Schmitt Mulhern, LLC

Who will benefit most from self-driving cars? (A surprise answer.)

The fascination people have for the emerging technology of autonomous cars - cars that drive themselves - usually centers on the elimination of cars crashing into other cars.

But there's another major beneficiary, if this technology takes off as planned - bikers, and the motorcycle industry.

That wagging finger in the mind

Think about it. The great attraction of cycling is that it's affordable and fun. But what keeps people from buying motorcycles? That wagging finger in the mind that keeps telling you: "You'll break your neck."

If that fear is quieted by self-driving technology ... if cars can't help seeing motorcycles because highly accurate sensors have taken over the business of seeing ... if motorcycling is no longer limited to the thrill-seeking, risk-taking rider ... motorcycle sales will explode.

Suddenly, cycling will be seen as sensible for every kind of rider - not just the fearless cyclists we know and love. People who have secretly wanted to ride, but didn't want to die young, will invest in their no-longer-scary dream.

'I never saw the cycle'

A recent article in the Chicago Tribune described the change this way:

One fifth of all motorcycle fatalities involve a simple left turn. A car turns right in front of the biker. The reason? "I didn't see the motorcycle." This awful scenario is repeated a thousand times every year, killing the rider. It is one of the most dangerous things that can happen to a cyclist accounting for 20 percent of all deaths. The other killing accident is when the motorist doesn't see the cyclist riding alongside, and veers into the cycle.

With the new cars, these accidents stop happening. Instead of human eyes taking responsible for navigation, robot eyes do the looking. They can either alert the conventional driver of the cycle's presence, or they can actively prevent the vehicles from colliding.

"Once every aspiring biker realizes that the driver next to him isn't an existential threat, sales will climb," the tribune article says.

Look for change here in the USA

The big change will occur right here in the U.S., where motorcycling is still seen primarily as a fun thing to do. (In China and India, they are seen more as affordable transportation alternatives.)

Self-driving cars will be a boost to the economy in many ways. But one of the biggest outcomes won't be about cars at all. They will be about the dream of cycling, which will suddenly lose its terrors.

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Ben Schmitt

Attorney Ben Schmitt

Mr. Schmitt has over 25 years of legal experience in Missouri and Kansas, and he has been first chair in over 100 jury trials in state and federal courts. He is recognized by the Kansas City Business Journal, Super Lawyers, Avvo.com and Martindale Hubbell as one of the best personal injury lawyers in Missouri and Kansas.

Matt Mulhern

Attorney Matt Mulhern

Mr. Mulhern has over 25 years of legal experience and a 100 percent success rate arguing before the Missouri Court of Appeals. He has a unique knowledge of the inner workings of insurance companies and how they will dispute your injury claim. He practices in both Missouri and Kansas.