Norfolk motorcyclist tells how protective clothing saved his life

A Norfolk motorbike enthusiast has described how the leathers he was wearing saved him from losing limbs during a serious accident.

Dean Gibson, 43, of Blackthorn Road, Attleborough, has called for tougher legislation to prevent people from riding motorbikes without proper safety clothing after he suffered multiple injuries, including fractures to the legs, wrists and arms and a collapsed lung following a crash nearly two years ago.

The former Pepsi engineer, who lives with wife Julie, 43, and has two stepchildren, Mark, 25 and Julie, 23, was riding his Ducati sports bike home on the A17 at Terrington St Clement on July 31 after spending the weekend with his parents in Barnsley.

However, a car suddenly appeared in his path, forcing him to brake and swerve, but he clipped the car and carried on for another 50 yards before slamming into a metal fence surrounding a field and being thrown clear of the bike into the field.

He had been travelling at 60mph and the force of the impact left his right arm paralysed, although he believed his injuries could have been worse had he not been wearing protective clothing.

Dr Alistair Steel and paramedic Carl Smith from Magpas, the emergency medical charity, attended the incident at 6.30pm and anaesthetised Mr Gibson, who was still conscious in the aftermath of the crash, before he was flown to Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge, to receive treatment.

A long period of recovery followed, which involved Mr Gibson spending time at Stanmore Hospital in Middlesex and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

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His personal life has also been hit as he can no longer work, while he can no longer ride a motorcycle or socialise with friends in the biking community who had been a big part of his life prior to the accident.

However, he believed his situation could have been much worse if he had not been wearing a full leather suit including back protector and boots. He said he had seen some motorcyclists riding on mopeds wearing only T-shirts, shorts and a loose fitting helmet and he wanted the law to be toughened so they had to wear a leather suit and the helmet properly fastened.

'I know for a fact that if I had not been wearing the clothing I was wearing my injuries would have been a lot worse. I would have probably lost my left leg. I am definite that if I had not had the equipment on I would probably not be here,' Mr Gibson said.

His wife, who works at Seastar Superbikes in Newton Flotman, feared some riders could be compla-cent because they were only riding a moped, but warned if a bare leg or arm was dragged along a road surface at 30mph this would still cause more serious injury than if the limb was surrounded by leather clothing.

Dr Steel said he had never been to an accident involving as many broken bones, and described Mr Gibson's recovery as 'remarkable' given the extent of his injuries.

'The clothing almost certainly limited the extent of his injuries. One of the reasons those injuries have not been so life-threatening was because the clothing prevented him from bleeding. It almost certainly saved a large amount of injuries to his tendons and muscles,' he added.

Figures show that though only two per cent of all road accidents involve motorbikes, 24pc of all casualties in accidents are motorcyclists.

dominic.bareham2@archant.co.uk

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