As an eye witness to a near fatal motorcycle accident on a busy major interstate highway, I can say unequivocally that wearing motorcycle safety gear is absolutely essential when seated on a moving motorcycle! Even if that gear is not the best that money can buy, it is better by far to wear adequate gear than to wear no safety gear at all.
Motorcycle riding in our culture is mostly a pursuit of passion than of necessity, as in places like Europe or Asia. In this country we ride for the pleasure, the thrill, the adventure, and for the fun of it. Yet there are many riders, experienced as well as novices, that insist on riding without the proper gear, especially a quietest motorcycle helmet. They ride as if they’re flaunting their ability to predict when the next accident will occur, as though they could just choose not to ride on that day. If that were possible there just would not be any motorcycle accidents.
Ironically, on the night of my friend’s accident, Ben Roethlisberger, famed quarterback of the Pittsburg Steelers, was also in a near fatal motorcycle accident in which he was not wearing a helmet. He suffered multiple traumatic injuries to his head after he hit the oncoming automobile that turned in front of him. Up until the day of his accident, Ben was a proponent of the Abate movement, meaning that he was an advocate for the right to chose not to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. Here is a quote from an Associated Press release that was posted on MSNBC.com a few days after his accident: “A contrite Ben Roethlisberger pledged to wear a helmet if he rides a motorcycle again… In his first comments since crashing his motorcycle and undergoing seven hours of surgery, Roethlisberger released a statement through the team Thursday in which he apologized to the Steelers, fans and his family, and said he was lucky to have survived.”
In the state of Pennsylvania mandatory motorcycle helmet laws were repealed in 2003. In many other states throughout the country there are motorcycle clubs and groups that advocate and lobby for the right not to wear a helmet when riding. These riders sometimes ride sleeveless and without proper gloves. I write this not to bring in to judgment their mental faculties, or lack thereof, but to point out the fact that there are indeed riders out there that celebrate riding in this manner. I am just not one of them.
Personally, my point of view is that even with the best intentions for personal safety, motorcycle riding is dangerous and risky. It is not for everyone. If you choose to be a rider, as I have chosen to be, I recommend that you wear a DOT, Snell approved helmet. In addition to a helmet the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) recommends that all riders wear a long sleeve shirt (I prefer a well padded motorcycle jacket), long pants (blue jeans), gloves and boots that come over your ankles.
The proper safety gear does not guarantee that you’ll live if you’re ever in an accident. However, I saw my friend wreck, tumble and slide for well over 100 yards on a busy interstate, and survive with only a sprained ankle and minor cuts and abrasions, and that was without the best gear that money can buy!