How to Choose the Right Motorcycle Helmet

man holding helmet looking at motorcycle by river | How to Choose the Right Motorcycle Helmet

Based on 2014 fatal crash data, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in an accident than those in a vehicle and 6 times as likely to receive serious injuries. This is hardly surprising, as a car affords those inside a fairly high level of protection in the form of a metal cage, airbags and safety belts. According to a study done by the Federal Government, with data taken from 2003-2005, but reported in 2009, out of approximately 41,000 motorcyclists who were injured during that period, 7,523 of those suffered a traumatic brain injury. Thirty-four percent of the traumatic brain injuries were severe, 43 percent were moderate, and the remainder of the traumatic brain injuries were considered minor or “potential.”

While safer riding practices as well as cooperation from all those who share the roadways will help reduce the number of motorcyclists who receive severe or deadly injuries, the single most effective way for states to save lives and money is a universal helmet law. Consider the following:

• Motorcycle helmets saved at least 1,630 lives in 2013;
• Motorcycle helmets saved more than $2.8 billion in economic costs to all those involved, in 2013;
• Motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent and reduce the risk of death by 37 percent, and
• The U.S. could have saved over $1.1 billion in 2013 if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.

Further Reading: The Dangerous by Design 2016 Report on Pedestrian Accidents

DOT-Approved Helmets Save Lives

Although many motorcyclists lobby for the right to wear or not wear a motorcycle helmet as they please, citing the “freedom” of riding a motorcycle with no helmet, the very best hope a motorcyclist has for protecting their brain is a helmet—and not just any helmet. Your motorcycle helmet must meet the DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. You will know your helmet is DOT-approved, if it has the DOT symbol on the outside back of the helmet. This is how manufacturers of motorcycle helmets certify their helmet meets DOT standards. Certified helmets will also have a permanent inside label which identifies the manufacturer of the helmet, and provides information regarding care and use of the helmet.

Helmets which properly meet DOT standards weigh about three pounds, have a sturdy chinstrap and a very thick polystyrene foam lining. Some motorcycle helmets will also come with plastic face shields. Although this is not required under DOT standards, a shield offers protection from dirt and stones thrown up by cars, as well as wind, rain and insects. Here are some other helpful tips on how to choose the right motorcycle helmet:

• A well-made helmet will cushion your head during a crash and will deflect the force of the impact away from your brain. “Half helmets,” which are often made cheaply, with thin liners, simply won’t do that, leaving your brain with little protection in the event of a crash.
• Only buy certified helmets, with the DOT or Snell sticker inside or outside, which ensures the helmet complies with governmental safety standards.
• Make sure your helmet is the right size for your head. Motorcycle helmets are not “one size fits all.” If your helmet is too tight, you will have headaches as a result, and if it is too loose, it will bound around, making it difficult for you to see, and potentially coming off in a crash. You want a snug fit which allows your head to move comfortably from side to side. Because you should wear the helmet for 5-10 minutes in the store, you should never buy a helmet online.
• If you are willing to buy a plain-Jane DOT or Snell-approved helmet, you can get a good one for under $200. The cosmetics of a helmet often drive up the price. It is recommended that you replace your helmet about every five years, as wear and tear can affect its safety performance.
• Finally, don’t succumb to peer pressure—no matter how old you are. In other words, don’t let fashion cloud your judgment when it comes to the safety of your helmet.

Put simply, motorcycle helmets save lives. Don’t put your life at risk when you ride your motorcycle—wear a helmet.

Contact Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

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If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident, it is important to speak to an experienced Milwaukee motorcycle accident lawyer immediately. At Aiken & Scoptur, S.C., we work with credible expert professionals to investigate and document motorcycle accident cases.

Our Milwaukee motorcycle accident attorneys are dedicated to getting clients the full compensation they deserve. We take all personal injury cases on contingency, so you will not pay us a fee unless we help you obtain money damages. To discuss your case with an experienced trial lawyer, call us at 414-914-2803 or contact us today. We represent clients throughout the state from offices in Wauwatosa and Wild Rose.

Contact us for a free consultation.


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