August 31st, 2011 12 Comments » | View blog reactions
We all know that riding can be one of the most awesome and exhilarating experiences in the world, and most of us are wise enough to know that safety comes first. That means safety gear, helmets, the whole nine yards. But in recent years a certain technological advancement has meant that motorcyclists now need to keep themselves safe in a totally different way. That advancement is, of course, GPS and satellite navigation systems. Itâ€™s all very well if youâ€™re in a car: simply stick the holder to the windscreen and glance at a glowing map every now and then while a voice of your choosing barks at you. There are obviously cases where GPS devices have caused distractions which have then caused accidents, but then again, so have pigeons. Overall, in-car GPS devices are a safe and all-round approved means of getting around on four wheels. Translate all of this into the world of the motorcycle, though, and youâ€™ve got a whole different kettle of fish.
Turn by turn controversy
There is one big issue with the entire GPS/motorbike safety debate, and that is that a lot of people who proclaim that itâ€™s dangerous are not actually riders themselves. One of the key assumptions that proponents of this argument make is that glancing at a GPS screen whilst riding a bike is more dangerous than it is in a car. This is based on no research whatsoever, and as such is an unfounded claim to make. If youâ€™ve ever used a GPS or Sat Nav system while riding a motorbike, youâ€™ll know that itâ€™s almost exactly the same amount of effort (and therefore distraction) as in a car. Itâ€™s a quick glance to see whatâ€™s coming your way, then eyes back on the road. Simple. Probably the biggest reason that this debate even exists is another dangerous assumption: that all motorcyclists speed. Whilst itâ€™s true that many bikers enjoy the white-knuckle thrills of gunning a bike flat-out, itâ€™s nothing that countless car drivers donâ€™t do too. And we can all safely assume that these people arenâ€™t using GPS systems while theyâ€™re flooring their car at 100mph. So why would a biker do the same? Simply put, they wouldnâ€™t.
Voices in your head
Ok, so weâ€™ve cleared up the whole safety debate, but what about whether or not GPS devices are actually useful when youâ€™re riding? It might be safe to have the odd glance at the screen, but itâ€™s not exactly convenient. One of the great things about new Bluetooth technology is that you can now buy Sat Nav systems which hook right up to your helmet. By doing this, you can hear the instructions from the GPS right in your ear – so youâ€™ll never actually have to look down if you donâ€™t want to. This solves the key issue that doubters have about motorcycle satellite navigation. Lots of these devices are available on the market already, and more are being released all the time. This method also means that you can put more of your thought and effort into enjoying your riding, rather than trying to plot the next three turns in advance.
Fun, fun, fun
We all know that safety comes first, but donâ€™t forget that ridingâ€™s a lot of fun too. If you think GPS devices are unnecessary distractions, donâ€™t buy one; simply enjoy the pure thrill of the ride. If, on the other hand, youâ€™d like a few pointers when youâ€™re on two wheels, a GPS system can be a very safe way to do this (whether thatâ€™s bike-mounted or a Bluetooth solution). More than anything else, remember the cardinal rule: enjoy yourself!
This post was written by guest blogger Kelly Darmer.
Kelly Darmer is a travel fanatic and practically lives for road trips, and owns both a CBR 600 and a beaten-up moped (both pink). She is equally as comfortable on the open road as she is the open seas, and writes on behalf of Iglu Cruise who offer cruises from UK ports.