Few things can bring you the joy and freedom that cruising the roads on a motorcycle does. While the openness and lack of enclosure mean you can experience the wind in your face and all the best sights of the countryside as you ride past, it also means that you are exposed in the event of an accident. Thankfully, new technology is emerging that can help riders stay safer than ever.
Airbags are one of the greatest safety advancements we have seen in cars. The open nature of a motorcycle has prevented them from incorporating this technology, but new advances have started to put the airbags in specialized biker clothing instead. Airbag clothing can help riders avoid the serious injuries associated with motorcycle accidents. Available in jackets, vests and full body suits, the clothes work by having sensors that can detect an impact and instantly inflate. This can protect a rider’s vital organs and provide a cushion for both ground or vehicle impacts.
Helmets for motorcycle riders are nothing new, but that doesn’t mean technology can’t improve this old standby. New materials are starting to replace the old expanded-polystyrene standard. Composites of kevlar and fiberglass, and even brand new materials like Koroyd, are better suited to absorbing impacts and shielding your head. Interior-helmet options, like multi-directional impact protection systems, allow the helmet to rotate on your head to a greater degree, giving more concussion protection. Meanwhile, augmented reality and heads up displays are nearing viability for helmets as well, which will give riders unprecedented views of the roadway, even in sub-optimal conditions.
Another big car safety advance now making its way to motorcycles is the anti-lock brake system. As with cars, ABS systems on motorcycles prevent brakes from locking and causing dangerous skidding, resulting in significantly reduced stopping time and distance. Because the system works automatically, it is almost always faster than human reflexes and will pop into action when you need it the most, such as when a car swerves in front of your motorcycle. ABS on motorcycles results in a 31 percent reduction in fatal accidents across comparable models.
One of the biggest issues faced by bike riders is visibility. All too often, enclosed vehicle drivers just don’t pay enough attention and don’t see a motorcycle before they change lanes or make a turn. A promising development that may help take this aspect out of human hands is vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems. To put it simply, a V2V system lets all vehicles— cars, motorcycles, delivery vehicles and even big rigs—communicate with each other and ensure all vehicles are aware of each other. By outsourcing vehicle awareness to a computer, a warning will alert or even prevent a driver from performing a dangerous maneuver. When that SUV tries to pull out in front of you, an alarm will sound to alert the driver to hit the brakes, letting you ride past safely.
We all know the road can be dangerous. Between drivers under the influence or fiddling with phones, it can be especially hazardous for a motorcycle rider. However, with new and emerging safety advances, riding your bike is becoming a much safer endeavor.
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