The AAUI President urges you, not only to wear a helmet, but protective clothing as well while riding a motorcycle.
Recently, I came across a motorcycle accident survivor, who told me how an oil spill on the highway caused him, his pillion, and another rider behind him, to crash to the ground. Fortunately, he escaped only with a gash on his arm and some other minor injuries.
The accident made him realize how vulnerable a motorcyclist is, and taught him a lesson about safe riding. Road safety campaigns often encourage motorcyclists to wear helmets while riding – advice that saves lives every day. And still motorcyclists without helmets are a common sight on our roads.
There are many aspects of road safety, but what I would like to stress here is the importance of protective clothing. Everyone who rides a motorcycle, or drives a car, is aware of the possibility of accidents on the road. And even though both car and motorcycle accidents can be catastrophic, there is a difference between the two – unlike a car driver, a motorcycle rider is more likely to make contact with the road surface. And this makes protective clothing essential for motorcycle riders.
The scar on the arm of the aforementioned survivor reminds him every day that he wasn’t wearing leather or denim jacket on the day of his accident. Yes, the idea of riding in short sleeves or a thin cotton jacket may be tempting to some, more so in the heat of summer, but always remember that a leather or heavy textile jacket is essential to protect your skin in the event of an accident – especially if you happen to make contact with the tarmac.
To protect the lower body, it’s advisable to wear denim jeans or some other thick fabric. Normal trousers don’t offer enough protection, especially in the case of contact with the road surface. And, most certainly, never ever ride a motorcycle wearing shorts.
Your feet also need protection, for they can easily be hurt even when you’re not in an accident but only trying to regain control of your out-of-control bike using your feet. Therefore, wearing boots or some other safety shoes is most advisable. Never ride a bike wearing sandals or any other footwear that leaves your feet exposed.
More than enough has been said about helmets, and its importance in safe riding. It’s not only illegal to ride without a helmet but also extremely dangerous. There are different kinds of helmets in the market. According to the experts, full face helmets are safer than open face ones. The best kinds have an energy absorbing face guard as well.
No safety recommendation is complete without a mention of eye safety. To protect your eyes from a mishap, it’s important to wear safety goggles or ride with your visor down. According to studies abroad, many riders have lost their sight because of an insect hitting their eyes, even at speeds as low as 50km/h.
Scooters and motorcycles make up the most popular category of vehicles in India. Motorcycling, for some, is an essential mode of transportation. For others, it’s an irresistible form of recreation or thrill. But, in all this, it’s safety that’s left behind or ignored – which, in fact, should be a priority for us all.
In 2016, 34.8% of those killed in road accidents were two-wheeler riders. According to the NCRB, as many as 16,298 two-wheeler riders were killed in road crashes and 48,442 were injured.
Whether you ride out of necessity or for pleasure, it’s important not to compromise safety for convenience. I do hope that all the readers of this article will take note of the need for protective clothing and helmets while riding a motorcycle.
T.K. Malhotra is the President of the Automobile Association of Upper India (AAUI).