Motorcycles are exposed on the open road. That exposure is part of their appeal: it gives a chance to connect with the road around you amid the fresh air and sunshine. Unfortunately, it also means that a motorcycle accident is far more dangerous than a car accident. According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle fatalities are 28 times more likely than car accident fatalities, measured by miles driven.
While those numbers might cause some hesitation, the good news is that companies are working on technology to aid bikers when the going gets tough. Much like autonomous cars promise a future of reduced human error, the hope is that applying new technology to motorcycles will improve overall safety. The purpose isn’t to turn drivers into inattentive passengers, but to provide extra safeguards tailored to the unique conditions on a bike.
What makes a motorcycle different
Bosch and Ride Vision are two companies developing technology to aid with cruise control and awareness alerts. Notably, neither of these companies are motorcycle manufacturers. Instead they’re working on accessories to go into models made by existing motorcycle manufacturers.
Each technology is different, but the companies are working on safety features that sense and respond to a motorcycle’s surroundings. Autonomous cars are programmed to brake immediately when there is an obstacle. For a motorcycle the emphasis is on balance and maneuverability, such as the adaptive cruise control Bosch is working on to help riders adjust to their surroundings. A sudden hard brake on a motorcycle can be fatal.
The present and the future
It's easy to dream of how future technology will apply to our lives as we grow older. It may not be The Jetsons or Back to the Future II yet, but how we live and how we travel is in constant evolution. In the meantime, motorcyclists must remember their vulnerability as they rider. A single, sudden action can be life-changing. It’s important to stay safe and beware of other drivers. The only predictable thing on the road is that other drivers are always unpredictable.