Addressing Motorcyclist Safety
In the United States the number of motorcyclists is increasing according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and while motorcycle registrations are increasing, the increasing fatalities were not due to the increase in numbers.
The rate of fatalities per 100 million miles traveled has increased drastically. The increase between 1997 and 2004 was 89%.
Between 2001 and 2008, more than 34,000 motorcyclists were killed and an estimated 1,222,000 persons were treated in a U.S. emergency department (ED) for a non-fatal motorcycle-related injury. (CDC, 2013)
The most common motorcycle fatality is due to head injury. Despite the fact that helmets decrease head injuries drastically, many still occur.
The NHTSA estimates that had all motorcyclists involved in collisions worn helmets in 2006, 752 more people would have survived their injuries. As it was, in 2006 it is estimated that motorcycle helmets saved 1,658 lives. Over 4,800 motorcycle riders died in 2006. (georgiainjurylawyerblog.com, 2008)
Third Brake Lights
For automotive use, third brake lights were made mandatory in 1986 as a result of work in 1974 by psychologist John Voevodsky, PhD, tested a small, inexpensive gadget that would eventually make U.S. highways much safer.
Even though there is solid evidence that accidents have been reduced by adding a third brake light to the rear of automobiles, we can only deduce that there is potential for reduced accidents and motorcyclist fatalities as a result of additional rear and side-facing stop lighting to motorcycle helmets that act as a second brake light.
Simple Design Concept
The Carrot-Top would be a UV resistant flexible rubber strip that would wrap around the back half of the helmet and attach with automotive grade adhesive tape. A self-contained unit that operates four high-intensity LED red lights powered by a photovoltaic cell and AAA battery for backup. The stop light is activated when the rider applies the brake and is undergoing even the slightest deceleration. Through the use of an accelerometer and controller circuit board the Carrot-Top can be applied to any helmet and operates independent of the motorcycle tail light, eliminating wires or wireless communication to the motorcycle. With an projected 180°+ of visibility, it’s anticipated that the Carrot-Top will significantly increase the awareness of the motorcyclist presence during day and night riding.
Market Potential and Manufacturing
With approximately 9.47 million motorcycles in the U.S. and nearly 200 million globally, it’s estimated by the NHTSA that in the U.S. alone, that 57% of motorcyclist wear helmets. Currently no similar device is available on the market for motorcyclists or cyclists alike. If market potential is conservatively estimated at 5% of the helmet users, the potential market could reach nearly 500,000 units. The estimated retail price range for the Carrot-Top is $39-$59. In terms of manufacturability, the unit would be a one-piece molded UV resistant rubber base with components assembled internally. Different colors of the rubber base would be offered. Manufacturing would occur in the U.S.