Motorcycle Accident

Construction zone, Chicago, IL

Background: A motorcyclist attempted to change lanes in a construction zone, not realizing that one lane had been repaved but not the second, adjacent lane. The repaved lane was higher than the unpaved one, creating a step parallel to the direction of travel of the motorcycle. When the motorcyclist encountered the step, he crashed and was seriously injured.

What We Did: In reconstructing the accident, a scale model of the scene was created for purposes of visualization to Jury members. A full-scale model of the uneven step and motorcycle tire was also constructed and tested to demonstrate the mechanics of the tire/pavement step interface and accident sequence. A third tabletop model was constructed to allow attorneys and Jurors to graphically understand the effect of a tire trying to climb the step.

Relevant Scientific Publications:

  • Metz, L. D., “Road Bicycle Dynamics in the Presence of Idealized Roadway Irregularities,” SAE Paper No. 2010-01-0053 [also in SAE SP-2267](2010).
  • Metz, L. D., “Behavior of a Motorcycle after an Encounter with a Road Irregularity Parallel to Its Direction of Travel,” SAE Paper No. 2006-01-1561 [also in Trans. SAE](2006).
Scale model of accident site.
Demonstrative aid.
Full-scale model and tire.
Motorcycle test rig hitch detail.