An unprotected head is the most vulnerable part of the body in motorcycle accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, serious head injury is common among motorcycle accident fatalities, and helmets are 37 percent effective in fatality prevention. In addition, helmets are 67 percent effective in brain injury prevention. However, the wrong helmet purchase and usage can seriously compromise its effectiveness. Here are three common mistakes that compromise safety:
Using a Novelty Helmet (or Any Non Certified Helmet)
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, novelty helmets are nearly three times less effective at protecting against head injury than DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) certified helmets. In novelty helmet design, safety takes a backseat to appearance. They are little more than fashion statements. While some almost seem plausible as helmets (but don’t meet DOT standards), others (such as those resembling baseball caps) clearly don’t. Only use DOT or Snell certified helmets.
Using Old Helmets
Helmets are made from different types of plastics, and all plastics degrade with time. Exposure to summer temperatures, sunlight, perspiration, cleaning chemicals, and shock places wear and tear on your helmet. According to Snell, you should replace your helmet after five years.
Always replace your helmet immediately after a motorcycle accident. The polystyrene inner layer remains partially compressed after the shock of an accident and lacks the same “give” of a new helmet. If your helmet was frequently dropped or fell from a great height, replace it.
Using a Poorly Fitting Helmet
A helmet that doesn’t stay on your head in an accident is of no use at all. It must have a snug fit. When moving the helmet with your hands, its inner surfaces should cause your skin to move. You should not be able to roll your helmet forward off your head when the chin strap is secured. If the helmet feels loose, it’s too large. Even with a good fitting helmet, failure to tighten the chin strap negates its protective function.
If you need to talk to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, don’t hesitate to contact us.