There’s often a dream of somehow combining the reckless with some security. That’s the appeal of things like rollercoasters: the thrill of incredible speed in a relatively safe machine. This is an instance of the old expression, “having your cake and eating it, too.” Of course, roller coasters are not perfect—there are still accidents and even occasional deaths—but the rarity of these events allow people to feel safe even as they fling through the air upside down.

One of the goals of automotive design is to give people their cake to eat as well. Many recent advances have helped make the driving experience safer even while it remains as efficient and enjoyable as ever. The ability for cars to stop or correct when the driver approaches another vehicle is an excellent example here. Once this technology is widespread, there is likely to be a significant dip in the number of accidents across the country, all without impeding the driving experience.

Full automation, while likely to resisted by many and certainly something that will harm the experience for many drivers, will continue this trend. The more full automated cars on the road, the safer driving will be for those who remain in the driver’s seat.

As technology makes cars faster and more effective at keeping passengers safe, the question arises about other forms of transportation. Airplanes remain highly effective and safe, as do trains, but what about the motorcycle?

It seems likely that the motorcycle will never be a safe vehicle. Riders are almost certain to resist any form of automation, and it is likely to be less effective anyway since motorcyclists are already capable of more awareness of the space around them due to the exposure that comes as part of the activity. While automation in cars may help lower some instances of accidents, it is not clear how many and how well that automation will be able to stop accidents with a small, speeding object like a bike versus larger cars and trucks.

So, the motorcyclist is likely to miss out on the “cake” of greater safety in transportation. This is proved by the fact that accidents involving motorcycles have been on the increase in the last decade, despite these advancements.

The motorcycle has always been a specialized choice, one not meant for the average driver. It is in this danger and the exclusiveness of the choice that the motorcycle earns its reputation and identity. It is not clear whether bikers would be resistant to further safety measures simply for that reason, just as many remain resistant to wearing helmets, despite the overwhelming evidence of their effectiveness.

Considering such points, it seems clear that motorcycle safety is unlikely to improve with that of other transportation. The choice to ride a motorcycle may, to return to the initial metaphor, be similar to those who skip the rollercoaster to bungee jump or the skydive, seeking the greater thrill at the expense of safety. With such a thought process at work, it’s hard to see how much improvement can be made on the safety side of things.

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