All motorcyclists fear the possibility of dropping your bike in a low-speed maneuver or at a stop-sign. Most motorcyclists will tell you keeping the bike upright when you’re traveling above 35 mph usually isn’t a problem (unless you are struck by another vehicle). It’s those low-speed maneuvers – including those conducted to avoid collisions – that can make a motorcyclist more prone to fall.
Now, one vehicle manufacturer has come up with a solution that may help riders avoid this outcome. The bike is able to balance on its own during low-speed crawls or when completely stopped.
It works like this: When the system is engaged, it increases the fork angle, lengthening the wheelbase and disconnects the front forks from the handlebars. The system also uses small steering inputs to keep the bike in perfect balance – all without large gyroscopes or mass-shifting devices.
The technology also apparently has the ability to follow quietly behind its owner all on its own.
It should be noted that the manufacturer has not announced any specific plans to put these motorcycles into production. The revelation was to show that the technology is available and likely could be incorporated in the future – and may even be the foundation for an autonomous, self-driving motorcycle.
Our Charlotte motorcycle accident lawyers know this could be a significant development, considering the majority of motorcycle crashes are the result of either operator error or the negligence of other drivers. However, it’s unclear whether this feature would be helpful in a high-impact or high-speed collision.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports in its most recent Motorcycle Traffic Safety Facts that approximately 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in 2015 – an 8 percent increase from the number who died in 2014. There were also 88,000 motorcyclists injured. Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were 29 times more likely than passenger vehicle occupants to die in traffic crashes. Motorcyclists account for 14 percent of all roadway traffic deaths.
Another NHTSA report on motorcycle helmet use in 2016 revealed use of DOT-compliant helmets was at 65 percent last year. Helmet use, which has been shown to reduce the number of fatalities and severity of injuries, continues to be significantly higher in states that require riders to wear them. In North Carolina, all motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet. In South Carolina, all riders under 21 must wear one.
But another vehicle manufacturer opines that at some point in the “distant future,” motorcyclists will have no need of helmets of padded clothing. CNN Tech reports that BMW is in the early phases of creating a self-balancing motorcycle that will help the rider avoid crashes. In addition to self-balancing wheels, the motorcycles would have an electronic safety cage that would allow it to communicate with other vehicles, as well as road sensors that would allow it to avoid collisions. Although riders reportedly would not need helmets, they would require goggles to help with wind and bugs. The company also displayed a pair of high-tech goggles that would not only keep debris out of the rider’s eyes, it would display certain information depending on where the rider looks. When looking straight at the road, the rider would see no data presented unless there is information about an emergency. The bike would also be zero emission.
The vehicle featured in the CNN article is not actually on the production line. In fact, it’s merely a concept vehicle, so it’s not clear how many of those features BMW could realistically build on a mass scale.
In the meantime, if you are injured in a serious motorcycle accident, contact our experienced motorcycle injury lawyers.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Here’s How Honda’s Self-Balancing Motorcycle Works, Feb. 6, 2017, By Collin Woodard, RoadandTrack.com
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North Carolina Motorcycle Accident Spurs Uninsured Motorist Dispute, April 10, 2017, Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog