Touchscreens on motorcycles raise new safety concerns

Touchscreens are coming to motorcycles, raising serious concerns about distracted driving.

Touchscreens will soon be standard on most motorcycles after manufacturer Polaris announced it would be installing the devices on all of its new motorcycles and off-road vehicles, according to the Washington Post. Polaris, which makes Victory and Indian motorcycles, is the third major motorcycle manufacturer, after Harley-Davidson and BMW, to offer touchscreens on their bikes. While motorbike manufacturers say that the touchscreens are simply what consumers want, safety critics worry that the devices will make an already dangerous activity even riskier.

Touchscreens on motorbikes

Needless to say, adding touchscreens to motorcycles has raised alarms among safety experts. To use the touchscreens, riders will have to use at least one hand, meaning that they will be driving with just the other hand. Furthermore, the touchscreens pose a distracted driving danger by taking riders’ eyes off the road. That distraction can make it difficult to react to changing road conditions, such as traffic, construction, or potholes, all of which have the potential to cause serious accidents when involving motorcyclists.

The devices, it should be noted, can be used for some ostensibly safety-oriented purposes, such as navigation and warning about potential safety issues with the bike. However, other uses for the touchscreen, such as texting, syncing a smartphone to the bike’s infotainment system, and being able to check social media apps, seem to have little purpose beyond providing entertainment and convenience – potentially at the expense of safety – for riders.

Motorcycle safety

The touchscreens come at a time when concerns are growing about the safety of motorcycle riding throughout the country. Despite the fact that overall motor vehicle accidents have seen a downward trend over the past couple decades, motorcycle accidents are actually on the increase. As the Register-Herald reports, in 1997 there were close to 40,000 traffic fatalities involving cars and trucks and 2,116 fatalities involving motorcycles. By 2013, fatalities involving cars and trucks had declined to just over 28,000, while motorcycle fatalities had soared to 4,668.

The increase in fatalities is driven by a number of factors, particularly by big increases in motorcycle ridership. One particularly concerning factor, however, is that the average age of motorcycle accident victims has also risen dramatically. Whereas only 172 motorcyclist deaths in 1995 involved drivers who were 50 and over, by 2014 there were 1,549 motorcyclist fatalities involving drivers 50 and over.

Personal injury

Motorcycles offer little protection to riders, which is why motorcyclists are at a much higher risk of being killed or injured in an accident compared to other drivers. For those who have been hurt in an accident it is important to reach out to a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An accident can lead to not only physical and emotional pain, but can also cause serious financial strain. A personal injury attorney may be able to help crash victims pursue claims for compensation, which could potentially help alleviate some of the financial burden caused by an accident.

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