March 17, 2006 Motorcyclists have long been the most vulnerable road users because they do not have an effective barrier between themselves and other objects in an accident. A flurry of activity in motorcycle protective gear could change things. Honda recently showed its first air-bag on a motorcycle and manufacturers are developing a cross between the airbag and a protective jacket designed to protect the motorcycle rider's neck and spine in the event of an accident. One of the first to market with the new design is Hit-Air which sells a range of jackets and vests featuring airbag technology designed to keep riders safe and comfortable in a wide range of driving and climatic conditions. The jackets are already in use by police departments in Brazil, Italy, Japan and Spain and appear to offer significantly greater protection than a normal jacket. The inflatable vests are finding application in many other potentially dangerous activities such as horseriding and power sports.
All Hit-Air jackets and vests incorporate the "Hit-Air" airbag safety system designed to protect the rider's neck, spine and vital organs in the event of a fall or collision. The "Hit Air" jacket uses CE certified armor to protect the shoulders, elbows and the spine but most importantly, the "Hit Air" jacket also incorporates an air cushion system. In the event of an accident and a rider is thrown from the motorcycle, the air cushion instantly inflates (within 1/2 second) to protect the rider's body.
Activation is simple and automatic. A coiled wire is attached to both the motorcycle and the jacket. Once the rider and the motorcycle are separated, the coiled wire pulls a "key" out of a gas release system and inert gas inflates the air cushion. The inflated jacket provides the necessary impact protection. After a few seconds the gas is automatically released through the gas release valve. Once the gas is released a new cartridge can be installed and the jacket is ready for reuse.