Smart, experienced riders know safety starts before they hit the road. The experts at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency that helps keep riders safe, tell us what to wear for a safe ride.
Always Keep the Purpose In Mind
To make sure you do important things right, you’ve got to know why you do them. Protective gear serves three purposes for riders:
- Comfort and protection from the elements.
- Injury protection.
- Visibility, through brightly colored or reflective materials.
Keeping these goals in mind will help you pick out the best gear for the safest possible ride.
You Knew This Was Coming: The Helmet
No one should be surprised that federal safety experts rank the helmet as the most important piece of safety equipment. I’ve also written about what the Motorcycle Safety Foundation says about it.
NHTSA advises you to check for the DOT label on the helmet to be sure it meets federal safety standards. Be sure it fits comfortably and snugly. And don’t forget to fasten it, or it will do you no good when you need it most.
NHTSA recommends this even if your bike has a windshield. You’ve got to protect your eyes against insects, dirt, rocks, and even the wind—or you could be driving blind.
This can be remedied with a helmet that has a face shield, goggles, or safety glasses. They should be scratch free and shatterproof. At night, use a clear shield.
Jackets and Pants
These items provide your best shot at two vital safety needs for all riders. They protect most of your body from abrasions and afford other drivers better visibility of you. Let’s unpack that some:
- Material. It needs to be durable, like leather.
- Coloring. NHTSA somberly reminds us that a startlingly high percentage of crashes occur because the other driver didn’t see the bike in time. In addition, NHTSA informs us that upper body clothing should be decked out in bright colors. Reflective orange or yellow vests worn over jackets are good. Any reflective material on clothing, the helmet, and the bike helps.
- Jacket. Yes, you need one, because long sleeves protect your arms.
- Pants. Don’t wear shorts. If you go down, one of the first things to rub the road could be your legs. Don’t wear baggy or boot-cut pants either—they can get caught up in the chain or other parts of the bike.
Protect Your Hands
NHTSA also recommends non-slip gloves to protect your hands and help you keep a firm grip on the handlebars. The experts rate leather gloves or fabric gloves with leather palms and grip strips on the fingers as excellent for providing the protection you need.
No Flip Flops
Proper footwear protects your feet from being ripped up or even worse, crushed. Few riders should have a problem with this: the best footwear is leather boots. NHTSA describes “a good second choice” as athletic shoes that cover the ankles. They advise against sandals, tennis shoes, or anything else since these types of shoes provide little protection. And make sure those shoelaces don’t dangle—they can get caught up in the bike.
When It’s Not Your Fault
Try as you might, you can’t always protect yourself from dangerous choices made by other drivers. If you get hurt in a serious motorcycle accident and have questions about your legal rights, feel free to fill out our Get Help Now form that’s right on this page. You’ll get answers from an experienced motorcycle crash attorney.