What Motorcyclists Can Do to Increase Their Safety
There are many motorcycle accidents and deaths in Ontario each year. A nine-year highof motorcycle fatalities was reached in 2014, when 32 people lost their lives in motorcycle crashes on OPP-patrolled roads. Motorcyclists are extremely vulnerable motorists on the road. If you go out on a motorcycle, there are a number of ways that you can help to protect yourself on the road. These measures include but are not limited to wearing protective gear, getting appropriate training and review, following the rules of the road, conducting regular maintenance and becoming active in the motorcycle community, all of which are outlined here below.
Wearing mandatory protective gear for motorcyclists is the law in Ontario. Specifically, it is required that you protect the most important part of your body – your head – with an approved safety helmet. Many motorcyclists have survived collisions because of wearing a helmet, even for short rides. No exceptions are made in Ontario on religious grounds despite challenges in both 2008 and 2014.
The best helmet protection available is provided by a full-face helmet, which also gives the most comfort, reduces noise and shields your face from wind, bugs and other debris. The helmet should fit snugly and not slide around on your head as studies of motorcycle accidents show that a loose helmet will come off in a collision. If you do not select a full face helmet, wraparound sunglasses will provide some protection against wind and bugs. Your helmet should be replaced if you’ve been in a crash, dropped it, or if it is showing signs of wear or the helmet has reached its expiry date. Selecting a bright helmet and adding reflective tape will improve your visibility to other road users.
To protect your body, a well-constructed bright motorcycle jacket made of leather, nylon or Kevlar is recommended, with reflective strips, heavy padding on the elbows, shoulders and spine or a one- or two-piece riding suit. Long pants are essential, even in warm weather, to protect you from the potential for road rash if you fall. Layered clothing and rain suits are recommended for long drives. Protective clothing can prevent or lessen an injury if you fall or have a collision, and it can protect you from the wind, rain, stones, debris, insects and the cold.
Your hands should always be protected with leather gloves, preferably with carbon fibre protection, even in the summer. Gloves will give you a better hold on the hand-grips and controls, and, if you fall, the gloves can protect your hands, which you naturally put out to protect yourself. Your feet and ankles should also be protected with sturdy, flat boots that have a short heel and a durable rubber sole. Shoes or boots with rings, laces or heels could catch on the motorcycle’s controls.