Here is my slightly angry biker rant for this week!
How many of you are likely to sign up for this highly questionable BMW safety option? I’m having a real hard time to see the value in it but first let me tell you what this is all about before I tell you why I’m confused.
How ECall System Works
The system is either automatically or manually triggered, sends out the location using satellite location data and then calls the central BMW call centre who will coordinate the emergency services. There is no price on the ECall system itself yet but the annual subscription is likely to be around €200 a year before tax with the “tax” probably set at the sickening luxury tax bracket along with helmets, armour and other safety gear that’s likely to save a bikers life.
Oh, there is also one other detail to take into account, in order for the system to work the vehicle’s ignition needs to be turned on which is mechanically unlikely or dangerous (fire risk) in a crash and this is where I have my first problem. I was always told if I had a crash, or even just dropped my bike the basic sequence of what to do is as follows:
In the case of a non serious crash or drop in a populated area I can’t see the point of a BMW Call Center getting involved, if you need an emergency service it’s better, and quicker to call 112 directly rather than going through a 3rd party. If I’m riding alone in a remote or very rural area and have an off I’d have to say it’s a very different matter, I know this as I’m usually riding alone in the remotest areas I can find in Ireland, France, Spain etc. So in theory the BMW ECall system might be a good thing.
However, for the ECall system to work a GPS and underlying wireless services must also be plugged into the bike and functioning (again unlikely in a crash) and due to wireless carrier coverage services may be limited in certain geographic areas like mountains or rural areas. Ideally in a crash one should turn off the ignition stopping the ECall from working, and in a proper crash it’s highly likely the bike is so badly damaged little, if anything will work. Any adventure rider is well aware of this and is prepared for this eventuality with a SatNav phone or the simple and affordable SPOT Trace or SPOT 3Gen system which has it’s own power supply and relies on satellites for location and help request signals if you are unable to call 112 for any reason.
Having an off in a remote area does not really worry me that much simply because I’m prepared for it anyway, and besides, I’m far more likely to find trouble in a built up area with a distracted car driver on his/her phone or in car Infotainment system. And this is what really pisses me off!
Lets add up the approx cost of this “safety aid”
- The Ecall system itself, let’s say a very conservative €200
- Subscription: €200 per year
- BMW SatNav Prep: €230
- BMW SatNav: €550
- Total 1st Year Cost = €1180
- Total 5 Year Cost = €1980 not incl. tax on subscription
Cost vs. Road Safety
From what I’m reading the system might work well for cars in a fender bender, but a bike in a road crash? Seems to me this system will likely only work well if you drop your 1200RT in a car park and need the fire brigade to help you pick it up
What are car manufacturers playing at? I’m fecken speachless at the stupidity of this “safety aid”. The same system in BMW cars (BMW Infotainment Services) allows drivers to surf the internet, check emails and even turn on the heating at home – from the car. Are drivers not distracted and dangerous enough?
On the one hand BMW and every other manufacturer are actively trying to make car drivers more idiotically dangerous to all road users with driver distractions which are helping to kill motorcyclists and anyone else on or near a road.
Then they try selling us the same overpriced, questionable, subscription based and unnecessary ECall systems for bikers for when we get hit by a moronic twat in a car pissing around checking their fucking twitter account with their BMW/VW/Toyota Infotainment Service.
Think I’m wrong?
Here is a statement from the BMW ConnectDrive site
What I’m reading here is BMW, and most other car manufacturers on one hand actively help car drivers kill road users by making more distractions than ever, then have the outrageous bull sized balls to “maybe” help us bikers get to hospital quicker when we get hit by a driver checking his email or FaceBook page!
Look at car infotainment systems this way, good vs bad
|ECall System App – SOS||POTENTIALLY LIFESAVING||GOOD|
|ECall System App – Speed Limit/No Overtaking||POTENTIALLY LIFESAVING||GOOD|
|ECall System App – Internet||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – Mobile Office||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – Email||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – Entertainment/Spotify etc||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – Smart Home App||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – Twitter||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – Google Services||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – iDrive Touch Controller||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – GoPro App||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – Life360||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – MSG Dictation||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – BMW Online News||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – Amazon Music||FFS! – DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
|ECall System App – BMW Concierge Services||DRIVER DISTRACTION||POTENTIAL KILLER|
The Infotainment systems offer more options, but you get the idea. Obviously, like mobile phones none of these are dangerous if the driver has stopped on the side of the road to operate any of these functions. But if mobile phone habits are anything to go by many will think they can operate a phone or BMW’s Infotainment Services while navigating rush hour traffic and avoid killing a motorcyclist or anyone else all at the same time. The ECall system is in reality one small aspect of BMW’s gadget lineup to help a driver get to hospital after causing an accident while possibly being distracted by their BMW cars in the first place.
Again, how f-ing stupid is the human race getting? And yes, I am pointing my self righteous finger directly at BMW and all other car manufacturers with similar systems for helping to make our roads more dangerous.
How about this next invention for the most moronic stupidity award
Now it may seem that I might be unfairly criticizing just the car drivers and manufacturers. And that is why I’ve left the biggest stupidity of all for last. In a magnificent stroke of moronic insanity Samsung and Yamaha Italia have teamed up to create a Smart Windshield for motorbikes and scooters. The Smart Windshield will connect with the rider’s smartphone or iPad to allow the rider to read emails and texts while riding. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this will end in a one way trip to the cemetery for many. And to make it worse the geniuses behind this plan to firstly target this at young Italian riders using their scoots in busy city traffic with the advertising actually trying to pitch it as a safety aid. In Italy, smartphone use in cars already contributes to 25 percent of accidents among young motorists. So I can’t help but wonder how making it easier for bike/scoot riders to read their emails/texts while riding will help lower accident rates.
I can see a kind of sick sense in this from a marketing point of view as to a large degree it’s motorcycle riders who make the most noise complaining about drivers using their mobiles, or Infotainment Systems while driving. So if they convert the next generation of motorcyclists by getting them addicted to their phones while riding there might be less people shouting about the danger and give in to the dark side.
Now you might read this with only a vague sense of interest as you may not use a phone while riding anyway so this does it really affect you. But you’d be wrong, with more accidents being caused by distracted drivers insurance premiums climb right along with it. The longer the trend continues the more you will pay for insurance on whatever vehicle you choose to drive.
TrafficEye System in Spain
Maybe it’s time to start telling the manufacturers to stop making distractions and yelling at our politicians to make vehicle Infotainment and phone integration systems illegal. Of course that is very unlikely to happen if not just wishful thinking. What is far more likely to happen is what has already started happening in Spain.
We are currently being taught by marketing companies that these systems are ok, and even safety aids. It’s bullshit, they are not, and they are getting people killed with young drivers, cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists doing most of the hospital time. Most will find it hard to argue that physically using a mobile phone while driving is dangerous. But so are hands free kits, or bluetooth phone-car and phone-helmet connection systems. If having a hands free phone conversation while driving/riding your reaction time is a proven 1 second slower. One second at 80km/h = 22 meters. Unlike having a conversation with a passenger who will usually shut up to let you concentrate as they see the same hazard as you do, phone conversations cause the driver to visually imagine what they’re talking about. This visual imagery competes for processing resources with what the driver sees in front of them on the road and therefore slows reaction time.
The system we now live in is designed to sell us driving distractions in the luxury tax bracket pitched as “safety aids” that cause accidents and increase our insurance premiums. They are also a fine-able offense when used, i.e. another income for our governments who are happy to rob, sorry, tax us then watch us kill each other on the roads before we become of pensionable age and a liability to the state. Motorists are systematically being trained as tax cows, we are being taught to do dangerous and stupid shit so the governments can milk us for tax at every conceivable angle with tax on the increasing insurance premiums, claims, compensations and fines issued by automated systems like TrafficEye. Then we go and buy more new tech driver/rider distractions like SmartScreens and eCall disguised as safety aids which perpetuates the cycle and increases tax collection for governments pretending to fight for road safety through fines.
Instead of evolution of the species maybe Darwin should have studied the evolution of stupidity?
But wait, nothing lasts forever and in my opinion at least there may be a brighter future on the roads for motorcyclists and new tech is the answer. According to many experts autonomous cars is the future.
Brighter Future and Self-Driving Cars
By 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted and you won’t need to own a car anymore soon after. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, nor insure it and you will only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving.
Our kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car, car schools will go out of business as will car insurance companies. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. Currently we have, on average one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km, so no more bikers hitting Volvos pulling out without looking. Insurance Companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.
Most car companies may become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. Traditional car companies are completely terrified of Tesla. Car Infotainment systems will only get better so we won’t get bored as the computer drives us to work. And if this happens, and the rules of technological evolution suggest it inevitably will then motorcyclists will be far better off well within the next 10 years. For the moment anyway no one is interested in making self-riding motorbikes so we will be surrounded by safe, utterly predictable drivers (robots). Oh, and one more benefit, with self-drive cars Traffic Police will be obsolete and speed cams will not be cost effective just to catch motorcyclists. It will be interesting to see how all this plays out.
Stay safe, stay attentive, and avoid getting close to new looking cars and Yamaha scooters with Samsung Screens, their drivers are not just texting, they are twittering, taking conference calls, dictating letters, Facebook-ing, reading/sending emails as well as eating breakfast, drinking lattes and putting on make-up.