The Truth About Loud Pipes and Motorcycle Safety

Lily Smith

Updated Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 10:23 AM CDT

The Truth About Loud Pipes and Motorcycle Safety

Debunking the Myth of "Loud Pipes Save Lives"

Motorcycle enthusiasts often tout the belief that "Loud Pipes Save Lives," suggesting that the noise produced by motorcycles can make them more noticeable on the road and prevent accidents. However, this claim lacks substantial evidence and overlooks the primary causes of motorcycle accidents – driver/rider error and the failure of other road users to see motorcycles.

Harley Davidson motorcycles, in particular, have gained a reputation for their obnoxiously loud and distinctive exhaust sound. Some argue that the volume of their exhaust is so deafening that it can even surpass the noise produced by quieter jet engines. However, the excessive noise generated by Harley Davidson motorcycles is often viewed as inconsiderate and unnecessary, rather than a safety measure.

Studies have shown that less than 20% of motorcycle accidents are fully or partly the fault of the motorcyclist. The majority of accidents are caused by car drivers who fail to pay attention or actively look for motorcycles on the road. This highlights the need for increased awareness and vigilance from all road users, rather than relying on the noise level of motorcycles to ensure safety.

Interestingly, there is a story from the military that challenges the notion that loud noises save lives. In an attempt to make tanks less detectable on the battlefield, an engineer proposed removing the exhaust to create excessive noise and echo, making it difficult for the enemy to determine the tank's direction and distance. This concept demonstrates that loud noises can actually confuse others rather than enhance safety.

While some Harley Davidson motorcycles may not be loud when they leave the factory, many dealers modify them to be loud before selling them. This suggests that the intentional loudness of Harley Davidson motorcycles is a common practice and not solely a result of individual preferences.

It is important to note that revving a motorcycle's engine loudly does not make it more visible to other drivers. Motorcycle accidents primarily occur due to rider mistakes and the failure of other road users to see motorcycles. Making excessive noise is considered selfish and does not contribute to overall safety.

The issue of obnoxiously loud vehicles extends beyond Harley Davidson motorcycles and applies to any vehicle intentionally made loud. While some may not mind the noise on the highway, it becomes a problem when it disrupts people's sleep, especially for those who work odd hours. Consideration for others should be a priority when choosing to modify a vehicle's noise level.

Some individuals perceive loud Harley Davidson motorcycles as a form of compensation for personal insecurities. They compare loud Harley riders to those who drive jacked-up trucks, suggesting that the noise is a way to compensate for perceived shortcomings. However, this perception does not justify the disturbance caused by excessive noise.

The belief that "Loud Pipes Save Lives" lacks substantial evidence. Motorcycle accidents are primarily caused by driver/rider error and the failure of other road users to see motorcycles. The excessive noise produced by Harley Davidson motorcycles is often viewed as inconsiderate and unnecessary, rather than a safety measure. It is important to prioritize awareness, vigilance, and consideration for others on the road to ensure motorcycle safety.

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