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How to avoid skinning yourself alive – Wear the right motorcycle gear

July 16, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Motorcycle accident victim and safety advocate Brittany Morrow shares her story of sliding more than 500 feet, and her mission to help motorcyclists understand how to wear safe gear

The title of this blog post is graphic. But it’s also the cold, hard truth when it comes to what happens to so many motorcyclists after they lose control or are hit on a motorcycle. I’m writing about it today because a reminder to wear the proper gear to avoid “skinning yourself alive” in a motorcycle accident is always good for motorcycle enthusiasts.

Nobody knows this better than Brittany Morrow. Several years ago, Brittany was in a motorcycle accident that almost killed her. One sunny morning, Brittany set out on the back of her friend’s motorcycle wearing only an “ugly red helmet.” She and her friend were going 120 miles per hour when they crashed – and slid more than 500 feet on the pavement.

Brittany lost more than 50 percent of the skin on her body, but she survived thanks to her motorcycle helmet.

Here is her graphic account of the motorcycle accident:

“I hit the ground, and it was as if every breath I had ever taken rushed out of me in an instant. I could feel every inch of my body hitting the road; tumbling, sliding and grinding into the unforgiving surface. In my helmet, I fought to breathe as I gave into the force of the asphalt ripping at my flesh. In a matter of seconds, I had come to the conclusion that I was going to die. My eyes were closed as I finished tumbling down the highway. Later, the police would tell me I had slid over 522 feet. I laid there in the road alone for what seemed like an eternity. Every nerve ending in my body was on fire; tingling, scorching, stabbing and burning. I had not gone into shock, and the adrenaline had worn off almost instantly. Not being able to move was the worst of it. I wanted to pull my arm out from underneath me. I wanted to get off that hot road. I wanted the sun to stop shining so brightly on my bloody back. I wanted everything to just go away. But it didn’t go away. I wanted to die, but the people who came to my rescue wouldn’t let me give up. I had skinned myself alive and was still breathing by the grace of God, and that ugly red helmet…

Here’s an article Brittany wrote with more detail of her accident and her mission (beware of the graphic photo of Brittany’s scars): A Sturdy Foundation – Built on Passion, Experience, Willingness.

It took the doctors two months, three blood transfusions, 31 dressing changes, and nine surgeries to put Brittany back together again. With scars that run deep emotionally and physically, she’s now back on her pink and black super sport – and she wears full gear every time she rides.

Rock the Gear

Brittany’s courage, strength and will enabled her to survive. Now she’s putting that experience to work by dedicating her entire life to helping people avoid motorcycle accidents that could skin them alive due to lack of education about the proper motorcycle gear.

Brittany founded Rock the Gear, national, nonprofit organization that focuses on safety apparel education. Her website has a wealth of information on the right gear, safety tips and help for motorcyclists.

Brittany’s story, scars and mission have gotten lots of attention. She’s now a renowned motorcycle safety advocate throughout the U.S. and worldwide. She’s also Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider coach.

Top 6 must haves for motorcycle gear, according to Brittany Morrow

Here’s a great video of Brittany that details her experience, and also outlines the top 6 must-have motorcycle gear.

How to Avoid Skinning Yourself Alive – Brittany Morrow from Brittany Morrow on Vimeo.

Brittany recommends the following protective gear, each and every time you ride your motorcycle:

  1. Sturdy over-the ankle boots,
  2. Long abrasion-resistant pants,
  3. Abrasion-resistant jacket with armor,
  4. Full-fingered gloves with padding,
  5. DOT approved helmet,
  6. Eye protection.

Brittany’s story of survival is inspirational. It’s yet another strong reminder of the importance of motorcycle helmets, and also the importance of the right full-body protective gear. Discussions and lessons about gear safety often take a back seat to those about helmets, especially given Michigan’s recent motorcycle helmet repeal.

Stay tuned to the Michigan Auto Law blog for more posts about safe gear (with Brittany’s help), and how to protect your body in addition to your head.

– Steven Gursten is a lawyer who has been helping injured motorcycle accident victims for nearly 20 years. He has received the highest motorcycle injury settlement in the state, according to the Michigan Lawyers Weekly year-end verdicts and settlements reports. Steve is regularly quoted in the media regarding motorcycle safety and is available for comment.

Related information:

What to do after a motorcycle accident in Michigan

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our motorcycle accident lawyers.

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One Reply to “How to avoid skinning yourself alive – Wear the right motorcycle gear”

  1. Thank you for this extremely thoughtful and informative post. We repeatedly stress the importance of wearing a helmet for all who ride motorcycles, but Ms. Morrow’s story demonstrates that there are still many additional forms of gear that can offer additional protection. As you state, her story of survival is inspirational, and motorcycle safety goes beyond just wearing a helmet.

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