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How To Survive A Motorcycle Crash

  Posted at 06:00:00 PM
  File under  Safety
  Author: Jordan Roberson
  Location: Normandy, France

This is a guest post by Jordan Roberson.
The photos were inserted by Mike Werner.
For some reason, many people still don't make the correlation between wearing motorcycle safety gear and surviving a motorcycle accident. Between 1997 and 2007, fatalities in passenger cars and light trucks fell a combined 51 percent, while motorcycle fatalities increased by 31 percent. Surviving a car or truck accident can be attributed to a few things, such as seat belts, airbags, and the fact that the passengers are surrounded by a metal structure. But even though motorcycle riders are out in the open without those protections, many more of them would survive accidents if they wore the proper gear.

Crashed helmet
Imagine your head without the helmet
According to head injury statistics Open link in a new window, helmets reduce the likelihood of dying in a motorcycle accident by 37 percent, and a motorcyclist is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury without a helmet. Without those seat belts or enclosures to keep them safe, motorcycle riders are usually thrown from their vehicles in an accident, increasing the chance of hitting their heads on the pavement, or on other vehicles. A helmet can absorb much of the impact, saving the life of the rider.

Fatal head injuries aren't the only worry of not wearing a helmet. Motorcyclists who forgo helmets are 15 percent more likely to suffer traumatic brain injury Open link in a new window, which can leave a person unable to speak, walk, or even breathe on their own. Helmets reduce the risk of this type of brain injury by 67 percent. If you don't wear any other type of motorcycle safety gear, at least wear a helmet.

Pants and Jacket
Road Rash
It can be shocking to see a motorcycle rider on the road in shorts and a T-shirt. Knowing the potential for injury, which ranges from broken bones to severe road rash Open link in a new window, it's astonishing that anyone would get on a motorcycle without covering their extremities with the right clothing and material. At the very least, jeans and a denim jacket may reduce the possibility of losing skin, but it's still not ideal. While it may be expensive, abrasion-resistant gear is the way to go.

Riding pants made from leather, or any other abrasion-resistant material, are heavy, hot, and high maintenance. Those are small prices to pay to keep your skin intact. Riding pants will also usually have padding in the right places, such as knees and hips to help reduce the risk of broken bones. A riding jacket will also have padding, usually in the back, shoulders, and elbows. Riding wear is available in a range of thicknesses—the thicker it is, the more protection it offers—and prices, so do your research to make sure you get the most protection for your money.

Bata MotoSandal
If you just pulled on a pair of leather work boots, that would still be better than wearing sneakers, or worse, flip flops. A steel-toed boot could offer you some extra protection. But it's really best to go with boots made for motorcycling.

Riding boots come in a few styles: cruiser, street and dirt. They're not only designed to provide protection, but to complement the type of motorcycle the rider has. You wouldn't wear cruiser boots while riding a dirt bike. It's just not done. Seriously, though, dirt bike boots provide a different type of protection for the kind of riding you'd do on a dirt bike. In general, though, boots should be made of leather, and should cover the ankle. They should have a wide enough shaft that the rider can tuck pants into them, if desired, but not so wide that they would flap around and possibly get in the way while riding. The best places to find them are motorcycle dealerships, gear shops, and specialty Web sites.

Goggles and Gloves
Most helmets come with face plates integrated, but when wearing a helmet that doesn't, goggles are a necessity.  Even if you wear glasses, you should still wear goggles. It's easy to find goggles that are large enough to accommodate glasses. They protect the eyes from harsh wind, cold, rain, insects, and any other debris that may damage the eyes at high speeds. They come in clear and tinted varieties to also protect against the sun's harsh rays.

Gloves are essential for maintaining a secure grip on the handlebars when it's wet out. They should offer some ventilation, though, to keep the hands dry and reduce sweating. They should also be full gloves, not leaving the fingertips exposed. Many motorcyclists have lost skin and even fingers in accidents because their hands weren't covered.

Putting together a top-of-the-line gear ensemble may set you back a bit, but safety is worth an investment. If you're serious about riding, and are willing to spend the money on a quality motorcycle, then it follows you'd also be willing to spend the money on items that will help you survive an accident, and minimize injury.

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