Bike riders ignoring safety gear warnings

Bare skin and motorcycles don't mix - but many riders aren't getting the message. File photo / Thinkstock
Bare skin and motorcycles don't mix - but many riders aren't getting the message. File photo / Thinkstock

More than half of motorcycle and scooter users are ignoring warnings about wearing safety gear, risking horrific preventable injuries, experts say.

A Motor Trade Association (MTA) survey of 338 riders on busy Wellington roads during the last two weeks found 51 per cent failed to meet basic ACC guidelines by not wearing items such as gloves, or appropriate footwear, trousers or jackets.

The results were disappointing, said MTA spokesman Hamish Stuart who was "surprised at the lack of safety equipment worn by this particularly vulnerable group of road users''.

The item of protective gear most commonly missing was gloves, followed by appropriate arm and leg coverings. Riders were also spotted wearing flimsy footwear and open-face, or partial face helmets.

"Bare skin and tarmac don't mix well. Skin comes off easily, and even if it's a slow speed accident, the outcome can be plenty of pain, loss of earnings and in some cases even the motorcycle itself,'' said Mr Stuart.

Additional legal safety standards and compulsory safety training were desperately needed, said Roadsafe Motorcycle Riding Techniques chief instructor Andrew Templeton.

When riders had accidents and were not wearing all the appropriate safety gear, the results could he dire, said Mr Templeton, whose shoulders were prevented from breaking in an off-road crash because he was wearing a chest protector.

"The injury and loss of skin and tissue damage is immense ... any exposed skin is going to be traumatised with road rash and tissue damage,'' he said.

Road rash is deep abrasions caused by scraping skin on ashphalt and often requires skin grafts.

The only existing legally-required safety gear for motorcyclists is a helmet.

"As with most things, unless it's made into law they won't do it. We've got no law, we can't enforce it so we have no standard,'' said Mr Templeton.

Motorcycle boots are also recommended by ACC, but tended to be more popular with larger capacity motorcycle riders, who generally wore better protective gear such as over all - `armoured' jackets, stout trousers, better helmets and proper gloves, Mr Stuart added.

Death rates are generally higher for people who user motorcycles than other vehicles, said MTA, with 44 riders and one pillion passenger killed in the past year.

In 2011, 33 motorcyclists died and 1178 were injured in road crashes, accounting for 12 per cent of all road deaths, according the Ministry of Transport figures.

- APNZ

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