Stars or standards? A review of motorcycle protective clothing03 Jan 2019

A southern hemisphere perspective

Motorcyclists represent an increasing proportion of road crash casualties across the world as the motorcycle fleet grows (WHO, 2015). Helmets are a proven safety measure, credited with reducing rider fatalities by 40% and head injuries by 60%.

However, the majority of casualties do not die, and in countries with high helmet usage, for every rider fatality almost 60 are injured, including 15 who are hospitalised.

In Australia, with almost universal helmet usage, head injuries comprise just 8% of hospitalised riders, only half of whom have life-threatening injuries. The majority of casualties have nonfatal injuries, some of which will cause long-term physical impairment but may have been prevented or reduced by effective protective clothing.

There have been few attempts to establish the benefits of protective clothing (other than helmets) for motorcyclists due to a prevailing view that it could have little effect on reducing fatal and serious injuries. As a result, there has been little investment in monitoring the effectiveness of motorcycle clothing, specifically protective jackets, pants, gloves and boots.

Motorcycle clothing is an international industry largely dominated by Europe but with the major brands available across national borders.

This paper by Liz de Rome outlines the research that has led to the development of a rating scheme for motorcycle protective clothing available in Australia and New Zealand.