Machine Design


Charting a safe course

Image courtesy of Purdue University.

In 2004, Marifran Mattson, an associate professor of health communications at Purdue University was in a motorcycle accident. Her left leg was severed above the knee when she collided with a semi. Mattson returned to Purdue after a year of recovery and rehabilitation. That’s when students of Mattson’s graduate- level message-evaluation class challenged her to embark on a motorcycle-safety campaign. So for the following semester, motorcycle safety was the focus of her class on designing health campaigns. In the fall of 2006, the Motorcycle Safety at Purdue Campaign was rolled out.

Mattson believes there are three ways roads can be safe for all motorists:

• Encourage motorcycle riders to engage in safety practices such as wearing proper gear, becoming properly licensed, and obeying traffic laws.

“A football player or race-car driver would not step onto the field or track without proper gear, and motorcyclists need to think about how they can protect themselves as well — from head to toe,” says Mattson.

• Encourage drivers of other vehicles to be aware of motorcycles and to avoid aggressive driving.

• Encourage motorcycle riders to talk about motorcycle safety.

Mattson oversees the Web site that has valuable information for motorcyclists such as proper gear, bike maintenance, and road safety, as well as how family and friends of motorcyclists can talk with loved ones about motorcycle safety. There’s plenty of information for car and truck drivers as well. “Other drivers need to realize that more motorcycles, as well as mopeds and scooters, are on the road,” Mattson says. “Start by making sure you give motorcyclists enough space. A motorcycle always deserves a full lane even though it may look like they don’t need it. Keep this in mind when switching lanes. Also, make sure you are not distracted by a cell phone or radio while driving. Motorcycles are harder to see, and their speed is difficult to judge, so if you are distracted you are less likely to check for and see motorcyclists, and react accordingly.”

"Sensing your needs"

In 1945, Walter Pepperl and Ludwig Fuchs founded Pepperl+Fuchs in Mannheim, Germany, as radio-repair shop. In 1958, the company expanded into other electronics, including the development of the first proximity switch (for the chemical industry) and first trasistor amplifier with an intrinsically safe control circuit. So, the next time you're on a bus or elevator, or in the car, remember you're riding on 50 years of innovation.

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