Hands-free systems for motorcycles: Are they safer?

Four-wheeled vehicles have been increasingly equipped with hands-free systems in efforts to cut back on the deaths and injuries resulting from distracted driving. Manufacturers have started to explore how this technology could be applied to motorcycles, but many are questioning the safety of these devices.

Samsung Develops Smart Windshield

Earlier this year, Samsung Italia unveiled a relatively straightforward Smart Windshield concept. It was demonstrated for use on motor scooters, but it would be a short leap to open up the possibility of similar technology being developed for motorcycles.

Instead of mounting a mobile device, an app on the rider’s smartphone is paired with the Smart Windshield projector. The WiFi-enabled system allows riders to view notifications, maps and other smartphone functions while keeping their hands on the handlebars and simply looking ahead at the windshield. Riders also have the option to set up automatic replies to let others know they are on the road.

The Smart Windshield concept is similar to a number of smart helmets and projectors that have been designed for the same purpose. The SKULLY AR- 1, for example, features a built-in 180° blind spot and rearview camera in addition to a heads-up display.

Although Samsung and other manufacturers undoubtedly developed these devices with good intentions, a BBC analysis suggests the technology will likely create more problems than it solves. A number of studies have presented evidence that hands-free systems in enclosed vehicles are not significantly safer than manually using a phone while driving, and the human ability to multitask is a myth. For motorcycles, staying focused on the road and alert for potential obstacles is even more vital due to the increased safety risks.

While riders may feel more comfortable using devices like the Smart Windshield as opposed to a mounted smartphone, the safety of these devices is still up for debate. Plus, the opportunity to unplug and unwind on the road is the reason many of us ride in the first place. That call, text or email can probably wait until you reach your destination.

What do you think? Will this type of technology be helpful to motorcyclists, or will it simply add to the distracted driving dangers on the road? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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