Starting July 26, the IATF will start to impose a hefty fine on anyone caught without the approved barrier design. Photo from ABS-CBN News

Putting a separator will compromise safety of riders, top motorcycle manufacturers say

Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha released a joint statement that says putting a pillion shield is hazardous and can possibly void the warranty of a brand new motorcycle. By RHIA GRANA
ANCX | Jul 21 2020

The country’s largest association of motorcycle manufacturers has voiced out their concerns on the safety of the proposed plan to put a separator on motorcycles, to finally allow back-riding in the time of COVID pandemic.

In a statement released by the Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association, Inc. (MDPPA), the association said any additional fixture will negatively affect the stability and handling of a motorcycle, inevitably compromising the safety of its occupants.

The Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has been considering different designs for the said separator and one that was approved was a design submitted by Bohol Provincial Governor Arthur Yap. The pillion shield design uses a clear acrylic barrier held by a steel frame, which will be attached to the passenger foot pegs.

The IATF will start to impose a hefty fine on anyone caught without the barrier starting July 26.

However, according to MDPPA, “the proposed pillion shield will create significant wind resistance when the motorcycle is in motion. Not only does it drastically reduce aerodynamic efficiency, it also makes it easier for crosswinds to throw the motorcycle off-balance even when running at low speeds.”

Bohol Governor Arthur Yap's approved pillion shield design

The MDPPA pointed out that all motorcycle models from member brands Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha undergo years of careful planning, design, and development carried out by teams of engineers to ensure the utmost safety of each unit.

The association further explained that motorcycle safety instructors even advise riders to break free from the motorcycle, in the event of a crash to avoid being carried by the momentum of the vehicle. “Having a barrier behind the rider makes it difficult to do so as it could keep him pinned on his seat as the motorcycle slides out of control. Moreover, portions of the steel frame of the pillion shield could accidentally break off and cause additional, possibly fatal injury to both rider and passenger.”

The group added that fitting a pillion shield to any type of motorcycle is a possible violation of the Land Transportation Office’s (LTO) modification regulations. The same shall be a breach of the warranty agreement between the motorcycle owner and the manufacturer.

MDPPA also pointed out that there is no scientific data that could support claims that installing a pillion shield will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 from rider to passenger. “This being the case, the risks outweigh the perceived benefits,” the group stressed.

In the interest of safety, the MPPA does not recommend any additional fixtures or modifications to be done on the motorcycle without the approval of the LTO and the manufacturer. “It is also the organization’s opinion that the wearing of at least half face helmet with closed face shield, more so together with face mask or balaclava, is already an excellent measure in preventing infection,” the statement read.

MPPA said that the motorcycle riding gear commonly worn by a rider also doubles as a personal protective equipment (PPE), like those used by medical professionals. “As far as COVID-19 infection prevention is concerned, a motorcycle rider’s situation is arguably much better than those sitting inside an enclosed vehicle breathing recirculated air,” the group mentioned.