Hands and Wrists
Hands are important. They assist you in riding a bike, typing on a keyboard and picking your nose. And the bones in your fingers are among the smallest in your body, so it makes sense to protect them.
Wearing gloves doesn’t appear to make a huge difference to preventing fractures or sprains. Those that wore no glove were just as likely to experience a fracture as someone who was wearing an armored motorcycle glove. Sprains were slightly higher for those not wearing gloves. But the biggest difference is in cuts and abrasions. Those that did not wear any sort of glove had 55.6% chance of suffering from abrasions and cuts whereas the riders who wore proper gloves, that figure dropped down to only 14.8%
An older study by Hurt et all in 1981 stated that those wearing gloves were 50 per cent less likely to injure their hands in an accident.
Your legs are the most likely part of your body to be injured. If you don’t wear any protective clothing, studies show you have up to a 92% chance of injuring them in an accident. In other words, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll injure legs in some way if you don’t wear proper protective clothing. And unfortunately, even if you do wear armored pants, there’s still a nearly one in three chance of sustaining an injury.
Wearing or not wearing protective pants has almost no impact on bruising or not, but it dramatically cuts down on cuts and abrasions (72.5% chance reduced to 33.3% chance) and also reduces the likelihood of sprains.
But if you’re involved in a crash at high speed, there’s not much armor will apparently do to protect you from a fracture. The chance of receiving a fracture is almost identical between protected and non-protected riders. But if you want to reduce the chances of needing skin grafts, wear some proper pants.
And remember, denim jeans don’t count. The denim will disintegrate within seconds of sliding down the bitumen.
Feet and Ankles
I like my feet. They help me walk and kick stuff. They also help me move my gear selector on my bike and press the rear brake pedal. And I’m quite fond of my pinky toe, too.
But did you know your feet are the most likely part of your body to contact the road in a crash? And while not many people don’t wear shoes when riding, it’s the type of shoe that counts. Joggers and sneakers won’t do much at all. In fact, there’s a good chance they’ll come off in a crash.
Over one in two riders who just wore normal shoes sustained a foot injury, usually cuts and abrasions after the shoe came off. But if you don’t want to buy full on motorcycle boots, you can actually get away with a normal boot that secures firmly to your foot. In fact, the study by the George institute showed that a standard boot was actually safer in all respects than an armored motorcycle boot, save for cuts and abrasions. Riders wearing armored motorcycle boots had higher occurrences of bruising, fractures, sprains and internal injures. Not by much mind you, but higher nevertheless.
Chest and Abdomen
Your chest contains lots of important bits like your heart which helps you love, and lungs which helps you breathe in traffic fumes. The good news is that internal injuries are fairly rare, impacting only 7% of riders.
Chest injuries are most likely to be caused in an impact with another vehicle (Otte, 2002). And there is a point at which nothing can save you from the impact with another object. The only protection is avoidance.
Like back protectors, chest protectors won’t do a huge amount to minimise injuries, save potentially from bruising
By wearing protective clothing, you will:
- Greatly reduce and in some cases eliminate abrasion injuries
- Greatly reduce, but not eliminate bruising
- Reduce fractures
Wearing protective clothing will do nothing to:
- Make you a better rider
- Make others around you better drivers
At the end of the day, physics cannot be overcome and crashing into a stationary object at high speed or being hit by a 5000 lb vehicle will cause serious, or even life ending injuries. ATGATT will greatly reduce some types of injuries and slightly reduce others, but at the end of the day, your best protection is being aware of not only your limits and the ability of those around you.
Administration, N. H. (2008). Traffic Safety Facts, 2008: Motorcycle Helmet Use Laws.
Hinds, J. D., Allen, G., & Morris, C. G. (2007). Trauma and motorcyclists; born to be wild, bound to be injured? Injury International, 38, 1132-1138.
Inc., M. C. (2014, August 12). What parts of your body should you protect? Retrieved from Motorcycle Council of NSW Inc.: http://www.roadsafety.mccofnsw.org.au/a/91.html
Macleod, J. B., DiGiacomo, C. J., & Tinkoff, G. (2010). An Evidence-Based Review: Helmet Efficacy to Reduce Head Injury and Mortality in Motorcycle Crashes: EAST Practice Management Guidelines. The Journal of TRAUMA Injury, Infection, and Critical Care, 69(5), 1101-1111.
Rome, L., Ivers, R., Fitzharris, M., Du, W., Haworth, N., Heritier, S., & RIchardson, D. (2011). Motorcycle protective clothing: Protection from injury or just the weather? Accident Analysis and Prevention, 43, 1893-1900.