Basic safety riding gear are: Helmet to protect the head; jacket to protect the body; pants to protect the legs; gloves to protect the hands; goggles to protect the eyes, and boots to protect the feet.
Let's begin with the motorcycle helmet. The motorcycle helmet is the single most important piece of safety equipment you can use to prevent injury or death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "Head injury is the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes."
So, why would some riders choose not to wear a helmet? This question is sure to spark some hot debate in our forum. For most riders, riding is about freedom and choices. Arguments against helmets are: lower visibility, feeling of confinement, not as cool looking, too hot, and other arguments. Some States require that you wear a helmet and in other States it is a personal choice. For me, I feel cool with a helmet knowing that I am as safe as I can be. When it is man against machine, I want all the protection that I can get.
The types of helmets are full face, flip up helmet, three-quarter or open-face, and shorty or half-helmets. The full face and the flip up helmet offer the most protection, with half-helmets offering the least amount of protection. Full face helmets cover the entire head and offer support for the chin and neck. Three-quarter helmets cover the back of the head and neck, but leave the chin open to road rash in case of an accident. The half-helmet or shorty protects the top of the head only and is the minimum helmet protection you can obtain.
Make sure the helmet is Department of Transportation (DOT) approved to ensure that the helmet has the minimum safety requirements. In the United States, States that require helmets must be DOT certified. DOT certified helmets have a DOT symbol on the back of the helmet. If a policeman stops you while riding a motorcycle in a State that requires helmets, he/she will check for the DOT approval. Always try to buy the helmet new, so you know that it hasn't been in any crashes or dropped and lost protection effectiveness.
Choosing the correct fit in a helmet is important. When choosing a helmet, get a specialist from the vendor to help you with the correct fit. If ordering online, the vendor should have a measuring or fit chart. The helmet should be snug, without wiggling left, right, or front to back. If it is too loose, the force of the wind can move your helmet around on your head, thus distracting from your ride.
Whether you wear a helmet or not, if it is not State regulated in your State, can be a personal choice.
Until next week, ride safe.