By Tony Carter, Incident and Advice Investigation Specialist
I have been heavily involved in the study of motorcycle protective clothing for over 25 years and as a result I have acted as a consultant to various bodies including presenting on Fake Britain on what is good, what is bad and how clothing reacts in crash situations.
So….. I came across a few real cases which I thought you might be interested in, and which may convince or remind some of you the importance of being properly protected, but without the sales/racing/ publicity hype that tends to be rammed down the throat particularly to those of you who are perhaps new to riding. So, I hope you find them interesting and of some help.
Case study 1
Many years ago, an experienced rider having recently passed his RoSPA advanced riding test, is riding to work one morning on his Honda CBX550. He is wearing his leather jacket and leather trousers purchased a few weeks before, having previously not been convinced of the value of leathers!
As he overtook a slow moving vehicle he collided head on with a closing impact speed of about 120 MPH. The rider was found lying in a ditch about 200 yards from point if impact suffering multiple fractures to his left leg, knee, and right arm as well as severe internal injuries.
At hospital his family were advised that if he survived they would have to consider the amputation of both his arm and leg, particularly his leg. He was admitted into theatre and as they cut off his leather trousers he started to bleed heavily and lost in excess of three pints of blood in less than 30 seconds.
They also found that his leg was more severely injured than they at first thought, but due to the close fitting nature of his leather trousers, they had actually acted as a splint and restricted the loss of blood giving him vital time to get Hospital treatment. Because both his trousers and jacket had fitted so well, the requirement to amputate either his leg or arm was eliminated.
Within 16 weeks he was driving again and his speedy recovery was attributed to good well-fitting leathers. Had he been wearing anything else, as he had done only a few weeks earlier, it is thought that he would have bled to death at the side of the road.
Case Study 2
A Police rider was issued with a very expensive pair of black leather full length touring boots as part of his riding uniform. They took about 2 months to break in due to the hardness of the leather, but as soon as they had bedded in they started to collapse and fold reducing the support around the ankle. However this particular force only issued 1 pair of boots a year, and therefore the rider had no option but to continue wearing the boots until he received his next issue. To wear his own black riding boots was not an option.
About 4 months after the date of the boots being issued, the rider was involved in a crash and received serious injuries to his left leg. Despite the high purchase price of the boots, they had failed to provide the protection that would normally be expected from a high price piece of safety gear.
The sloppy fit had not held his foot together or prevented crush injuries.
This accident caused multiple injuries, particularly to his foot as a result of which he was eventually pensioned off from the Police service and registered disabled. The rider still walks with a limp, has a significantly larger left foot than his right, and is in constant pain.
Specialist safety footwear manufacturers examined the boots worn at the time of the accident along with medical professionals, and confirmed that had the rider been wearing footwear even a cheap but protective boot, then the chances are that he would have made a full recovery and would probably have seen out his full 30 years’ service.
The rider in question was me!
All too often riders will spend large amounts of money on the latest high specification motorcycle and pay scant attention to the equipment they wear. Many times a rider may have nothing more than a plastic shell on his head, covering his body with a pair of jeans, trainers and a lightweight jacket.
Too many riders think that the helmet and jacket are the most important items of kit, rather than recognising that head, legs and feet are the parts of the body that receive 90% of all serious injuries, not the upper body.
It should perhaps be remembered that a motorcycle can be repaired or replaced, but your skin is a damn site harder to put right.
The advice should always be:
- buy the best quality at a price you can afford, not because it is a fancy label.
- ensure that it fits correctly.
- if it becomes damaged or worn, replace it straight away.
If you have friends or family considering taking up motorcycling, then advise them to consider buying their protective clothing first, and then use the balance of their budget to buy the bike rather than the other way round.