Study after study continues to back evidence that helmets prevent severe injuries and death in bicycle and motorcycle accidents. But, will just any helmet do?
Here are a few things to look for when purchasing a helmet for yourself or your son or daughter.
The bare minimum
For many riders, having a helmet to wear at all is necessary to comply with California law. Here, it’s illegal for motorcycle drivers and passengers not to wear a helmet while riding.
However, for bicyclists, only those who are under the age of 18 are required by law to wear a helmet while riding.
Helmets worn by required parties must demonstrate certification by the manufacturer that the helmet meets the Department of Transportation safety standards.
A recent study found that the highest-performing helmets use Multi-Directional Impact Protection System (MIPS). The MIPS lessens the impact of a fall. The system works by using a low friction layer between the users’ head and the helmet to allow the helmet to rotate slightly while keeping the head in place. This allows the helmet to protect the rider’s head, even if the rider hits the ground at an angle.
Because it can be difficult for automobile drivers to see motorcyclists and bicyclists, wearing high-visibility colors can improve safety. This includes your helmet.
Choose a helmet in a fluorescent orange or yellow to increase your chances of standing out on the road. You may even opt for reflective tape on your helmet as well, as long as it does not interview with the way the helmet fits or your line of sight.
Your helmet must meet the Department of Transportation standards to be sold legally. However, you can also check to see if the helmet meets safety standards from the following programs:
- American National Standards Institute
- Snell Memorial Foundation
- American Society for Testing Materials
Face shield (for motorcycles)
In California, wearing eye protection while riding a motorcycle is highly suggested, though not legally required.
Using a helmet with a face shield can help prevent debris from catching in your eyes and causing an accident or lack of control. The eyewear should give a clear view to either side and riders should avoid wearing tinted eye protection or face shields at night.
Ensure that the helmet you select fits snugly, so is level and will not slide off your head. If the helmet has a chin strap, be sure to secure this secure just before and while riding.
Avoid urban-style helmets
While these types of helmets have become more popular in recent years, they aren’t typically the safest option. Urban-style helmets often use a thin foam layer that does not provide enough protection in an accident.
While riding without a helmet may not be required for bicyclist in California, most fatal bicycle falls or crashes at any age happen to those who are not wearing a helmet.
If you’ve suffered injuries from a bicycle, motorcycle or skateboarding accident involving other parties, contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your options for compensation.