The science behind the skid; Police wrecking motorcycles on purpose
By Maggie Vespa. CREATED Sep 18, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The numbers are astounding.
More than 5,000 Americans die in motorcycle crashes per year.
That's at least 13 a day or one every two hours.
Local authorities are working to get a better grasp on what happens when our roadways turn deadly.
Southern Arizona is no stranger.
Tucson has seen more than half a dozen motorcycle wrecks this month alone, and half of them were fatal.
When first responders arrive on scene the wreckage can be overwhelming.
"Seeing a motorcycle crash like that is always chilling, especially when you hear the scraping of the metal," said Lt. Chris Olson.
And that is why they are taking a closer look at the science of the skid.
9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked, "Were eople who thought they would never use their high school math past high school proven wrong today?"
"That's correct," said Olson.
Wednesday Oro Valley police partnered with experts from Northwestern University to see how police cruisers and motorcycles and civilian bikes faired when the driver, flying down pavement, hits the brakes, and sometimes slides in sideways.
Lead instructor Mike DiTallo says smart cars and electronic brakes have raised the bar.
"So before, when you didn't have ABS and you had really dark tire marks on the road," he said. "Well those really dark tire marks are going away. So we have to figure out different ways to investigate and interpret the evidence."
Case in chilling point? The police motorcycle with a modern anti lock system, traveling 46 mph.
The driver hit the brakes, and it skidded 110 feet.
Officers disabled the ABS.
The bike, traveling at 41 mph, skidded 161 feet.
Both times the skids tell a would-be tragic tale, all too familiar on Tucson streets.
"Unfortunately there's a need for this," said Vespa.
"There is a need because there's a lot of people on the road and unfortunately there are accidents. A lot of them are serious. People get hurt. They lose their lives." said DiTallo.
In case you're wondering, those civilian bikes came unclaimed from local impound lots.
If any of our viewers recognized their motorcycles in that piece, it's safe to say you don't want it back.