Motorcycle Accidents On Tour: Do NOT Rely On Your Smartphone

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I’m one of those people that forgets stuff, so I do my absolute best to put everything I need for touring on my smartphone or on an app.

For me, it works better. Having everything on my iPhone means I know where it is. Plus it means not having to carry paper copies of documents that inevitably end up lost, wet, ruined, torn, or accidentally thrown away.

And if you route through your menus, you’ll find dedicated places to put emergency contacts, medical information, medicines you need/take, allergies, and a whole host of other related information that could be useful if you’re in an accident.

But despite all of these tech-savvy places to put important information, do you know how much medical information I’ve put on my smartphone?

None.

medical information for motorcycle accident iphone
Images: Apple

My Smartphone Is Useless In A Motorcycle Accident

The reason I put no medical information on my phone is simple. If I’m in an accident and unconscious (or worse), the paramedics or air ambulance crew that come to rescue me are NOT going to piss about trying to unlock my iPhone to see if I’ve uploaded my ICE contacts.

It sounds like a good idea. But if I’m bleeding out or have a leg hanging off, the medical team have better things to worry about than trying to remember the convoluted process required to access medical data from my lock screen.

And that’s providing my phone is even in a working condition.

paramedics attending scene
Image: Mat Napo

Smartphones Are Not Robust

We seem to forget that smartphones aren’t bulletproof. If the battery runs out just before you have an accident, the information on there (however comprehensive it may be) is rendered useless.

If you land on it in an accident and crack the screen or break it entirely, it’s rendered useless.

And that’s assuming you even have the phone at all. If it was mounted on your bike, you and your phone are likely separated. The phone could be over a cliff or 100m down the road. It could have flung off into bushes or under the wheels of an oncoming car.

If your phone is dead, it’s useless to the medical team. And even if it’s not, it’s still useless – because it’s unlikely they will check it anyway!

iphone cracked in motorcycle accident
Image: Laura Rivera

‘Blood Type’ In A Motorcycle Accident

“But what about my blood type?” I hear you ask. “If I’m bleeding out, surely the medics need to know what blood I need?”

Yes, they might need to know what blood type you are. But they determine that through their own blood tests. They won’t check your phone and then pump you with AB+ve just because that’s what you wrote on your iPhone. 

The reason for this is simple. Pumping you with the wrong type of blood can be just as fatal as you losing too much of your own. If anything, they’ll give you O-ve because it’s largely safe to give to anyone – regardless of what blood type you are.

taking blood
Image: Nguyen Hiep

Smart People Don’t Rely On Smart Phones

Okay, so before reading this post, you diligently placed all your medical information on your phone. Is it a waste of time?

Technically speaking, yes. But if you’ve done it (or feel better putting it on) then go ahead! But there are better options available.

Many people use their phones as their predominant way to store important information and then use paper copies as backups. But when preparing for emergency situations, this needs to be reversed. Hard copies (or cards, tags, and wristbands) are the priority. Your phone is your backup.

medical band for motorcycle accident
Image: MedicAlertUK

Motorcycle Accidents: Keep Paper Copies In Your Pocket

The simplest thing to do is put your emergency information on a sheet of paper and place it in your chest pocket in a waterproof holder.

Most medical teams will check this pocket when tending to a biker – especially if there is a medical symbol on the pocket.

Some motorcycle clothing brands also have dedicated medical pockets. For example, some Klim jackets have a dedicated medical pocket on the left arm. And if you register the jacket, Klim will also send you a free personalised STAT card to put in there.

klim jacket with medical pocket
Image: Klim

Medical Tags/Cards

Medical tags that go around your neck (army style) are also good and often cheap options. MEkey is a good place to start if you’re in the UK. They offer tags and also a credit card-sized ICE card.

mekey card and tags for motorcycle accident
Images: MEKey

In the US, Green Chile have their ICE Tag Medical ID (now also available in the UK.)

With many of these tags, you can also attach a keyring to them and clip them onto the chest pocket zip of your jacket. They stand out and can easily be accessed.

green chile ICE tag
Image: Green Chile

RoadID Bands In Case Of A Motorcycle Accident

I came across RoadID bands a while back and they are by far my favourite option. Developed for runners and cyclists, RoadID makes wristbands that are lightweight and convenient whilst still providing critical medical information. They also look pretty good.

The information on the bands can be personalised to include any information you want. But there is also a unique code on the wristband. When the medical team call the number on the band, they give the unique code, and your medical notes are there for them to access instantly.

Don’t want a wristband? They also make smaller tags that fit onto your watch band.

The records held by RoadID can be updated easily through the app.

roadid band in case of motorcycle accident
Image: RoadID

Relying On Smartphones In A Motorcycle Accident: Conclusion

Smartphones are smart. But they’re not the smartest option when preparing for the worst-case scenarios on tour.

With so many variables to contend with – battery life, robustness, heat, proximity, signal – there are too many things that could go wrong.

Take responsibility and think beyond the convenience of your smartphone. It’s there as a convenience – not to save your life!


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Top image: Erkka Wessman

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