Motorcycle Helmets: How One Safety Item Can Be The Difference Between Life and Death on the Road
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on March 23, 2021
According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle drivers are twice as likely to get into an accident on the American roadways than someone driving a car. Furthering that statistic, the NHTSA also reports that death as a result of a motorcycle accident is 28 times more likely than death by any other motor vehicle including cars. There are a variety of factors that go into these statistics. Road and weather conditions are two major factors to be taken into consideration as is safety equipment. When roads are wet or visibility is poor, the chance of motorcycle drivers getting into accidents increases substantially. And, when drivers choose to pass on wearing motorcycle helmets, their chance of being critically injured increases dramatically.
Why Riders Should Choose to Wear Motorcycle Helmets
Choosing to wear motorcycle helmets when driving is one of the best decisions riders can make before starting their bikes. While the motorcycle helmet may not look like a lifesaver, it has the potential to be. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) admits that while a motorcycle helmet “is not a ‘cure-all’ for motorcyclist safety, … in a crash, a helmet can help protect your brain, your face, and your life.”
This is especially true when a helmet is paired with other Department of Transportation-approved safety equipment. The DOT recommends riders also wear over-the-ankle footwear, long pants, a long-sleeved jacket, and full-fingered motorcycle gloves. All of this safety equipment will keep motorcycle drivers safe in an accident but, without a helmet, the risk of a motorcycle driver suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or worse is high.
How Do Motorcycle Helmets Work?
When choosing a helmet, it’s important to know how one works and that different helmets do different things. From motorcycle helmets to construction hard hats, football helmets to Kevlar® caps, no two helmet types are interchangeable. Furthermore, each helmet type has been scientifically developed to protect the head and neck from detrimental injury. The motorcycle helmet is made of four components that work together to provide protection to riders. Those four components include:
- Outer Shell
The outer shell of the motorcycle helmet is made from a combination of composites and thermoplastics. This means that the shell is tough against impact but designed to specifically disperse energy when impacted. Dispersing the energy lessens the force of impact before it reaches the driver’s head; however, the outer shell alone is not enough to keep motorcycle drivers safe.
- Impact-Absorbing Liner
As important as the outer shell is the impact-absorbing liner that’s under the shell itself. The impact-absorbing liner is most often made out of expanded polystyrene (commonly known as Styrofoam.) It works with the same goal in mind as the outer shell: to compress the shock and protect the head when the helmet stops but the head wants to keep moving forward.
- Comfort Padding
While the comfort padding may not seem important, it is an integral part of the helmet. The comfort padding is a layer made out of cloth and foam meant to keep the wearer comfortable. The padding also ensures that the helmet fits properly.
- Retention System
The retention system, better known as the helmet strap, is inarguably the most important part of the helmet as it ensures that the helmet itself stays on the motorcycle operator’s head in the event of a crash. Without the strap buckled below the chin, the helmet is practically useless.
What Does a Helmet Do?
While it may seem obvious what a helmet does, there’s more to wearing a motorcycle helmet than just doing so to protect your head in case of a crash. A helmet not only offers protection in case of a motor vehicle collision but also makes riding a motorcycle more enjoyable for a variety of reasons. Helmets help to cut down on wind noise, prevent windblast on the face and eyes, and deflect bugs and other foreign objects that may be in the air. Furthermore, helmets help to show other drivers that motorcycle operators are responsible riders who take operating their machines seriously.
Wearing a motorcycle helmet may seem “uncool” or “babyish” to some but it’s a very serious accessory that should be worn every time a motorcycle rider gets on their bike. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation encourages riders to remember, “pick up your key, pick up your helmet” before leaving the house to hit the road. With most motorcycle accidents being caused by drivers of multiple-person vehicles due to them not seeing motorcyclists on the road, a motorcycle helmet could be the only item between a minor injury accident and a life-changing accident.
If you have been the victim of a motorcycle accident, contact motorcycle accident attorneys Cooper and Friedman in Louisville, Kentucky.
The dedicated team of lawyers at Cooper and Friedman have over 45 years of combined experience getting compensation for motorcyclists who have suffered an injury due to an accident. Contact Cooper and Friedman today by visiting the Contact Us page on their website or by calling 502-459.7555.