As if they weren’t concerning already, motorcycles are about to reach a whole new level of dangerous. You’ve seen the campaigns, could probably guess the trends off the top of your head and may have even witnessed the effects firsthand. There’s simply no way around it; phones and driving are not just a bad combination, but a deadly one and a pandemic, as recent studies show. The negative effects of texting and driving have now surpassed those of drunk driving. Yet as technology leads the innovative front — always one step ahead of legislation and enforcement — a new player has joined the game.

Could Helmets Be Doing More Harm?

Helmets are supposed to keep the rider safe, though they may actually be hiding an insurmountable danger to cyclists and everyone else on the road. The debate continues on hands-free technology and its distractions to driving, but motorcycle helmets and others now come with Bluetooth technology that is raising some major concerns. Think about it: it’s scary enough to envision a rider trying to operate a powerful motorcycle with one hand while finishing a text on the other, but take it one step further to an amplified audio output confined within the hidden realm of a helmet. A rider may be caught off guard by an incoming call, painfully loud ringer or notification, let alone the conscious distraction of simply carrying on conversation while operating their bike. They could even be blaring music! If anyone has to be especially aware of traffic and the sound of approaching vehicles, it should most assuredly be the vulnerable cyclist.

Eyes and Ears On the Road

Without airbags and the added element of a vehicular exoskeleton, a rider’s best friend is his/her focus and awareness to surroundings — namely, the sights and sounds of the road. A rider must not only keep tabs on the surrounding motorists but also their very own proximity and effect on traffic. When a cyclist limits their eyes and ears it is both dangerous and irresponsible. It’s a lose-lose in the fight to make our roads safer. Helmets may protect the skull, but tinted visors limit visibility and this latest update doesn’t offer any resolve. What’s most scary is the fact that we, as drivers, won’t have any idea as to whether or not a motorcyclist is ever on the phone or using the new Bluetooth technology. For all we know, they could be on a call the entire time we’re next to them. This possibility is alarming and quite insulting to the push for hands-free alternatives.

What About Enforcement?

Furthermore, who’s to say how police officers will be able to distinguish whether riders are on or off the phone? It’s all concealed in that object that was supposed to make riding a motorcycle a tad bit safer. The choice will ultimately come down to the user, regardless of the law. We’ve seen this trend already, with drivers who constantly combat or flat out ignore the dangers, day to day, and continue their phone usage behind the wheel. Just because technology complies with legislation and the written rules of the road does not necessarily mean it is a sound or responsible integration.