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How to Ride Safely: Gear Needed for Protection

Can a helmet really protect you in a motorcycle crash? Of course, it will!

Its expanded-polystyrene, Kevlar-reinforced and woven fiberglass construction is just what you need to protect your head in a crash. The craftsmanship behind safety helmets makes them durable enough to protect your fragile skull, and the contents within, from splattering the pavement.

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Use Your Brain – Start at the Top

So, how will your safety helmet protect you? Well, the main purpose of a motorcycle helmet is to protect your brain. Its job can be compared to that of a lineman whose job is to protect his quarterback.

Most riders will tell you that of all motorcycle safety gear, your helmet is by far the most vital piece. A quality helmet will insure both accident protection and substantial impact during an accident. Your helmet will also make it easier for you to see and hear better during your rides.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has reported the following motorcycle helmet stats:

  • Riding without a helmet increases your chances of suffering a fatal injury to the head by 40%.
  • From 1984 to 2006, more than 19,000 lives were saved because of safety helmets.

What’s the Difference between Snell and Dot?

The Snell vs. DOT debate continues on, and we’re here to address it. You may have noticed DOT (Department of Transportation) and Snell (Snell Memorial Foundation) decals while helmet shopping. Although both are dedicated to rider safety standards certifications. Yet, there some major differences between them.

Safety standards set by DOT’s FMVSS 218 must be met by every single helmet sold nationwide. This certification is required by the US government.

However, the Snell Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization. Their helmet standards are set voluntarily, based on self-developed rigorous tests. These standards include both helmets and other safety headgear.

Helmet manufacturers hoping to have their equipment Snell-certified must voluntarily submit them for testing. The process includes seven test-types, from flame resistance tests, to shell penetration testing to demanding impact tests. Once technicians verify that a helmet meets Snell standards, only then will it be Snell-certified.

How to Select the Right Motorcycle Helmet

Below are some simple guidelines for selecting a proper helmet:

  • Make sure it fits properly. Your helmet should grip your jaw, cheeks and the sides and top of your head.
  • Stay clear of used helmets. It’s almost impossible to know for sure whether or not a helmet has been compromised due to an accident.
  • Replace worn-out helmets. The more wear-and-tear, the more protection becomes reduced.
  • Go with a full-faced helmet. For better protection, go with a full-faced helmet, as opposed to half-shell or three-quarter helmets.

Other Safety Gear Needed for Protection

Here’s a short list of other safety gear important for protecting you when riding:

  • Motorcycle Boots – Better for balancing than cowboy boots or tennis shoes. Use these guidelines for choosing riding boots:
  1. Rubber soles – best for providing traction when stopping
  2. Ankle armor – should protect calves, ankles and shins
  3. Comfortable – allows circulation, but stays on during wreck
  • Riding Gloves – Provides added protection of wrists, fingers, palms and hands in general if you fall or crash. Leather is best, as it causes rider to slide, decreasing chances of being seriously injured.
  • Protective Armor – Body armor can be added to your riding attire for even more layers of protection while riding. It can be worn under your other riding gear, or you can find pants and jackets with armor built-in. Here are three types of effective riding armor:
  1. Hard armor – foam interior with impact-resistant plastic
  2. Foam armor – inexpensive foam
  3. Memory foam armor – material resembles what’s inside safety helmets
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