Motorcycles are popular in states with mild winters like Alabama, where they can be ridden nearly year-round. However, on hot days or short trips, many riders are tempted to go without heavy motorcycle gear. But is it safe, and is it legal, to do so?
Alabama has a universal helmet law, which means anyone on a motorcycle, whether they’re a rider or a passenger and regardless of their age, has to wear a helmet specifically designed for use on a motorcycle.
Motorcycle helmets should have an outer shell made of a hard material resistant to impact or penetration and have an inner shell with a shock-absorbent cradle for the head. It must also have a chin strap.
Other types of motorcycle safety gear are not legally required, but because the safety gear you wear on your body is the only thing protecting you from the pavement in a crash, we recommend “all the gear, all the time.”
How Each Piece of Gear Protects You When You Ride a Motorcycle
Wearing full riding gear every time you get on your bike may seem like too much work, but motorcycle crashes can happen at any time, and riders should do everything in their power to protect themselves in the event of a crash.
Wondering why you need to wear ALL the gear, all the time, or how exactly each piece of safety equipment you wear protects you? Read on for all the info you need.
Your Helmet Protects Your Head and Face
The most important piece of safety gear while riding is, by far, a helmet. When you don’t wear a helmet, your risk of dying in a crash increases significantly. Motorcycle crashes cause riders to be thrown from their bikes, and if they strike the ground with their heads while traveling at even slow speeds, the impact can be sufficient to cause severe traumatic brain injuries and even death.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wearing a helmet reduces your risk of dying in a crash by 37% and your risk of suffering a head injury by 69%. Full-face helmets can take this a step further by protecting your eyes, nose, teeth, and more during a crash. Many people who either don’t wear a helmet or who wear open-face helmets suffer disfiguring facial injuries during motorcycle crashes.
Your Jacket Protects Your Chest, Back, and Arms
Riding jackets should be made of leather, nylon, or Kevlar. The material should be thick and durable and capable of withstanding high-speed impacts with a rough surface without tearing or ripping. Wearing a motorcycle jacket significantly reduces your risk of suffering from road rash during an accident, which isn’t just painful and scarring, but can also be potentially fatal if it becomes infected.
Wearing a motorcycle jacket doesn’t have to be hot, either. Many motorcycle gear companies offer motorcycle jackets designed with ventilation in mind to keep you cool in warm weather.
Your Gloves Protect Your Hands and Fingers
When you fall, your instinct is to put your hands out in front of you to catch yourself or reduce the impact. But there’s no catching yourself or reducing the impact in a motorcycle accident. Wearing tough, durable riding gloves not only reduces your chance of suffering from debilitating road rash on your hands, but it can even save your fingers from being partially or completely degloved or severed during the crash.
Your Pants Protect Your Legs and Knees
Like your jacket, your pants should be made out of a heavy-duty material that’s capable of withstanding the rough surface of the road at a high speed. Note that even the thickest blue jeans aren’t enough to provide full protection when riding! Denim is only slightly sturdier cotton, after all.
Many motorcycle pants have built-in knee pads and even shin guards to help further cushion the impact of a crash and reduce the likelihood of serious injury.
Your Boots Protect Your Ankles, Feet, and Toes
Depending on how you fall in a crash, you may land feet-first. Tennis shoes, hi-tops, sandals, and flip-flops offer zero protection in a crash. To protect your lower extremities, you need heavy-duty boots that lace up well above your ankles. Like jackets, pants, and gloves, riding boots are typically from heavy-duty materials like leather and other composites, and they may even be reinforced with metal (i.e., steel-toed boots).
What Other Safety Gear Do You Need?
If you’re wearing a full-face helmet and covered head-to-toe in riding gear, you’re set for as safe of a ride as possible. But there are a few extra pieces of equipment you can add to further protect yourself:
- A tinted visor to protect your eyes from glare and harsh sunlight
- Earplugs to protect your ears from loud engine and road noises
- Reflective material or tape if your riding gear is dark
We Help Injured Riders Get the Compensation They Need
Even the safest riders still face many risks on Alabama’s roads. That’s because drivers don’t always make it a priority to watch out for them. And while wearing all the gear, all the time, significantly reduces your risk of dying or suffering a disabling injury in a crash, it doesn’t eliminate it. The lack of protection combined with the forces generated during a motorcycle crash means that injuries are almost inevitable.
When innocent riders get hurt, our Alabama motorcycle accident lawyers spring into action. At The Vance Law Firm, we work hard to help hurt riders get the money they need for their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us today for a free consultation.