The importance of wearing protective clothing on motorbikes

Tue 13th Aug 2019

During National Road Victim Month, Catherine Hyde, Chartered Legal Executive from the Personal Injury team, explains just how important it is for riders and pillion passengers to wear protective clothing while travelling on a motorbike.

There is currently no law in place around wearing specialised protective gear while riding a motorcycle. The only piece of protective equipment any rider or pillion passenger must wear, by law, is a helmet.

Some riders may prefer not to wear protective clothing, particularly during the summer months, as gear can be hot and bulky. However, The Highway Code strongly recommends that all riders, and their pillion passengers, wear suitable protective clothing while travelling on motorcycles, even if it’s only for a short distance.

If you are involved in an accident while riding your bike, decent protective clothing could save you from serious injury, or even death.

Wearing protective clothing could also potentially have an effect on the amount of compensation you may receive from your insurer.

How contributory negligence could affect you

Not only will protective clothing hopefully lessen the severity of your injuries, it will also stop the defendant raising this as an argument against you in any claim.

If you are unfortunate enough to be in an accident, and you are not wearing protective clothing, then your insurer could raise the argument of contributory negligence, even if the accident wasn’t your fault.

Contributory negligence is when your failure to be careful could be a contributing factor to the seriousness of your injuries. So, if you choose to not wear proper protective gear, you are contributory negligent, and at least partially responsible for your own injuries.

An insurer may allege that injuries sustained in the accident may have not been so serious if suitable protective clothing was worn. This may result in you not receiving the full amount of compensation from your insurer, if it is deemed that you share in responsibility for the injuries caused in the accident.

What is protective clothing?

It is highly recommended that riders, and their pillion passengers, wear protective clothing at all times while riding.

Riders should consider specialised motorbike clothing, including jackets and trousers, that has additional protection around the shoulders, elbows, knees, hips and back. Strong boots with protection for shins, heels and ankles, and gloves to protect the hands, are also recommended.

The law states that you must wear a safety helmet while riding a motorbike on UK roads. That helmet must meet one of the following British safety standards:

  • British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark
  • UNECE Regulation 22.05
  • a European Economic Area member standard offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark.

All visors and goggles must also meet a British safety standard and carry the BSI Kitemark, or the European equivalent.

The Safety Helmet Assessment and Rating Programme (SHARP) can offer you advice on helmets and safety ratings.

If you seriously hit or drop your helmet, you should get a new one, even if you can’t see any damage. Impairment to the helmet’s protection is not always visible from the outside.

For legal advice on road traffic accidents including motorcycle accidents, contact Catherine Hyde from the Personal Injury team at Coodes Solicitors on 01326 318900 or

Tue 13th Aug 2019

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