Powerful motorcycles could have their top speed capped to try to cut the number of riders killed in accidents, an influential group of MPs said Thursday.
Electronic speed limiters, already fitted on some scooters and high-performance bikes, could be required by law if the government adopts the committee’s ideas.
"Motorcycle accident rates are far too high. They have been for 10 years," the House of Commons’ Transport Committee said in a report. "It is time to consider radical action to tackle this problem."
Many "superbikes" with large engines have devices that restrict top speeds to 186 mph (300 kph). The committee did not suggest a top speed limit.
A total of 569 motorcyclists were killed and nearly 6,000 seriously injured in accidents on Britain’s roads in 2005, according to Department for Transport figures.
Giving evidence to the committee, transport author Stephen Plowden said he could not see why anyone needed a bike with a top speed of more than 65 mph.
However, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) said it would be difficult to use the law to limit the power of motorcycles.
"I have a lot of sympathy with having a top limit on the speed and power of motorcycles and cars," said Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety.
"Although when the EC ... proposed a 100 brake-horsepower limit on motorcycles, they were not able to get it through because they could not show any real reduction in risk from that."
The committee said the government should commission research on speed limiters to "stimulate a sensible debate" on the issue.
"A case was made to the committee for limiting the speed of the more powerful motorcycles, though some technical issues still need to be resolved," the committee said.
The committee said it appeared to be government policy to encourage greater use of motorcycles, despite concerns over safety and the environmental damage.
"This may be another argument in favor of reducing the maximum power and speed that is available on these vehicles," the committee reported.
The Motor Cycle Industry Association says road safety can be improved by better training, changing attitudes and improving roads rather than just focusing on speed. Technology that interferes with a rider’s control could be dangerous, it says.
The Department for Transport had no immediate comment.