Several companies are now offering airbag jackets or vests for motorcycle riders, but very few riders in California know about them. Here's why.
California has more motorcycle riders per capita than any other state, but very few of them seem to know much about safety equipment beyond the mandatory helmets.
"When a motorcycle rider goes down, it's basically their body against the road," said biker Lawyer Norm Fernandez.
But a new safety device could change this.
Several companies are now offering airbag vests or jackets that work principally in the same way.
The jackets have a tether, which the rider attaches to the motorcycle. When the rider is thrown from the saddle, the tether pulls on a CO2 canister that inflates the airbag inside the vest that then cushions the rider's fall.
The jacket also has special armor on it to protect the neck and back.
Another company, Armored Air Jackets, touts not only the safety aspects, but claims its jackets are weatherproof and fashionable.
It also has claimed its jackets have saved lives in collisions between motorcycles and cars.
A third popular brand is Impact Air Bag Jackets, which stressed the development of the personal airbag protection was the most important safety innovation in years for both motorcycle riders and horseback riders.
One reason riders in California have been slow to adopt this kind of safety gear is that it's available almost exclusively on the Internet, not in most rider gear shops.
The cost may also be a turn-off, considering the jackets and vests run from $300 and up.
Still, considering a rider is killed almost every day in California, say CHP officers, the airbag vests might be a smart alternative for civilian riders.