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Built-in motorcycle screens raise safety concerns

Over the past few years, a great deal of attention has been placed on avoiding distracted driving caused by electronic devices, such as smartphones and GPS systems. One of the ways that this is addressed is by discouraging the use of these devices while driving. However, are there some types of technology developed for vehicles that may increase distraction for drivers in Schenectady and elsewhere? Some safety advocates believe that new on-board computers and screens meant to enhance driving and safety can actually create a risk.

Bloomberg reported on a new touchscreen system that was recently developed by Polaris Industry, maker of the Indian and Victory motorcycle lines. The system, called Ride Command, is a touchscreen computer that will come standard on certain models. Some Harley-Davidson and BMW motorcycles already have similar systems in place. Manufacturers say that the systems will help bikers navigate, as well as alert them of safety hazards and provide alternate directions in adverse road or weather conditions. However, since the systems can sync to smartphones and connect to the Internet, there are those who believe the new technology can be distracting when not used with discretion.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that thousands of people are killed and hundreds of thousands more are injured each year in distracted driving accidents. In 2014, 148 motorcyclists lost their lives in accidents across New York State. Some of these crashes may have been attributed to distracted drivers. New technology meant to enhance convenience and safety for drivers and motorcyclists may seem like a positive step forward, but drivers must have a frame of mind to avoid distraction while operating such devices.

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