In the last few years, there have been numerous consumer complaints linked to Harley-Davidson brake problems. A growing number of motorcycle riders have filed safety complaints and reported accidents and injuries caused by failing brakes on certain Harley-Davidson models.
Consumers have reported more than 425,000 brake failures on certain Harley-Davidson models with anti-lock brakes manufactured between 2008 and 2011. As a result, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation. Preliminary investigations show that braking problems appear to be connected to motorcycle brake fluid maintenance. According to Harley-Davidson, the brake fluid in reported models must be replaced every two years. If it is not done at regular intervals, braking systems may fail due to moisture and corrosion that builds up in the valves. While the NHTSA investigation is still ongoing, Harley-Davidson is blaming motorcycle owners for accidents and injuries caused by failing brakes.
In recent years, Harley-Davidson motorcycles recalled for safety violations have increased significantly. In 2014, there were over 200,000 recalls, and in 2015, there were over 300,000, compared to approximately 95,000 recalls in 2013. The 2014 and 2015 recalls had nothing to do with failing brake systems, but rather problems related to defective clutches that froze up, fuel pumps that caused gas leaks, and clasps on saddlebags that disengaged throwing saddlebags off the back of the motorcycle.
Motorcycle riders face high risks for serious injuries and fatalities in an accident, compared to drivers and passengers in motor vehicles. According to NHTSA, motorcycle riders are 30 times more likely to die in a crash due to lack of bodily protection. Although most riders wear special protective clothing and helmets, they are often thrown from the motorcycle or crushed under heavier vehicles in a collision. An Oregon car accident lawyer sees a higher number of fatalities and severe head injuries related to motorcycle accidents than other types of traffic accidents. In 2015, there were 60 motorcycle fatalities on Oregon roads. In the first three months of 2016, Oregon reported 31 motorcycle fatalities, so total deaths are very likely to exceed the total for 2015.