While wandering around the internet, Facebook to be exact, we came across a question on the Moto Riders Universe group page, (a group that has nearly 150,000 members), which was, “What is the hump for on a motorcycle jacket? I’m looking all over forums everywhere and some people are saying it’s for aerodynamics or protection, while some say both and others say it barely effects either.”
While most replies indicated that the hump was an aerodynamic “feature” first mainly used by riders that race in high speed competition, a few suggested that they were a safety feature, while some picked up that the hump was a hindrance in treating a fallen rider.
So what is the purpose of the hump? Is it a safety measure that transfers from the race track to the street or is it a hindrance in treating a fallen rider?
We do not have to go far to find an answer which is contained in the 2007 report, “Trauma and motorcyclists; born to be wild, bound to be injured? – John D. Hinds, Gareth Allen, Craig G. Morris.” in the section entitled – ‘Speed humps’ during intubation and cervical spine control”
“They were initially conceived to improve the aerodynamics of a helmeted rider in a racing crouch on a competition motorcycle.
In some instances they contain data-logging devices to allow race teams to collect information on the various forces acting on rider and motorcycle, and in hotter climates they have been modified to contain fluid.
In recent years they have become a fashion item for the non-competitive motorcyclist, and are now a common feature on leathers.
They are not, and never have been, a safety device, and indeed make management of the airway and spine more difficult in the injured motorcyclist.”
So there is the answer however what is mentioned here is that it is stated that the hump can cause problems in medical terms.
Bearing in mind that the report is written for medical professionals, the section continues: “The effect of a speed hump in the supine position is analogous to having two firm pillows placed under the shoulder-blades, that is, thoracic flexion with cervicothoracic junction hyperextension and potentially craniocervical junction flexion as helmet touches ground.
This risks gross spinal displacement, and direct laryngoscopy and intubation become virtually impossible. It is the author’s opinion that for spine protection and airway control the speed hump must be removed as soon as possible.
The easiest method is to logroll the patient into the lateral position, and run a scalpel blade around the outline of the hump; allowing rapid separation from the leathers.
The patient can then be returned to the supine, and now neutral, position.
It is hoped that designers and manufacturers will recognise the problems faced by medical staff in these instances and modify the design of humps in the future.
Possible solutions include filling humps with air rather than foam to allow deflation or making humps externally detachable, for instance with a zipper or Velcro.”
One of the authors of the report, the late Doctor John Hinds explains in a video presentation of motorcycle road racing in Ireland about the “curse” of speed humps.
Speed humps are a device that are there to allow a rider to be more aerodynamic on a bike so it allows the air to flow over the motorcycle to be quiet smooth they have no relationship to safety whatsoever what they do is render someone in an un-intubatable (insertion of a breathing tube into the trachea for mechanical ventilation) position if they are flat on their back…..if you come across somebody with a speed hump take it out it is very simple to do……”
With our thoughts that in the “sterile” enclosure of racing medical assistance at all levels can only be moments away, but not so on the street.
As a street rider you make your own mind up on what you wear when you ride and perhaps the inclusion of leathers with a speed hump is down to the style of bike you ride – perhaps.
First Aid Training
However getting around to another point is led by the report when it states, “All motorcyclists who suffer significant trauma will require helmet removal if only for assessment…..” some techniques for doing so are described in the report.
Those techniques as a “non-professional” in medical terms can be taught through courses of first aid for riders.
These dedicated first aid courses for riders in the United Kingdom are available for example in the UK through:
- Biker Down is a FREE Emergency First Aid course for Bikers provided by Fire and Rescue Services across the UK!
- First Bike on Scene (FBoS) in the UK and Ireland – paid courses – www.firstbikeonscene.co.uk
St John Ambulance deliver a “Road Users First Aid Course” designed for all road users to learn first aid skills for road accidents, such as CPR, spinal injury, and shock and in Northern Ireland in the past have delivered a specific motorcyclist course, along with motorcycle courses in the rest of the UK, they also deliver a professional drivers first aid course.
An example in Australia is “First Aid For Motorcyclists” – www.firstaidformotorcyclists.com.au
(Other providers are available)
They all deliver an “ethos of, “Rendering First Aid to a motorcyclist which involves many additional considerations that may not be “instructed” in basic First Aid courses.
A motorcyclist may be wearing heavy leathers, armour and should be wearing a helmet, which means that delivering essential lifesaving First Aid to bikers can be more life critical.”
The French website moto-securite.fr for us English speakers translated by Google has a dedicated and comprehensive page – Les gestes qui sauvent un motard – Gestures That Save A Biker – on motorcycle First Aid – accident scene management.
Mandatory First Aid
In some EU countries a practical first aid course is mandatory in order to acquire a driving licence, according to the British Red Cross these nations include Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Hungary.
The British Red Cross call that, “The Department for Transport should make attendance at a practical first aid course mandatory to acquire a driving licence in the UK.” reporting that in March 2016, Will Quince MP introduced a Private Members’ Bill in UK Parliament, which, “proposed attending a four-hour practical first aid course with an approved provider as a minimum requirement for attaining a driving licence. While the bill did not have sufficient time to progress during the parliamentary calendar, it has helpfully raised the profile of the issue and given impetus for change.”
That impetus does not seem to have survived but from India to Australia or at the World Health Organisation and other parts of the globe, there is a push for a mandatory basic first aid course as part of driver/rider training, tied in with a road safety message.
From the knowledge that humps can affect street riders in the case of a collision – to helping fallen fellow riders and – finding out about proposals for compulsory first aid courses, don’t you just love where the internet can take you?
Get First Aid Training – Australia – Crash Scene First Aid – Rider Risk