In an increasingly connected world, it’s no wonder hands-free communication is essential for operators of both automobiles and motorcycles. And for motorcyclists, the newest player on the scene is the Bluetooth motorcycle helmet. These helmets wirelessly connect rider-to-rider, or rider to their mobile device. Once connected, riders are alerted to incoming calls, can listen to music, or receive navigation instructions.
Without a doubt, hands-free connectivity is important for keeping eyes on the road. After all, nothing is scarier than seeing someone operate such a powerful bike with one hand, and a cell phone with the other. But the question begs to be asked: are Bluetooth motorcycle helmets safe? What are the risks and considerations associated with wearing one? Here, we break it down for you.
The Proof Isn’t in the Pudding – Yet
Currently, there really isn’t enough evidence to determine with absolute certainty that Bluetooth motorcycle helmets pose a risk to motorcyclists or decrease it. They simply haven’t been on the market long enough to collect the amount of data required to make a definitive conclusion. However you slice it, arguments in favor or against Bluetooth helmets don’t really hold up. Yet.
But there are studies and data that could shed light on the future of Bluetooth motorcycle helmets.
What We Do Know About Motorcycle Safety
There’s no lack of evidence pin-pointing distracted drivers as a major concern for motorcyclists with cell phone use topping the charts. However, one study found that drivers using hands-free devices still only see about half of all information in their driving environment. This means drivers might miss 50% of stop signs, 50% of pedestrians, and, you guessed it, 50% of motorcyclists. If hands-free technology isn’t foolproof for automobile drivers, chances are it isn’t for motorcyclists either.
Another study found that talking on the phone while driving, hands-free or not, resulted in a negative impact on driving performance. While simple cognitive activities like listening to podcasts caused minor distraction, more complex activities such as calculating math problems resulted in serious distraction. Talking on the phone scored somewhere in the middle. If this is happening to car drivers, it’s likely the case for motorcyclists talking on the phone through their helmet as well.
The Future of Bluetooth Motorcycle Helmets
Currently, there’s no statute in the Michigan Vehicle Code specifically prohibiting the use of headphones or earbuds for motor vehicle operators. The same is true for motorcyclists. However, headphone use interferes with one’s ability to completely assess driving conditions. For automobile drivers, they prohibit hearing approaching motorcycles and could result in a catastrophe motorcycle crash. For motorcyclists, headphones could impede traffic sounds, such as horns, engines, and sirens. While doing so is not advised, a driver in headphones could, at best, be cited for reckless or careless driving.
While Bluetooth helmet use and associated safety precautions remain unclear, one thing is certain: motorcycle helmets, in general, are one of the most important safety devices for riders. Whether or not your helmet is Bluetooth enabled, don’t forget to bring it along on your next ride.
Sinas Dramis Law Firm stands with motorcyclists to help protect their rights, keep them safe on the road through educational efforts, and represents them in the unfortunate event of a motorcycle accident. If you’ve been injured in a collision, contact us today for a free consultation.