How can body armor help motorcyclists?
When thinking about how to better protect yourself while on a motorcycle, one rarely considers more than the helmet. Since a common misconception is that the head should be the one key focus for injury prevention, little is known about how protecting other parts of the body might further decrease the high fatality/serious injury rate for motorcycle accidents. Considering that the latest NHTSA report stated motorcyclists were 27 times more likely to die in a crash than someone in a passenger car, and not only that but the number of fatalities due to crashes has had a 8.3 percent increase since 2014, we must further investigate effective ways of protecting the more than 8.4 million Americans who ride every day.
SO WHAT SHOULD I BE PROTECTING MOST?
When discussing motorcycle protection a few basic questions come to mind. Which body parts are you most likely to injure? Do you imperatively have to protect all your body parts constantly? Interestingly enough, recent studies have suggested that for non-fatal injuries the legs and feet tend to be the most commonly affected. As expected, head injuries had the second highest ratio of injury followed by the neck, spine, and abdomen. Another surprising fact is discovered when you consider age groups. In young, inexperienced riders, the most common injuries tend to be in the upper half of the body like the head, face and thorax and are mostly caused by the lack of wearing helmets. Meanwhile the older riders were found to sustain less severe injuries in the lower half of the body, most commonly the feet, legs, and abdomen. In regard to fatal injuries, the main body regions that are involved are the head, abdomen and thorax; the latter being the most recurrent as opposed to common knowledge. So with the help of this data we can see the big picture, head trauma might be a common occurrence but the majority of motorcyclists are dying because they fail to also protect their thorax and abdomen with as much care.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR?
Having realized the lack of information out there on the topic of injury prevention, the George Institute for Global Health decided to fund a research study on what types of clothing protect you the most in the moment of a motorcycle crash. The study claimed that the ideal body protection for motorcycle drivers should be based on two things. The first requires that the article of clothing must provide protection against cuts, tears, and abrasions. And secondly, it requires the driver wear body armor or impact protectors. The idea of this is that the body armor works as a shock absorber and redistributes the force of the impact making injuries to the spine, thorax, and abdomen far less likely to be deadly. While there are obvious limitations to low-impact armor in the event of a high-impact collision, it is this type of clothing that offers the more significant injury reduction since the vast majority of motorcycle accidents don’t involve high-speed impacts. Another key factor is the use of quality protective gear. In more than a quarter of reported motorcycle crashes, the rider would sustain an injury due to the material failure of low quality garments leaving them exposed to any number of abrasions and burns. The main problem manufactures are having with providing riders with the ideal product is the complications that arise when coming up with a highly resistant material that not only heavily protects the driver but also doesn’t hinder their abilities move freely and operate the vehicle since most of these materials are known to cause discomfort and heat fatigue in riders.
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