At Martinson & Beason, P.C., we strongly recommend that you wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. A helmet can’t prevent a motorcycle crash, but it can save your life if a crash ever happens. It can also make a ride more enjoyable, cutting down on wind and protecting your face from flying insects and debris.
However, you can’t wear just any helmet when riding a motorcycle. Different helmets are designed for certain activities. Just like you wouldn’t wear a construction hard hat when playing football, you shouldn’t wear a helmet not designed for motorcycle use during your ride.
Your helmet must comply with Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. The Department of Transportation requires that the helmets sold in the U.S. meet minimum standards for impact protection, energy absorption, and retention system (strap) effectiveness.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a great article on what to watch out for when buying a helmet:
- Thick inner liner: The helmet should have an inner liner about one inch think. This liner should be made of firm polystyrene foam, not soft foam padding. The liner of a helmet serves to absorb the impact of a crash—instead of your head. Helmets that are unsafe will have little to no padding.
- Sturdy chin strap and rivets: The chin strap should be sturdy, and the rivets attaching the chin strap to the helmet should be secure, not flimsy. Your helmet will do you no good in a crash if it’s thrown from your head, which is why these features are so important.
- Weight: Your helmet should weigh about three pounds. Unsafe helmets will generally weigh one pound or even less.
- Design: The DOT standard prohibits any feature from extending more than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet surface. Visor fasteners are allowed, but things like spikes or other decorations are not.
In addition to the guidelines above, there are other considerations to buying a helmet. You’ll need to think about whether you want a full-face or open-face helmet. A full-face helmet offers the most protection. For those who can’t go without feeling the wind on their face, the three-quarter and flip-up (a hybrid of full-face and open-face) designs offer the most protection of all the open-face designs. The half-helmet offers the least protection, and you should be sure that the half-helmet you are looking at is DOT-approved and not a novelty design.
When buying a helmet, it should fit properly—snugly but not uncomfortably. Be sure to try different brands and models to find the fit that is best for you.
Every helmet that you try on should have the DOT sticker certifying that it meets the federally mandated standards to help keep you safe.
If you or someone you know are ever injured in a crash in Alabama, please feel free to come to the motorcycle accident lawyers at our firm to get your questions answered.