For decades, the proof that motorcycle helmets reduce death and prevent serious injury has been well documented. To illustrate the point further though, approximately 41% of those killed in a motorcycle accident were NOT wearing a helmet.
As far as traumatic brain injury, a common occurrence among motorcycle accident victims, motorcycle helmets are 67% effective. According to the same study from the Crash Outcome Data Evaluation System, motorcyclists not wearing a helmet were three times more likely to suffer a brain injury in the event of an accident.
Despite all the warnings and evidence of their value in the event of an accident, only 58% of motorcycle riders wear a helmet. Many simply refuse to wear a helmet when riding – all for a variety of reasons.
As far as finding a helmet that provides the protection you need, there are 2 well known standards in the U.S.
One set of standards come from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Helmets that comply with this standard have a “DOT approved” sticker affixed. The manufacturer does their own testing of course but the Transportation Department also does compliance testing and posts results online.
In a nutshell, approved helmets have a certain thickness and are designed to absorb a significant amount of energy, prevent most penetration and include a fastening system that will withstand massive force.
DOT compliant helmets will have a thick inner liner, usually a 1” thick polystyrene foam material. Although it isn’t always visible, you should be able to feel around for the inner liner. A compliant helmet will also have sturdy chin strap and rivets and will not have anything extending further than 2/10 of an inch from the helmet.
DOT compliant helmets will also include “DOT” somewhere on the outside to indicate the helmet meets U.S. DOT FMVSS 218 standards.
Other standards are issued by private organizations like the Snell Memorial Foundation and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
We can tell you from our work and personal experiences, motorcycle helmets are invaluable in the event of an accident. As motorcycle attorneys in Tennessee, we can think of too many stories where an owner or passenger suffered paralyzing injury and death.
There’s no doubt that if more were wearing a certified motorcycle helmet, their lived would have been saved lives or the severity of their injuries reduced.