Highway Safety

4 Ways Mobile Technology is Improving Your Motorcycle Ride

Motorcyclist using cellphone

(Photo Credit: World Bank Photo Collection)

Whether you’re a casual motorcycle rider or a hardcore biker, your smartphone can make your riding experience even better.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 93,000 people were injured in a motorcycle-related accident in 2012, a 15% increase from 2011.  Texting while driving demonstrates a lack of responsibility, but using a smartphone to enhance the safety of your motorcycle? Smart move.

High-Tech Helmets

Motorcycle helmets are quickly becoming more high-tech.  Recently, Reevu, Skully and Nuviz revealed modern helmets that have GPS, cell phone, rear-view camera and music player capabilities.  The Skully Operating System integrated in the Skully AR-1 connects to an iPhone or Android smartphone via Bluetooth, allowing drivers to send texts and take calls through voice commands—no need to take your eyes off the road. Skully announced that the AR-1 will be released sometime in 2014.  However, if you just can’t wait for the release of the AR-1, BikeBandit carries Bluetooth communications systems and other helmets with advanced technology, including advanced ventilation systems and carbon fiber construction.


Current technology enables smartphones to help keep us safe from the moment we start our engines to the moment we’re back home.  It’s now possible to turn a smartphone into an automatic garage door opener.  The company Flash2Pass created the Tap2Pass receiver.  This receiver communicates with a smartphone through the Tap2Pass app.  The system can be installed on up to 7 phones, essentially giving every member of your family with a smartphone his or her own garage door remote.  The four digit PIN offers an extra layer of security in case the smartphone is lost or stolen.  Tap2Pass works with both iPhone and Android smartphones.

Vehicle-to-Pedestrian and Vehicle-to-Motorcycle Safety Technologies

Although still in the testing phase, vehicle-to-pedestrian and vehicle-to-motorcycle technologies will soon become a possibility, thanks to Honda.  With dedicated short-range communications technology, a smartphone can detect nearby pedestrians and motorcycles and alert both parties of a possible collision using auditory and visual warnings.  In other words, the driver’s smartphone communicates with the pedestrian’s smartphone to predict the chance of an accident.  An app specifically designed for V2P technology will be able to determine a pedestrian’s position, direction and speed.  And get this: the app will even tell drivers if a pedestrian is texting, listening to music or on a phone call.

Spot Connect

This handy little device turns your smartphone into a satellite communicator, something that comes in handy when you’ve lost all cell phone connection and are stranded in the middle of nowhere.  Spot Connect assists you in reaching friends, family, service providers, and, of course, emergency personnel. Notable functions include SOS mode, which discloses your GPS location to the GEOS International Emergency Response Coordination Center, and a Help Mode that sends custom or predefined messages to your chosen contact group.  Spot Connect isn’t just for emergency situations, however.  It also enables you to share your motorcycle adventures with family and friends on Google Maps.  They’ll be able to see your ride progress and know exactly where you’re located.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge

Oprah Winfrey has engaged in an important effort to make our roads safer by starting a movement to get people to no longer text and use their phones while they are driving. When you are using your phone while you are driving, you cannot fully concentrate on driving. The short amount of time you are distracted from driving can cause people to lose their lives. You don’t want your unnecessary use of your phone to cause someone else to lose his or her life. Think about all of the people who will be affected by your “need” to simply use your phone while you are driving. Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge allows for one to pull over and use the phone. Although it may seem so convenient to use the phone while you are driving, this does not represent the best driving practice. I encourage you to go to the following website and sign Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge today:  http://www.oprah.com/questionaire/ipledge.html?id=4

When you sign the No Phone Zone Pledge, you will joining the many thousands of people who have been responsible enough to acknowledge the grave danger that the use of a phone while driving can cause. I support the passage of laws in every state that would outlaw the use of cell phones while driving. I do not want the federal government to pass a bill that would outlaw cell phone use while driving, but I would like for each individual state to pass a bill that would deny people the right to use cell phones while they are driving. Each state should rely on a vote of the people of the state to decide whether they want a bill like this to become law. I think that a bill like this would be one that could save thousands of lives each year, and I think it will bring down the cost of automobile insurance for most.

Far too often, I see people trying to do too much while they are driving. The passage of a bill that would not allow the use of cell phones while driving would be a step in the right direction for ushering in a safer America. Although I generally support the government staying out of our lives, I think that this is a moment when government should step in to make sure that it is doing all it can to protect the American people. Too many lives have been lost because people have thought that they could not wait until they parked their cars before they used their cell phones. The time to feel sorry for accidentally killing someone on the road because you thought you needed to use your cell phone while driving was before you actually picked up your cell phone to use it. I really don’t think hands-free cell phone use is any better because you are still so engrossed in the conversation you are having and are not fully involved in driving like you should be. Again, go to http://www.oprah.com/questionaire/ipledge.html?id=4 and sign Oprah’s No Phone Zone Pledge today!

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison