When facing the daily commute, workers have increasingly opted to favor motorcycles in lieu of costlier passenger vehicles, carpooling, and public transportation. Within the past decade, the number of motorcyclists in the United States has roughly doubled from around 3.8 million to 6.7 million. While motorcycle culture has enjoyed a newfound appreciation, there’s another statistic that is a greater cause of concern – and that’s the number of motorcycle accidents occurring annually, which has been on the rise for the past two decades.
With an increasing number of people riding for daily commutes rather than as experienced hobbyists, it’s unfortunate that these numbers are destined to rise. However, following these tips when preparing your motorcycle equipment can drastically reduce the odds that any accidents you find yourself involved in might result in serious impairment or death.
Choosing the Right Motorcycle Helmet
There are riders who ignore wearing helmets due to the misconception that they negatively impact your ability to hear and see your environment. However, studies have verified time and time again that how motorcycle helmets affect hearing and vision is marginal at best. More importantly, the fact that helmets reduce the fatality of accidents by around 40% is enough proof to never consider going on without a helmet.
A good motorcycle helmet should be not only durable, but lightweight. Additionally, excessive weight on your head can cause your neck to whip harder to cause more extensive neck and head damage in the event of an accident. This will allow turning your head more easily to maintain awareness of your environment. A helmet should also be well-fitted and adjusted for a snug, unmoving fit. A helmet will also improve your road awareness by negating wind noise, dust, and insects that might aggravate you on the way.
And, of course, wearing a helmet will help you in terms of staying on good terms with police officers and your insurance provider.
Equipping the right gear
One of the greatest challenges for motorcyclists who opt for riding for their daily commute is that their daily work attire, especially of the white-collar variety, doesn’t exactly meet the level of protection necessary to defend oneself during an accident. After all, while your local motorcycle club might nod in approval when you arrive in leather chaps, you might find a harder time getting the approval of your supervisor.
While standard competition weight leather is an exceptional choice for protection, there are options for motorcycle protection even for those with a business-oriented image to maintain. Kevlar mesh is a comparably protective material that offers greater breathability and a more lightweight solution. It is also far more weatherproof and can even be equipped under clothing if appearances are a great concern. Many Kevlar mesh products feature leather padding on high impact areas, which are an excellent design consideration to prevent getting a case of road rash.
If none of these choices are options immediately available to you, the next best alternative is to dress in many layers. Your bare minimum should incorporate some kind of heavy duty jacket, wear resistant pants, gloves, boots, and your helmet. Consider wearing clothing which feature reflective safety materials, or even a full reflective safety vest.
While it might not be ideally comfortable and it might take a little extra effort to change upon arriving at your destination, making sure you arrive in one piece is too important to ignore simply because it might seem inconvenient at the time.
This is a contribution by Greg Pickett, a content creator with Michael Padway & Associates. In addition to writing online, Greg is a motorcyclist who drives a vintage BMW whenever he has a weekend when the roads aren’t iced over. Follow him on Twitter at @GregTPickett.