Motorcycle Riding Safety

Motorcycle Riding SafetyMotorcycles are great fun. The freedom of the open road, the lack of a metal ‘shell’ around you, the feel of the wind in your face – all reasons that thousands of people every day choose to make their daily journeys on two wheels rather than four. But that freedom comes at a price – the vulnerability that all motorcyclists face every time they set off. While any accident involving a motorcycle carries with it high risks of serious injury, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of being hurt by investing in the right kind of safety equipment.

Safety helmets – the facts
Safety or ‘crash’ helmets are a legal requirement for all motorcyclists who want to ride on the public road. Not only is it illegal to ride without wearing one, it’s also pretty stupid as well. The majority of motorcycle injuries are to the head and spine, as well as broken legs or arms. Without a safety helmet, your skull, a very fragile piece of equipment, is far more vulnerable to even a minor impact.

There are two basic types of safety helmet – open face and full-face helmets. The open face is far less common these days as, although it may offer you the minimum amount of protection to your skull, your face and jaw are still vulnerable to impact injuries. A full-face helmet with visor protects the jawline and the eyes from impact (and bugs in your eyes when you’re riding!). Look on the back of a helmet for the BS kite mark sticker. A green sticker indicates a type ‘B’ helmet, which offers a lower level of protection against impact. A blue sticker indicates the superior quality type ‘A’ safety helmet, and is the best quality available.

Once a safety helmet has been dropped from a height above one meter, the best thing to do is to throw it away. The internal structure of the helmet is specifically designed to protect the wearer from a single impact, as the inner layer detaches from the outer hard shell in the event of an impact to dissipate the energy of the impact away from the skull. Once that inner layer has done its job, the helmet is no longer an efficient piece of safety equipment. So avoid the (potentially expensive) temptation to hang your safety helmet from the handlebars or rest it on the seat. It could cost you much more than the just price of a new crash helmet if it then fails to protect your skull during an accident.

Other equipment
Modern motorcycling clothing is specially designed to protect the most vulnerable parts of the body. So jackets will have Kevlar armor running down the back and at the shoulders and elbows to protect fragile areas like the spine or upper body joints.

Gloves are essential. Not only do they protect you from ‘wind burn’ or even sunburn, but in the event of an accident thick leather gloves will save your hands from extensive damage. The natural instinct is to put your hands out in front of you as you fall to protect your head, so they are often the first part of the body that makes contact with the ground. Gravel rash can take several layers of skin off the palms of the hand, potentially damaging them for life.

Good leather trousers with extra padding on the knees and with a high padded waist to protect the kidney area will last for years if properly looked after. Strong boots will protect your feet and ankles from crush injuries, but do make sure that if they have laces, the ends are tucked in and the boots are done up properly.

Finally, high visibility or ‘HiViz’ jackets and body bands will ensure that you are clearly seen on the roads, particularly at night or in poor driving conditions.

The temptation is to go for black leather every time, but bright colors and reflective strips incorporated into the design of the clothing will increase your chances of being seen by other road users. By investing in some good quality motorcycle equipment and ensuring that your motorcycle is properly maintained, you can reduce the chances of sustaining serious injury in the event of an accident. It won’t protect you against every eventuality, but it will reduce the chances of you hearing those immortal words, "Sorry, I didn’t see you!"

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