In 2010, the National Occupant Protection Use Survey and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Center for Statistics and Analysis found only 54% of bikers nationwide wore helmets. Many studies have concluded that in the event of a crash, a helmet is a potentially life-saving device. Motorcycles do not have seat belts or airbags so taking advantage of any and all safety equipment available to you is essential. NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,829 lives in 2008, and that 823 more could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
What To Look For in a Helmet
All helmets sold in the US must meet the DOT's safety standards. The Snell Memorial Foundation also approves helmets based on their own more stringent standards. Both organizations employ rigid procedures for testing and focus on 4 primary aspects of the helmets:
- Impact - the shock-absorbing capacity of the helmet
- Penetration - the helmet's ability to withstand a blow from a sharp object
- Retention - the chin strap's ability to stay fastened without stretching or breaking
- Peripheral vision - the helmet must provide a minimum side vision of 105 degrees to each side (most people's usable peripheral vision is only about 90 degrees to each side)
How Do I Know Which Helmet is Right For Me?
Snell recommends considering the questions when purchasing a new helmet:
- Is it the right size? The helmet should fit comfortably all the way around your head and extra pads can be added to ensure a snug fit. Try on a few different helmets to compare the fit.
- Is the chin strap tight? It should fit comfortably around your ear and under your chin so that the helmet does no shift on your head.
- How does it look? This isn't an issue of style, but rather to make sure the helmet is worn correctly; a helmet is meant to be worn low on the forehead, just above your eyebrows.
The NHTSA recommends replacing your motorcycle helmet every 2 to 4 years due to the fact its protective qualities may lessen over time, in addition to the fact that helmet technology advances constantly.
Mark Anderson is a personal injury lawyer who has been helping motorcyclists and their families since 1991. He is a board certified attorney experienced in auto wrecks, motorcycle injuries and wrongful death insurance claims. If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle collision The Anderson Law Firm offers free no obligation consultations. Contact us online or call 817-294-1900 in Fort Worth, or 214-327-8000 in Dallas.