If you ride a motorcycle, or you are planning to start doing so in the near future, you already understand the importance of wearing a helmet. But all helmets are created differently and there are a number of variables that go into choosing the one that will best protect you. Sevenish Law Firm of Indianapolis wants all motorcycle riders to have a safe and pleasant experience. Here, we offer some advice on how to buy the right motorcycle helmet. In the event you are injured while riding because of someone’s negligence, our skilled Indianapolis motorcycle accident attorneys are here to help.
Why a Safe, Quality Helmet Matters
Motorcycle helmets aren’t just required by law, they’re required by common sense. Wearing a helmet could mean the difference between life and death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) notes that motorcyclists are more likely to be in a crash than a driver or passenger in any other type of motor vehicle. Meanwhile, research from the National Institutes of Health indicates that the most significant cause of death in a motorcycle accident is suffering a head injury.
Helmets can substantially reduce the likelihood of brain damage or death. However, it’s not a good idea to select the first helmet you come across. There are several factors to consider as you buy the right helmet to protect you from an injury or fatality.
What to Look for in a Motorcycle Helmet
A comfortable fit is a great feature to have in a helmet, but it is insufficient to keep a rider safe. A helmet is designed to absorb the impact of a rider’s head crashing into a hard surface. That means if the helmet is too loose, even though it feels comfortable, it might not be doing its job. To choose a good helmet, it’s recommended that you follow these steps:
Choose your style
With so many helmets on the market, it’s important to recognize a few of the most popular styles. They include:
- Modular helmets: these helmets completely cover the head and face and come with a hinged design to allow easy access to the face and comfortable air flow. Modular helmets are especially good choices for riders with glasses because the face shield won’t get in the way.
- Full-face helmets: these one-piece units fully enclose the head and come with a face shield and attached chinbar. Although these lack the air flow of modular helmets, they provide the highest impact protection.
- Open-face and Three-quarter helmets: similar to modular helmets (minus the chin bar and face shield), these protect the skull and back of the head with maximum air flow. A downside is that the face is exposed to the elements and any foreign objects encountered while riding.
- Half-helmet: almost identical to open-face, these helmets are minimally restrictive and protect the minimum surface area of your head. As the least-protective option, make sure this design is right for your safety needs.
Select your shape and size
Helmets come in different shapes (round oval; intermediate oval, the most common; and long oval) depending on your head shape. As for size, measure your head using a cloth tape. Start just above the eyebrows and circle the tape around the thickest point in the rear of your head. Cross-reference this measurement with a helmet size chart. A helmet that is too loose will move around or not sit down completely on your head. Meanwhile, a correctly sized helmet will be a little tight but will provide even pressure around your head without being uncomfortable.
Try the helmet on
This step is always recommended because sizing charts and safety standards won’t tell you which helmet is most comfortable. Although you may have a preferred helmet style in mind, remember that everyone’s head is different in size, shape, and dimension. Your first choice of helmet therefore may not fit correctly. Try out different styles and models and discuss your options with experienced riders.
Check primarily for a safe fit, because comfort alone does not make a helmet safe. There are online fitting guides to help you buy a helmet that will do the job in the event of an emergency.
Be mindful of the safety rating
All helmets have a safety rating, and you should check yours before buying. Compare the ratings of your top choices before settling on one. At a minimum, helmets must be DOT-compliant. That means they need to have a label on the back that contains the following wording and data:
- The name of the manufacturer and/or brand
- The model designation
- The phrase, “DOT, FMVSS No. 218, CERTIFIED”
Timely replace your helmet
Most motorcycle safety groups suggest replacing helmets every 3-5 years, even without signs of damage. That’s because the interior protective elements (e.g. helmet liners and impact absorption) deteriorate over time and become less safe, comfortable, and well-fitting. Helmets with dents in the shell and frayed straps should be replaced right away.
How Smart Technology Can Enhance Helmet Safety
Ordinary helmets that meet the federal safety standards and other guidelines do a wonderful job of protecting riders. But some motorcyclists opt for the enhanced safety features that come with so-called smart helmets, including:
- Rear lights: these respond to the handlebars and make the rider more detectable at night and in areas with low visibility
- Camera: built-in cameras are an improvement over dash cameras (which can impede air flow) and can record unsafe and illegal behavior from other motorists
- GPS: high-precision GPS makes navigation easier and, in the case of an accident, helps rescue services more easily locate you
- Speakers: these are connected via Bluetooth and let the rider listen to applications (such as Waze) while still being able to hear the outside environment
- Microphone: speaking while driving is especially beneficial for groups of motorcyclists who can communicate with each other about risks and problems on the road
- Blind angle sensors: motorcyclists are vulnerable to vehicles that are in their blind spots, but sensors in the helmet can detect and warn of dangers
- Built-in screens: these can be connected to your smartphone to show call notifications, weather notifications, and other important information
Here to Represent You in the Event of an Accident
Knowing how to buy the right motorcycle helmet will minimize the likelihood that you or a loved one will suffer brain injury or death in a motorcycle crash. But even with the safest helmet, a rider can be hurt by a seriously negligent motorist or other party. That’s why the team at Sevenish Law Firm goes to work every day representing Indianapolis motorcyclists and other personal injury victims. If you’ve been hurt in an accident, contact our office to learn more about how we can serve you.