It’s June, which means if your dad hasn’t already brought the motorcycle out from the garage and at least taken it for a spin around the neighborhood, he’s going to soon.
In this summer heat, it’s a shame to stay boxed in a four-wheel vehicle when you could instead be on your motorcycle with the wind roaring past you, and your dad knows this.
Good Indiana weather doesn’t stick around for long. It’s time to dust the cobwebs off the bike and hit the road.
That’s why it’s a great idea to buy your dad some motorcycle safety gear for Father’s Day. He can enjoy the freedom of the road, and you and the rest of your family can breathe a little easier knowing he’s taken every precaution.
Maybe in your family, it’s your mom who’s obsessed with her Harley. Or maybe you’re looking for some gear yourself. Father’s Day also happens to occur right in the middle of June, and whoever is the motorcycle enthusiast in your family shouldn’t waste any more of the summer without proper gear to protect themselves on the road.
Here’s a list of gear from head to toe that you can buy to keep Dad safe on the road this summer.
Even though Indiana does not require you by law to wear a helmet if you are over 18, we highly recommend that you invest in one.
Why? Well, helmets are nearly 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and roughly 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. And in Indiana, 58 percent of motorcyclists or their passengers were not wearing helmets at the time of the fatal motorcycle accident in 2015, according to the State of Indiana FY 2015 Traffic Safety Annual Report.
Helmets offer a level of safety that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Consider buying a helmet that completely covers your face for extra safety. Also, helmets tend to only be good for about five years. Even if you can’t see damage to your helmet, that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Helmets are designed to absorb the energy of your crash, and this energy may damage your helmet internally, making it less safe even though it appears fine on the outside.
Beware of novelty helmets as well. Since you’re not required to wear a helmet in Indiana, you won’t be punished for wearing a novelty one, but they offer significantly less protection than standard helmets.
When buying a helmet, look for “DOT” on the back shell, which stands for Department of Transportation. That will tell you that the helmet follows DOT regulations and is built to withstand crashes in a way novelty helmets just aren’t.
According to Indiana law, not only do you have to wear a helmet if you are under 18, but you also have to wear “protective glasses, goggles, or transparent face shields.”
But regardless of your age, it’s a good idea to invest in some eye protection.
If you’re buying for Dad, don’t let him rely on his shades or his bike’s windscreen. Helmet visors or goggles offer better protection.
If you buy your dad tinted eye protection to protect against the sun, make sure he’s got an alternative handy without tint in case he wants to ride at night. Tinted visors or goggles can greatly reduce your vision in the dark and should never be worn at night.
You may not consider ear plugs to be “gear,” but they should be an essential part of any motorcyclist’s protection. Even if you wear a full helmet, you’re not protected from damage to your hearing.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says that the average worker can be exposed to levels of sound that are around 85-90 dB for eight hours and be okay. If a worker is exposed to levels greater than 100 dB, OSHA limits a worker’s exposure time to just 2 hours. If the sound level is greater than 115 dB, OSHA says you can only safely be exposed to that for 15 minutes.
At highway speeds, the typical sound level of the wind around a motorcycle at highway speeds is around 103 dB—around the same level as a running chainsaw. This is loud enough to cause tinnitus and permanent damage to your hearing.
And helmets don’t necessarily reduce the sound level—in fact, some actually enhance it, which is why ear plugs are such an important safety feature.
Jackets are probably the article of clothing most associated with motorcyclists. But don’t let your dad hit the road in his leather jacket he got from the mall in the ‘80s.
It’s important to choose a jacket that’s made specifically for motorcyclists so you’re afforded the most protection.
Motorcycle jackets tend to be made from leather or high-quality textile materials like Kevlar, the material used in bulletproof vests. Unfortunately, fashion leather jackets just aren’t made to protect you in case of a crash. Be sure to buy a jacket that’s up for the task.
Whether you go for traditional leather or another material, make sure your jacket involves some kind of body armor. You’ll want the protection to cover your back and chest to protect the areas most vulnerable in a crash: heart, lungs, ribs, and spine.
The jacket you choose should be snug, but not so tight that you can’t move your arms freely. What’s most important in a jacket is that it doesn’t make it more difficult for you to handle you bike in the first place. You want it to be able to protect you in a crash, but you don’t want it to be so restrictive that it causes you to crash.
If you’re buying for Dad, you may also want to consider buying him a jacket that can zip into a pair of protective pants to form a full body suit.
When you trip, what do you do? You throw out your hands to try to catch yourself.
The same is typically true in a motorcycle accident.
This reflex may be helpful if you trip on the sidewalk, but if you’re speeding to the ground at 50 miles per hour, it’ll probably do more harm than good. That’s why buying the right pair of protective gloves is so important.
Buy gloves that cover not just your hands, but also your wrists, and make sure any gloves you buy have retention straps around the wrists so they actually stay on your hands in the event of a crash.
Just like with your jacket, make sure the gloves you buy are made specifically for motorcyclists. Fashion gloves won’t be made of strong enough material to afford you much protection in case of an accident. Look specifically for gloves that offer strong protection around the base of your palm because that’s where you’ll likely absorb most of the energy from an impact.
Like with your jacket, it’s important to strike a balance between safety and practicality. If the gloves you buy prevent you from operating your motorcycle with ease, they’ll do more harm than good.
Proper pants may be the piece of protective clothing that motorcyclists resist the most. After all, how many times have you seen someone cruising on the highway in a helmet and a quality jacket, but they’re just wearing denim jeans?
Denim isn’t enough to protect you in a motorcycle accident. You’re likely to lose an additional millimeter of flesh for every mile per hour you’re going over 30 miles per hour. You want to wear protective pants that will hopefully minimize that awful equation.
Your protective pants should, like your jacket, be made of material specific to protecting motorcyclists and should include some body armor to protect your hips, shins, and knees. Make sure they fit snugly without limiting your ability to move.
If you’re buying for Dad, consider getting him some pants that zip into his jacket to create a full body suit. Or buy pants that fit over his regular jeans so he can easily put on the gear when he needs it and take it off when he reaches his destination.
Finally, we come to the feet.
Quality boots are important not just in case of an accident, but for actual everyday handling of your bike.
Your motorcycle likely weighs hundreds of pounds, and you’ll need to be able to balance it in unpredictable weather and on uneven surfaces. You can’t afford to wear boots that don’t offer full support when you’re handling that kind of heavy equipment.
Make sure the boots you purchase have non-slip soles and support your feet and ankles to avoid any twisting. Again, it’s best to buy boots made for motorcyclists than just fashionable boots made for everyday wear. You probably won’t run into this problem with Dad, but if you’re buying for Mom, make sure her boots at least go above the ankle or else they could slip off in an accident.
Your ankles, shins, and heels are the most vulnerable parts of your feet in an accident, so make sure they’re protected and supported. Your toes should also be fully covered. It goes without saying that if your big toe hits the road at highway speeds, you probably won’t ever see it again.
The Gift of Safety
If you’re on the lookout for some last-minute Father’s Day gifts, you’ve got a whole list of possibilities here. More than a pair of boots or a nice jacket, though, you’ll be giving your father the gift of safety, which in itself is a gift to your family of peace of mind. If Dad’s anxious to hit the road, make sure he’s protected so he can enjoy the ride.
Even with all of this gear, motorcycle accidents can still happen, unfortunately. In that case, it’s a good idea to call an Indiana motorcycle accident attorney for help. He or she can make sure you get the compensation you deserve to cover any damage to your bike or injuries you sustained in the accident. Call Hensley Legal Group or contact us online for more information.