Could Touchscreens Make Motorcycles Safer?
Recently, Polaris Industries, the manufacturer of Indian and Victory motorcycles, announced its new Ride Command touchscreen system, which will now come standard on certain of its new models of bike. This makes Polaris the third motorcycle manufacturer to introduce such a system on its motorcycles, joining BMW and Harley-Davidson. It might sound counterintuitive, but these infotainment systems may offer an improvement of motorcyclist roadway safety.
The Ride Command system offers the features you might expect from an in-vehicle entertainment system, as well as some that are unique to motorcycle safety and efficiency. Ride Command will pair with smartphones to offer riders hands-free access to their phone and music. The central touchscreen will allow riders to see turn-by-turn directions, but will also offer riders information such as the nearest location of a gas station when the bike’s sensors indicate that fuel is running low. Additionally, Ride Command will record information about how that motorcyclist rides, including their acceleration rates, turn angles, and braking patterns, with the goal of offering ride analysis information that could help riders improve their technique.
Motorcyclists already bear a great deal more risk while on the road than passenger vehicle drivers. Putting a distracting screen in front of riders while they’re driving appears at first as though it would pose a danger to, rather than an improvement of, rider safety. However, motorcycle manufacturers offering these screens disagree. Some experts argue that they offer a huge improvement over ways that motorcycle riders have been accessing maps and music thus far, pointing out that a screen with integrated handlebar controls is much safer than attempting to use paper maps, or using a smartphone mounted precariously on the bike itself. Additionally, built-in GPS systems can offer riders important information on the conditions of the road ahead, such as precipitation or dangerous potholes, offering bikers a chance to dodge what could be opportunities for serious rider injury. The BMW on-bike infotainment system even offers alerts on mechanical issues, such as tire pressure, so that motorcyclists can exit the road to address these issues before potentially losing control of their bikes.
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