To stay safe on the roads, motorcyclists need every advantage they can get. While they will never have safety features like seatbelts and airbag canopies, many advances have been made in motorcycle safety. Anti-lock brakes, intelligent headlights, and high-tech helmets all contribute to greater biker survivability in accidents.
However, just like distracting new car technology, gadgets developed for a motorcycle enthusiast that enable him to enhance his ride may require too much of his attention. Consequently, this distraction could possibly endanger him, his passenger, and others on the road.
They May Be Cool, But at What Cost?
Let’s face it: a lot of the appeal of riding a motorcycle is the image. For many people, there is nothing cooler than a leather jacket and a sport bike. Motorcycles are also challenging to ride, giving their operators a certain street cred. Personalities who are drawn to motorcycling may also be attracted to new and exciting gadgets now available to bikers.
- Bluetooth headset and intercom. Communicating with other riders in a group or with a passenger may seem essential, and a Bluetooth system will certainly make it easier. However, just like using a phone in a car, when you're involved in a conversation with someone, you're cognitively distracted from what’s going on around you. When you're not fully focused on operating your machine and watching the road ahead, you're much more likely to get in an accident. Limit Bluetooth conversations to essential messages.
- Global positioning system (GPS). GPS units are now available with special mounts for motorcycles. Some may think it’s about time motorcyclists got in on the navigation action, but setting and adjusting a GPS is difficult and distracting enough in a car, much less on a bike where two hands should be on the handlebars at all times. Also, when wearing a full-face helmet, it's difficult to see the small display on a GPS screen, leading to further distraction as the rider struggles to get directions.
- Go-Pro camera. The ultimate cool gadget these days is a Go-Pro camera. Motorcyclists can mount this personal digital video camera to their helmets and capture footage of their rides. While the camera is mostly hands-off and poses little threat while riding, knowing that the ride is being recorded could push riders to take unnecessary risks to try to capture a YouTube worthy video. If your goal is to document a daredevil ride, be sure you're not on a public highway where you could endanger others.
- Heads-up display helmet (HUD). Billed as the “most complex consumer product on the market,” the Skully AR-1 Helmet puts incredible technology right before your eyes. Featuring a 180-degree camera and a HUD, it incorporates much of the technology available in many cars. Wearers can see what’s going on all around them on a see-through display in the visor. But, just like in cars, riders can easily get distracted by what’s happening everywhere but in front of them. Designed for safety, this helmet—which is not yet on the market—may actually compromise a rider from keeping her eyes on the road.
The potential risk of distraction posed by these devices should not deter you from trying them if you think they'll improve your safety. The key is to be aware of when they are pulling your attention from the road and stop using them.
Have You Been Injured In A Motorcycle Accident?
If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident you need to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.
You can also order your FREE copy of our book, "KC Biker Bible."