By Matt Lalande in Motorcycle Accidents on March 12, 2021
It was 20 degrees Celsius this week in Hamilton – the warmest that it’s been since last September! With the warm spring weather slowly setting in, many of Ontario’s motorcycle enthusiasts are getting excited to gear up, bring their bike out of storage, and hit the open roads. However, this is a passion not without its fair share of risks and dangers, and proper motorcycle boots and riding shoes are an important part of a safe experience.
As motorcycle riders ourselves, we understand the joys of getting out on the road after a cold winter and taking in the Golden Horseshoe’s scenic drives. For some, many bikers riding a motorcycle is not a hobby or need, it’s passion. It’s a desire. It’s a need. It’s a calling. It’s about freedom. Riders often feel like they are in total control of the moment – and often feel like they are not riding, but that they are flying and there are no set limits to stopping them. However, as Hamilton motorcycle accident lawyers, we also understand the risks involved with riding motorcycles and have seen the devastating impact accidents can cause.
When you ride, it’s important to use the right gear – remember, dress to slide not to ride. It’s also important that your protective gear keeps you comfortable in a wide range of situations, and when you’re comfortable you’re no doubt a better rider. Gear that is uncomfortable, ill-fitting, or otherwise fails at its intended purpose is at best a distraction, and the last thing you need as a biker is a distraction. Remember – proper comfortable riding equipment might not reduce your risk of an accident, but it can certainly reduce the chances of you suffering a severe, life-changing injury if an accident occurs. Motorcycle boots and riding shoes are a key part of injury prevention for motorcyclists, as they can help reduce the risk for many common types of serious motorcycle accident injuries. Read more about the importance and effectiveness of motorcycle riding boots below.
There are two options for motorcycle foot gear: motorcycle boots and riding shoes. Each option comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Motorcycle boots are full-length boots that are usually tall enough to reach the shins or the knees. They tend to be heavier as they are typically designed with heavy-duty materials such as thick leather that add the highest level of protection.
Riding shoes resemble casual sneakers but feature specific design options that add protection for motorcycle riders. This includes waterproof material, reinforced heels and toes, and protective lining. They usually go as high as the ankles, and therefore are not as tall as boots.
While motorcycle boots are the safest and most durable option, they can often be bulky. Riding shoes are easier to walk around in, and don’t require a change of shoes if you are going to a specific destination (such as riding your motorcycle to work). However, riding shoes don’t have the full ankle, shin, and calf protection and increased durability that comes with taller motorcycle boots.
Most of the time, when the topic of motorcycle safety gear comes up, it’s common to think of items such as helmets, jackets, and gloves. Motorcycle boots and riding shoes are often overlooked, as the feet may not seem as important as protecting the head and hands. However, the feet play an important role in the operation of a motorcycle as well as in our daily lives, and need to be protected just as well.
It’s absolutely critical to wear footwear that covers your feet while riding a motorcycle, but this is often not enough protection against the potential dangers that may arise. Compared to motor vehicle drivers, motorcyclists are 15 times more likely to be in an accident, and injuries to motorcyclists can be ten times more severe or fatal.
Motorcycle boots and riding shoes are designed to add that extra protection, and while they can be expensive, they are well worth the cost when it comes to potentially preventing a life-changing injury that prevents you from ever being able to ride again. While motorcycle boots can be a bulky item to have to wear every time you leave for a ride, they are essential to keeping you safe on the road. The chances of a serious injury to the lower extremities from a motorcycle accident are higher when the rider is not wearing proper foot gear.
The effectiveness of protective clothing, particularly motorcycle boots, was measured in a peer-reviewed study in 2019. The Journal “Traffic Injury Prevention” assessed the effectiveness of protective clothing in motorcycle accidents – particularly motorcycle jackets, trousers, gloves, motorcycle boots and back protection. The study found that gloves were the most frequently warn (76%) followed by jackets (59%) and motorcycle boots (37%). The study found that wearing protective clothing was no doubt associated with a lower risk of soft tissue injury to upper and lower limbs. With lower limbs in particular, motorcycle riding boots protected against abrasions, and lacerations when sliding. The study also found that in serious motorcycle accidents, ankle or knee high motorcycle boots reduced the risk of ankle fracture, dislocation and sprain.
As mentioned above, the feet are often overlooked for the vital role they play in operating a motorcycle. Riders rely on the support of their feet, heels, and ankles to both control and stop the motorcycle, which can weigh up to 400 pounds. While riding, it is common for motorcyclists to experience shock to the feet due to the bumps and vibrations of the road and bike, which can cause nerve damage or weaken the joints over time.
Further, in the event of a collision, the ankles are often the first area of the body to experience an impact, rendering them vulnerable to orthopedic injuries such as bone breaks, fractures, twists, sprains, strains, and muscle tears. Ankles can also be easily crushed under the weight of another vehicle or the bike itself, causing them to shatter.
Motorcycle boots help to add support to the ankles for safer control and offer protection that can reduce the impact in the event that the body is contorted during a fall. Regular shoes would likely slip off and leave the feet exposed, increasing the risk of broken bones or other serious injuries.
Open wounds, lacerations, and punctures are common types of injuries that victims may suffer in a motorcycle accident, and can become serious if they do not heal properly or are not treated immediately. An open wound injury can lead to significant blood loss, nerve damage, infections and bacterial diseases, or even amputations. While these injuries can heal on their own if they are minor, they are often more serious when they occur during motorcycle collisions due to the limited protection the rider has.
Motorcycle riders are not shielded by the walls of a vehicle and therefore can be exposed to sharp, blunt objects in the event of a collision. For example, shards of glass from a car window may break tissue on the skin, or a sharp piece of debris on the road can easily come into contact with a falling rider.
A study by the United States Marine Corps found that armored motorcycle boots can reduce the risk of an open wound injury by up to 90%. Motorcycle boots and riding shoes offer protection against objects that can puncture the feet, keeping them safe from exposure and reducing the impact when an object comes into contact.
Motorcycle Accidents, Avulsion and Road Rash
Avulsion (when skin is ripped from the body) is one of the most common injuries in motorcycle accidents as road rash often occurs when a rider is thrown from the motorcycle. Severe road rash can cause serious issues such as permanent scarring and disfigurement, infections, and chronic pain. In some cases, repairing severe road rash could require a surgical skin graft and cause permanent nerve damage.
Proper motorcycle footwear adds traction, which can help reduce road rash or avulsion injuries if you are in a collision and you are thrown against the road. Traction can also be helpful when the feet need to be placed on the ground, such as when stopping, idling, or starting, which can reduce the risk of losing control of the bike. In some cases where there may be oil or gas spilled on the road, extra traction can provide more control as well. Without proper footwear, the feet may not be able to grip the road effectively, or the shoe can slide off the feet completely. Further, regular or casual footwear can rip apart easily when the rider is thrown against the road at a high speed.
Motorcycle boots protect the feet against the exhaust pipes of the motorcycle, which can get extremely hot while in operation. Depending on the type of motorcycle you ride, your feet could rest just inches away from the engine, putting them at risk for severe burns if they make contact with the exhaust or engine components. Regular shoes such as tennis shoes or casual sneakers are not built to withstand the extreme heat of a motorcycle engine and could easily tear within moments of exposure.
Other parts of the motorcycle can cause injuries if proper foot gear is not worn. The bike’s pegs and gear shifter could potentially cause puncture and laceration injuries, and laces on regular shoes or sneakers can get caught or snag on these objects. Further, pedals can be sharp against the bottom of the feet.
Footwear for motorcycle riders is designed to include weather-proof materials and waterproof lining. Proper protection against the elements is not simply for comfort. It is also a key component of preventing injuries. Weather conditions can increase the risk of an accident, no matter what type of vehicle you are operating.
Motorcycle boots and riding shoes offer increased protection against weather-related elements. In the hot summer weather, boots stay securely on the feet, whereas many types of casual shoes may slip off due to sweat. When you get caught in the rain or it has recently rained, motorcycle boots keep the feet dry and add traction in slippery conditions. In the fall and winter, when the weather temperatures begin to drop, motorcycle boots can protect the feet from becoming numb from the cold, which allows riders to maintain control.
Wearing motorcycle boots and riding shoes is not always enough to protect you when someone else on the road chooses to act out of negligence or carelessness. You cannot prevent an accident, but you can improve your chances of surviving one with the right foot gear.
In the event that you or a loved one does suffer a life-changing injury in a motorcycle accident, it’s important to ensure that you hold the at-fault party liable and receive proper compensation for your pain and suffering, loss of income, and other damages. Our firm of Hamilton motorcycle accident lawyers has been representing victims of serious motorcycle accidents and their families since 2003, and we understand the devastating situation you are experiencing. Meet with us for a consultation, at no cost to you, and we can help you go over your options.
Get in touch with us to book a free consultation by scheduling a call back through our online contact form, or calling us at 905-333-8888 locally in the Hamilton. If you are outside Hamilton , you can call us province-wide at 1-844-LALANDE (535-2633).
*The above information was approved by Matt Lalande or another lawyer at Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers. The information comes from legal experience, trial experience, extensive medical research and discussion with medical professionals, medical journal review and updates and/or consultations with fellow friends and colleagues in the legal and medical field.