NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — One of the most important aspects of motorcycle riding is wearing safety gear, because it could save your life.
Motorcycle personal protective equipment is a mandatory requirement for all military members both on and off-duty, and is required for civilians and contractors who ride on Nellis AFB.
Though some gear can be cumbersome, awkward, and intrusive, it can also protect you during a mishap.
Imagine sliding across pavement wearing nothing but a pair of shorts, a T-shirt and sandals. You would quickly understand why most motorcycle riders tell you not to expose any part of your body on a bike that you wouldn’t want injured.
It is a good lesson to always dress for the crash and not for the ride. Beginning with head protection down to foot protection, here’s a breakdown of required safety equipment.
Helmet: A proper Department of Transportation-approved helmet can go a long way towards saving your skull in case of an accident. There are many different types of helmets and several brands to choose from that meet the requirements outlined in Air Force Instruction 91-207, U.S. Air Force Traffic Safety Program. All head protection must be certified to meet current Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218 or Snell Standard M2005, and shall be worn and properly fastened under the chin.
Eye Protection: Eye protection not only keeps wind from making tears streak down your face but also keeps debris from flying into your eyes. Visors in helmets offer built-in eye protection but some riders prefer to wear separate eye protection so they can enjoy a tinted field of vision that’s removable when the sun goes down. All eye protection — to include goggles, wrap around glasses, or a full-face shield properly attached to helmet — must be impact and shatter resistant, will be worn and properly used, and designed to meet or exceed American National Standards Institute Standard Z87.1.
Jacket: A wide variety of jackets are available offering many options when it comes to upper body protection; from armored race gear to ventilated summer wear, jackets can not only reduce or prevent abrasion injuries but can also look good in the process. Wearing a long sleeved shirt or jacket is not required, but wearing a motorcycle jacket constructed of abrasion resistant materials such as leather, Kevlar and/or Cordura containing impact absorbing padding is strongly encouraged.
Gloves: Hands can suffer considerable damage when a rider is thrown off a motorcycle. Protect your palms, knuckles and fingers with sturdy constructed, well-padded gloves. Gauntlet-style gloves that extend past the wrist are preferable. Gloves or mittens will be made from leather or other abrasion-resistant material. Gloves should be a sturdy, non-slip type to permit a firm grip on the controls.
Pants: Just because you’ve donned a helmet, gloves and jacket doesn’t mean you should skimp on lower body protection. Pant styles range from touring and dual purpose to sport and casual. There are other more casual options as well. Just like motorcycle jackets, wearing motorcycle pants constructed of abrasion resistant materials such as leather, Kevlar and/or Cordura containing impact absorbing padding is strongly encouraged.
Boots: There are plenty of ways to keep your feet protected on a motorcycle. Also, don’t underestimate the importance of keeping your feet firmly planted on the pegs and shin protection from rocks. Sturdy, over the ankle footwear that affords protection for the feet and ankles like durable leather or ballistic-type cloth athletic shoes that cover the ankles is required. Always remember that sandals, low quarters, sneakers and similar footwear will not be used as stated in AFI 91-207, U.S. Air Force Traffic Safety Program.
Garment Visibility: A motorcycle rider’s visibility is just as important as the PPE he or she wears. A motorcycle rider who is conspicuous to other vehicle operators is less likely to be involved in a vehicle to vehicle collision. Motorcycle riders should choose riding apparel as upper garments that incorporate high visibility colors during the day and a retro-reflective upper garment during the night. Remember, the outer upper garment shall be visible and not covered. Also, for those riders that choose to wear a backpack, it is authorized if it has high visibility colors/high visibility reflective properties or does not obscure the high visibility and reflectivity of the rider’s upper garment.
Wearing proper protective gear isn’t only a good idea, it’s required. Don’t be the person who gets in trouble for not wearing their proper protective equipment.