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Can a Hi-Tech Solution Help Protect Motorcyclists from Fatal Crashes?

Motorcycle Laid OutTechnology could soon be used to warn San Diego bikers of an impending motorcycle crash. This is good news considering motorcyclists are nearly 30 times more likely to die in a crash than vehicle occupants. Overall, motorcyclists account for 14% of all motor vehicle-related deaths, even though motorcycles account for only 3% of vehicles on the road.

As we have previously discussed on this San Diego Injury Blog, drivers are often at fault for motorcycle crashes. Examples include failing to exercise caution when turning, merging or changing lanes; failing to recognize a motorcycle until it’s too late, whether due to cell phone distraction or simply failing to pay close attention to the roadway; and following a motorcycle too closely.

To protect motorcyclists, an Israeli company named Autotalks is working to develop a Wi-Fi-based communication system that monitors vehicles in the vicinity of a motorcycle and notifies riders when a crash is imminent. The goal is to provide enough warning to avoid the collision.

As Wired reports, the bike-to-vehicle (B2V) system relies on short-range communication technology to “talk” with other vehicles in the area. Once linked, the vehicles continuously share information, such as location, speed, heading, and braking mode, with the goal of identifying potential crash risks. Of course, the technology can only protect riders from being injured in a motorcycle accident if all the vehicles on the road are similarly equipped.

While B2V is still in the testing phase, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication could soon become a reality. Under a new rule currently under consideration by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), V2V may soon be required on light vehicles. If the technology proves successful, the requirement could be expanded to motorcycles.

The proposed NHTSA rule mandates that all V2V devices “speak the same language” through standardized messaging developed within the industry. In a related initiative, the Federal Highway Administration expects to issue guidance for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications. The technology allows vehicles to “talk” to roadway infrastructure such as traffic lights, stop signs, and work zones.

According to NHTSA, V2V and V2I technology could potentially prevent or mitigate the severity of up to 80% of non-impaired crashes, including crashes at intersections or while changing lanes. In its rule proposal, NHTSA highlighted that the technology could be particularly useful in certain high-risk situations, such as when a driver needs to decide if it is safe to pass on a two-lane road without a head-on collision, make a left turn across oncoming traffic, or determine if an approaching vehicle at an intersection appears to be on a collision course.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured in a California motorcycle crash, contact a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.