Distracted riders a new safety concern

Kymco AK550 distracted bag

Riders often complain about distracted drivers who text while driving, but riders may soon be in the same league of distracted motorists.

The new Kymco AK550 maxi-scooter features a screen that displays information such as Facebook updates. See the top photo on this page? I mean, who really needs to know Michael and two other friends are having birthdays today when you’re out for a ride!

Meanwhile, the new Honda Goldwing is the first motorcycle with Apple’s CarPlay feature.

It’s been available in many cars since 2014 and allows the user’s phone screen to be mirrored on the car dashboard. 

Honda Goldwing with CarPlay distracted rider
Honda Goldwing with CarPlay

They are just the first of many motorcycles that will include these features.

BMW, in particular, is working on connecting riders to each other and the internet.

So, rather than just looking for distracted drivers texting and talking on their handheld phones, you may soon have to look out for other riders.

They will be staring at their dashboard screens, rather than paying attention to the road and you.

Technology outpaces laws

Kymco AK550 Dash distracted
Kymco AK550 dashboard

Unfortunately, it is another case of technology moving faster than legislators. It seems that the industry has been left to exercise their own safety restraints.

For example the Kymco scooter allows you to select and deselect functions so you can choose your own levels of distraction.

In the case of the new Goldwing’s infotainment system, it was Apple, not Honda, that insisted on safeguards.

For example, you have to plug your iPhone into a USB port in the top box or tank storage space.

A separate Bluetooth device with a microphone is also required to access CarPlay.

2018 GL1800 Goldwing wing
2018 GL1800 Goldwing dahsboard

The Goldwing’s LCD screen doesn’t have touch functionality. Instead, riders use controls on a panel on the tank console or a four-way control on the left handlebar.

Apple believes that is safer than fiddling with a phone while riding.

It’s still a distraction. The instrument screen is also a distraction, especially if it displays entertainment information, not just important details such as bike info and navigation.

On the other hand, Google apparently declined to support its Android Auto smartphone-connected infotainment system for the Goldwing.

We’re not sure if that was a business or safety decision, but it could turn up on another brand.

Goldwing dashboard distracted
Goldwing dashboard

Safety conscious

Riders pride themselves on being more alert and aware of road conditions and traffic than other motorists. They concentrate on the complex skills required to balance and ride a manual motorcycle.

Surveys have found we are more aware of our vulnerability and take steps to “upskill” and protect ourselves from crash injury. They also show we are more aware of road rules than other motorists.

Yet there is a possibility technology will be added to motorcycles to attract younger riders that could lead to riders becoming a less safety-conscious group.

It’s early days for this type of technology and legislating for its use and abuse will be difficult.

But it will become an issue.BMW Motorrad creating digital riders information apps friends distracted

If you can actually encourage a millennial to ride a motorcycle in the first place, don’t expect them to switch off from looking at their screens.

Their phone is the most important thing in their life and just because they are out riding, they won’t be switching off from their phone’s almost constant alerts and updates.

Not only is use of smartphones increasing, but they are being used more for activities such as posting photos or browsing feeds which require greater attention.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

11 Comments

  1. Chinese researchers were able to hack into a Tesla via the internet & interfere with the car’s brakes, door locks and other electronic features, demonstrating an attack that could cause havoc.
    Tesla said they fixed the problem & it couldn’t happen again
    but this is the second time it’s happened
    & they said the same thing after the first time.

    Fact is, if your vehicle has an internet connection, whoever’s at the other end of that connection controls your vehicle.

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/20/tesla-model-s-chinese-hack-remote-control-brakes

  2. Software installed in John Deere tractors stops farmers doing their own maintenance. Internet connectivity is a way for the manufacturer to control your vehicle after you have “bought” it.
    Both my friends agree.

  3. Display information on bikes should be limited to that which is essential to run the bike safely e.g. speed, revs, oil, water etc. All other display should be totally banned. Similarly phones, music and other forms of info/entertainment should also be totally banned and intercoms limited to giving necessary information to a pillion to ensure a safe ride. Cameras should only be on bikes or helmets to gather information that may be important in a crash or similar situation. Other uses of cameras, e.g. recording the ride for review or to show others, have a potential to distract the rider as he/she becomes focused on what others might think of his/her ability e.g. will they be impressed by my riding, am I going fast enough etc. Bike riders should be TOTALLY concentrating on one thing, RIDING. Concentration is the application of mind and body to a particular endeavor to the complete exclusion of everything not related to that endeavor. I learned that on my police riding course in 1975 and have never forgotten it and I still apply it. So do race riders. Why bother writing this? Most won’t read it. But if it saves one rider from coming unstuck it was worth doing.
    Mindful Rider

  4. The various state and federal governments will probably put any increase in statistics down to speed and install more cameras.

  5. Riders simply don’t need this “stuff” on their bike imo. Surely they recognise that on a motorcycle you can’t afford these distractions if you value your life.

    1. The problem Gopher is that, as the article says, millennials won’t recognize the safety implications ’cause they’re so used to having all this crap instantly available and will constantly feel the need to use it!

  6. More distractions results in more accidents. More accidents results in more government intervention – heavier law enforcement, tougher penalties, lower speed limits, more restrictions etc. That is what this sort of technology brings to motorcycling.

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