Driving in Manatee County can be dangerous even under the best of conditions. When you are on a motorcycle it can even be more hazardous. One of my fondest memories is when I purchased my 1973 Harley Davidson Sportster. Back then you did not take a safety course or obtain a license with a motorcycle endorsement. Things have changed, some for the better and some for the worse. Regardless of the changes, there are ways that you can protect yourself while riding a motorcycle.
Wearing the right gear can make all the difference. Accidents can happen to anyone. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, one out of every five motorcycle accidents results in head or neck injuries. These injuries can be reduced by wearing an approved helmet. There are two primary types of helmets, three-quarters and full face. They provide different levels of coverage. To make sure you get the most protection from your helmet, make sure it meets U.S. Department of Transportation and state standards, that it fits snugly all the way around and that it has no obvious defects such as cracks, loose padding or frayed straps. Whatever type of helmet you chose to wear, make sure to keep it fastened securely while riding, or it may fly off your head in an accident. Not wearing a helmet should not be an option you should even consider.
In addition to an approved helmet, you should consider eye and face protection. Wind, dust, dirt, rain, insects and debris thrown up by other vehicles can cause serious injuries. You can protect yourself from these by wearing a face shield. A plastic, shatter-resistant one will also help protect your face in the event of an accident. Goggles will protect your eyes if you’re not wearing a face shield. Make sure your eye and face protection is free of scratches and resistant to penetrations. They should also provide you a clear view to either side and fasten securely so they do not blow off.
Wearing the right clothing will help protect you in case of an accident. The proper clothing also will provide protection from heat, cold, debris and hot and moving parts of your motorcycle. Leather jacket and pants should cover arms and legs completely and fit snugly enough to keep from flapping in the wind. While leather is your best protection, sturdy synthetic materials are a good alternative. Boots or shoes should cover your ankles. Soles should be hard and slip-resistant; tuck laces in so they don’t get caught on your motorcycle. Gloves will give you a better grip and help protect your hands.
Riding a motorcycle in Florida can be fun and exciting. Taking a few extra minutes to make sure you are properly outfitted can make your ride safer and more enjoyable. While there are plenty of things on the highway that can cause you trouble, making sure you have the right gear will help ensure that you have adequate protection should an unfortunate incident occur.
Wayne Scroggins, president and owner of Scroggins Insurance Agency, 6505 Cortez Road, Bradenton, can be reached at (941) 795-1500.