Risk/reward analysis of PLBs

A recent thread on Sport-Touring.net described a member’s accident while on a solo ride in remote Colorado.

After separating from his bike and tumbling down a small hillside, the forum member remained unseen with a severely broken leg for five hours. Finally, two German tourists saw some accident detritus and stopped to look over the hillside and the rider was transported to a hospital. He was finally seen by a doctor eight and a half hours after the accident.

The accident report got me thinking once again about Personal Locator Beacons (PLB).

The “Pros” of PLBs are pretty obvious:

  • Could save my life in the most dramatic case
  • Could greatly speed up search and rescue in the case of any solo accident in a remote area
  • Works in areas where cell phones don’t (rural Colorado, for example)

However, there are also some cons to PLBs, which is where the risk/reward analysis comes in.

  • Must be manually activated, thus rendering it useless if I were unconscious
  • They’re pretty big — the smallest one is 10oz and is 5.85 x 2.21 x 1.4 inches
  • Would need to be carried on me (in a jacket), since it’s likely I would be separated from the bike. This is a significant risk given the dimensions above — I’m MUCH more likely to break a rib from landing on the PLB in a minor accident than I am to have a severe enough accident to use the PLB in the first place.

So that’s my brain dump on PLBs for the day. Anyone have any thoughts or experience with them?

This entry was posted in Stuff! Stuff! Stuff!. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Risk/reward analysis of PLBs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.