While drink riding may be rare, it does happen, but not if a Taiwanese smart helmet fitted with a breathalyser becomes available.
The “Bluetooth Alcohol Detection Smart Motorcycle Helmet” was designed by Taipei City University of Science and Technology and has won best invention at the recent Seoul International Invention Fair.
It includes a breathalyser to test the blood alcohol content of the rider’s breath when they put on the helmet.
The helmet is also connected via Bluetooth to the motorcycle and prevents it starting if it detects alcohol on the rider’s breath.
Obviously the bike would be set up to only start in the presence of the helmet, but that doesn’t stop a rider having it as a spare or the pillion wearing it!
Drink driving and riding
This helmet is similar to the Saab-invented Alcohol Interlock which requires a driver to blow into a tube to activate the ignition.
Repeat and high-range offenders are required by law to install them in their car and on some motorcycles. Check the various laws across Australian states and territories on the Austroads website.
The Taiwanese smart helmet is only a prototype at the moment and we don’t expect any riders would go out and buy one.
It’s not a huge issue in Australia with an extremely small number of riders testing positive for alcohol, but it does happen.
So repeat offender drink drivers/riders could be forced to wear one.
Controversial University of New South Wales Transport and Road Safety Research Centre Professor Raphael Grzebieta has already recommended car-like interlocks for motorcycles.
However, that technology has been found wanting when applied to motorcycles.
Mind you, that didn’t stop him winning the 2019 Kenneth A Stonex road safety award after advocating wire rope barriers, lower speed limits, mandatory hi-vis rider vests and mandatory electronic rider aids.
Honda smart helmet
It’s not just Taiwanese science students who think this helmet tech is the answer.
Earlier this year, Honda filed a patent application for a facial-recognition helmet that would act as a key fob to unlock your motorcycle.
It features a camera on the inside that identifies your face and then activates the motorcycle.
It would sidestep the problem where a pillion or friend could initiate the ignition with the Tawainese smart helmet.
While we expected it was an answer to a question no one has asked, that may not be the case.
Riders convicted of drink riding or other traffic offences may be required to wear such a helmet.