Motorcycle protective clothing : protection from injury or just the weather?

de Rome, Liz, Ivers, Rebecca, Fitzharris, Michael, Du, Wei, Haworth, Narelle, Heritier, Stephane, & Richardson, Drew (2011) Motorcycle protective clothing : protection from injury or just the weather? Accident Analysis & Prevention, 43(6), pp. 1893-1900.

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Background Apart from helmets, little is known about the effectiveness of motorcycle protective clothing in reducing injuries in crashes. The study aimed to quantify the association between usage of motorcycle clothing and injury in crashes.

Methods and findings Cross-sectional analytic study. Crashed motorcyclists (n = 212, 71% of identified eligible cases) were recruited through hospitals and motorcycle repair services. Data was obtained through structured face-to-face interviews. The main outcome was hospitalization and motorcycle crash-related injury. Poisson regression was used to estimate relative risk (RR) and 95% confidence intervals for injury adjusting for potential confounders.

Results Motorcyclists were significantly less likely to be admitted to hospital if they crashed wearing motorcycle jackets (RR = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.69–0.91), pants (RR = 0.49, 95% CI: 0.25–0.94), or gloves (RR = 0.41, 95% CI: 0.26–0.66). When garments included fitted body armour there was a significantly reduced risk of injury to the upper body (RR = 0.77, 95% CI: 0.66–0.89), hands and wrists (RR = 0.55, 95% CI: 0.38–0.81), legs (RR = 0.60, 95% CI: 0.40–0.90), feet and ankles (RR = 0.54, 95% CI: 0.35–0.83). Non-motorcycle boots were also associated with a reduced risk of injury compared to shoes or joggers (RR = 0.46, 95% CI: 0.28–0.75). No association between use of body armour and risk of fracture injuries was detected. A substantial proportion of motorcycle designed gloves (25.7%), jackets (29.7%) and pants (28.1%) were assessed to have failed due to material damage in the crash.

Conclusions Motorcycle protective clothing is associated with reduced risk and severity of crash related injury and hospitalization, particularly when fitted with body armour. The proportion of clothing items that failed under crash conditions indicates a need for improved quality control. While mandating usage of protective clothing is not recommended, consideration could be given to providing incentives for usage of protective clothing, such as tax exemptions for safety gear, health insurance premium reductions and rebates.

Impact and interest:

30 citations in Scopus
26 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 45624
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Motorcycle, Rider, Protective clothing, Crash, Injury, Accident, Personal protective equipment
DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2011.04.027
ISSN: 00014575
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > TRANSPORTATION AND FREIGHT SERVICES (150700) > Road Transportation and Freight Services (150703)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Deposited On: 31 Aug 2011 00:14
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2017 08:01

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