering opinions on motorcycle expressway use and accidents.
  • Use of direct interviews and the Internet to obtain opinions on whether tandem riding on expressways is safe or dangerous from parties involved with motorcycles in Europe and the U.S. (traffic administrators, the police, traffic safety institutions, motorcycle user groups, motorcycle magazines, journalists and others).
  • Inspections of local expressways and traffic conditions, and experiencing actual tandem riding on motorcycles.

[Major Survey Results]

  1. Tandem Riding Accidents on Expressways
    • Tandem riding accidents on expressways are extremely rare.
      • During 1999 in Germany, six people died during tandem motorcycle riding on expressways -- a number equivalent to 0.08% of all traffic accident fatalities.
      • In Italy, such accident deaths accounted for 0.1% of the total.
    • For motorcycles, the risk of operating on expressways is one-third of that when traveling on general roads.
      • In Germany, the fatality rate figured by motorcycle traffic volume on general roads is 9.4 persons/100 million unit-km.
      • This falls to 2.9 persons/100 million unit-km on expressways, where the risk is thus one-third that of general roads.
    • The tandem riding accident rate is below that of single riders.
      • In Italy, it is estimated that over half of all motorcycles operated on expressways (the authorities say 70%) are tandem riders. The breakdown of accidents, however, is 79.0% for single riders and 21.0% for tandem riders, indicating a clear trend for the tandem riding accident rate to be below that of single riding.
  2. Comparison of Expressway Design Standards
    • As a result of interviews conducted with the police in Italy and Germany, it was found that no records exist in either country of any motorcycle accidents on expressways in which tandem riding was the cause.
  3. Comparison of Expressway Design Standards
    • Comparisons of expressways in Japan, the U.S. and Europe revealed no conspicuous disparities in design standards, with observations of the local conditions supporting the conclusion that the safety levels of the roads themselves are similar.

According to the opinions collected from the local police, as well as those gathered through interviews with motorcycle users, over the Internet and other sources, the majority view is: "With motorcycles, even with tandem riding there is greater safety when expressway routes are taken."

In addition to this, the report carries comments on the experience of tandem riding on expressways, noting: "There is little anxiety about danger, making it possible to operate and tandem ride motorcycles with ease." Dr. Hubert Koch, a highly recognized authority in the field of traffic safety in Germany, was quoted as saying: "Expressway use serves to lower the motorcycle accident rate."

Based on the results of the survey, the report carries the following proposal.

  • Operation on expressways is safer than on general roads for both single and tandem riding. In Japan as well, tandem riding of motorcycles on expressways can be expected to lead to greater levels of safety, and in view of this it is proposed that the regulations banning this practice be removed immediately.
  • With regard to the promotion of safe motorcycle use on expressways, this is an area in which the industry will spare no time and effort, with the goals to be accomplished through user safety education activities and other programs.

Together with the completion of the report, a 12-minute video report of the survey has been produced. Entitled "Motor Expressways in Europe -- The Current State of Motorcycle Tandem Riding," this video is based on local filming.

The report has also been used as the basis for the pamphlet "The Expressways and Safety of Tandem Riding" (8 page, A4 size), which introduces the key points of the survey report in an easy to understand format.