Car Tech Makes Riding Safer

The people at Nationwide Insurance are celebrating some cool new tech thingies that not only make the roads safer for cars, but for bikers as well.

Blind Spot Warning Systems. The system identifies vehicles in blind spots. A warning light, sound, or vibration is activated if a lane change is attempted when a vehicle is present in a driver’s blind spot. The system is valuable to riders, who are often “hidden” in the blind spots of other vehicles, particularly large SUVs or trucks.

Lane Departure Warning Systems. The lane departure warning system activates if a vehicle has inadvertently drifted out of its lane. As with blind spot warning systems, a light, sound, or vibration is employed to warn drivers and prevent them from wandering over the lane line. The lane departure warning system protects riders from inattentive drivers, particularly those who drift lanes while talking on cell phones.

Forward Collision Warning Systems. The system monitors the distance between vehicles. If a driver is too closely following another vehicle, the system activates and, with a light or sound, warns the driver of a potential collision. The forward collision warning system helps prevent rear-end collisions, protecting riders from motorists who have turned their attention from the road to a distraction, like texting.

Adaptive Headlights/Night-Vision Assist. A variety of night-vision technologies are available, including infrared headlamps and thermal-imaging cameras. Each allows the driver greater recognition of objects, such as animals, people – even motorcycles and scooters – that are obscured by darkness. Adaptive headlights bend the light around corners, compensate for ambient light, and may also be speed sensitive. Each of these developments makes it easier for drivers to spot riders in the dark.

Notice what all these technologies have in common?  They are high-tech ways of telling morons that they’re being morons.  “Hey, Moron, you’re changing lanes!”  “Look in your blind spot, Dillweed!”  “Are you gonna crawl up the ass of the car in front of you, or what?”  I’m not sure that bells and lights are enough, though.  Maybe they should have some sort of deal embedded in the headrest that gives you a nasty rabbit punch to grab the moron’s attention.

I guess a lot of the danger arises from where you happen to live.  As it turns out, here in San Diego, even the inattentive drivers aren’t all that bad.  Now, I didn’t used to think that.  In fact, when Chris got on the back of the bike for the first time, she was swearing like a sailor at the driving habits of cagers by the time we were finished.

But, I spent this Thanksgiving holiday up in Los Angeles, at her folks’ place.  We were in her Vibe–not on a bike–and even then, the sheer amount of stupidity and blatant assholery on display from other drivers was simply astounding.

If I had to ride up there on a daily basis, I think it’d take about a week before I went the full  Michael Douglas Falling Down route, and just started chasing cagers to their destination so I could gun them down in the street like dogs.

Of course, a lot of the stuff I saw was intentional assholery, so no amount of gadgetry will help that.  But, for the marginal driver, I guess  anything that helps them, however gently, to realize they’re being stupid is a help.

Author: Dale Franks

Dale Franks is the former host of The Business Day, ”a daily, four-hour business and financial news program on KMNY Radio in Los Angeles. From 2002-2004, he was a contributor on military and international affairs for Currently, he a publisher and editor of the monthly political journal The New Libertarian, as well as an editor of the popular web log, Q and O. Dale served as a military police officer in the United States Air Force from 1984 to 1993, in variety of assignments both in the United States and Europe, where he also was assigned to the staff of the Headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe. In addition to broadcasting, writing, and speaking on various topics, Dale has also been a long-time technical training instructor on a variety of computer software and technology subjects. Dale has also long been involved with information technology as an accomplished web designer, programmer, and technologist, serving as the corporate knowledge specialist for Microsoft Outlook at SAIC, the nation's largest employee-owned corporation. Additionally, he is the author of a number of software user guides used for classroom training by one of Southern California’'s premier computer training and consulting firms. His book, SLACKERNOMICS: Basic Economics for People Who Find Economics Boring, is available from Barnes & Noble.