There’s no getting around it—riding a motorcycle is dangerous. The National Safety Council says that while motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles in the U.S., motorcyclists account for 14% of all traffic fatalities.
To make matters worse, the number of fatalities among motorcyclists and their passengers increased by 11% from 2019 to 2020, and the number of non-fatal injuries has also been trending up since 2018.
If you ride a motorcycle or on one as a passenger, it’s important to do everything in your power to reduce your risk of serious injury or death. And the best way to do that is to wear protective gear on every ride.
In this blog, we’ll explain how each piece of protective gear you wear protects you in a crash.
Wearing a helmet is by far the most important thing you can do to protect yourself when you ride a motorcycle. Simply put, wearing a helmet is often the difference between life and death when you’re involved in a crash while riding.
A properly fitted and DOT, SNELL, or ECE-approved helmet protects your face, skull, and brain in a crash. Because motorcycles have no built-in safety features, crash victims are likely to hit their heads on pavement, other vehicles, trees, and other hard objects during crashes.
Helmets absorb the forces generated by those impacts and direct it into the plastic and padding that surrounds the wearers’ heads. Any head injuries that helmeted motorcyclists suffer during crashes would be much, much worse if they weren’t wearing helmets.
Your upper body is also extremely vulnerable during a motorcycle accident. Many crashes involve riders landing on their stomachs, backs, or sides and sliding across pavement, gravel, or dirt at high speeds.
Wearing a thick and protective riding jacket can protect your skin and significantly reduce your risk of suffering from road rash. People who experience road rash often experience secondary complications, including foreign objects becoming embedded in their skin, serious infections, and extensive scarring. Severe road rash can even scrape skin down to the muscle and bone, requiring skin grafts to treat.
Any crash that puts your upper body in danger can also put your lower body in danger. Motorcycle crashes that affect riders’ legs can mean broken bones and severe road rash on their shins, hamstrings, and thighs if they aren’t wearing the right protective gear.
Just like riding jackets, riding pants should be made of a thick and highly durable material. They should be able to withstand the roughness of the road, median, or surfaces that motorcyclists come into contact with during crashes.
If you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, your toes, feet, and ankles are highly vulnerable. When motorcyclists crash while barefoot, wearing open-toed shoes, or even shoes made of thin material, they can suffer amputations of their toes and severe fractures of the bones in their feet and ankles.
Motorcycle boots are designed to protect the lower extremities during crashes. Not only do they reinforce the toes, feet, and ankles during crashes to reduce the risk of amputations or fractures, but they also protect the skin and reduce the risk of road rash.
Like your feet, your hands are extremely susceptible to serious injuries in a crash. When people fall, their instinct is to put their hands out in front of themselves to protect their faces and absorb some of the impact. That’s also true in motorcycle accidents, which is why victims’ hands are often so heavily injured.
High-quality riding gloves provide much of the same protection as high-quality riding boots. They can reduce the risk of finger amputation, finger fractures, and road rash. Some gloves also provide wrist support, making it less likely for riders to break their wrists during accidents. They can also improve your grip on the handlebars, especially in cold or rainy weather.
What Other Gear Is Available?
Some riders opt to wear safety gear above and beyond what others wear. This additional gear can provide even greater protection in a crash.
- Riding suits—Riding suits can offer even more protection than wearing riding jackets and pants separately. These suits are designed to be breathable, comfortable, and highly protective during crashes, as there’s no separation and no chance of bare skin coming into contact with the road.
- Body armor—Body armor offers additional protection for riders’ chests, backs, waists, shoulders, elbows, and arms. In order to be most effective, body armor should fit snugly but comfortably over riding jackets or riding suits.
- Hearing protection—Motorcycles are loud, and the constant roar of a motorcycle engine can cause hearing damage and loss. Wearing hearing protection won’t protect you any better during a crash, but it can protect your ears from acute and long-term damage.
When Negligent Drivers Injure Riders, We’re Here to Help
Wearing all the gear, all the time is a motto that all riders should abide by. However, even the most well-equipped riders can still be injured when negligent drivers cross their paths on Oklahoma’s roads. And when that happens, those riders deserve maximum compensation.
At Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers, we work hard to help injured riders get every penny they need for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact our Oklahoma motorcycle accident lawyers for a free consultation if you or someone you love is injured in a motorcycle crash that wasn’t your fault.