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Basic Principles of Motorcycle Helmet Safety

Basic Principles of Motorcycle Helmet Safety


Safety on a motorcycle is of utmost importance. That’s why so many helmet manufacturers are putting extra emphasis on manufacturing techniques to ensure motorcycle helmet safety for its riders.

No doubt about it, motorcycle helmets have been responsible for preventing many injuries since its introduction to the racing arena.

According to statistics, wearing a helmet could reduce your risk of injury by at least 30 percent. A helmet’s casing is well constructed to absorb impact and penetration and the interior is designed with Styrofoam liners for both comfort and to resist shock.

It’s hard to believe that when the first motorcycle was made, helmets were the furthest things from the creator’s mind. That’s because motorcycles were not used for its speed, but rather for a leisure ride.

As the velocity increased, riders were prone to more accidents and the idea to create a shock-absorbent motorcycle helmet later came in an invention by C.F. “Red” Lombard, a professor who worked at the University of Southern California. Soon after Lombard’s product was patented, manufacturers decided to follow suit in crafting helmets.

Even the Government got involved in the safety drive by introducing the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for motorcycle helmets, which requires manufacturers to insert a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker of approval inside each helmet.

Long before Government’s intervention, motorcycle helmet safety became an issue with The Snell Foundation, which was named after William Snell, who was seriously injured in a race-car accident. The company continues to test motorcycle helmets without prejudice to the manufacturer. The test is done solely on the safety of the helmets and after testing, a Snell sticker is issued.

Snell Stickers

Some states are required by law to enforce helmet safety, but there are other states where the law was opposed, as residents of these states believe that one should have the freedom of choice.

No matter how you look at it, motorcycle helmets save lives and reduce the chance of head injuries. So, use these tips when thinking about motorcycle helmet safety and ride free!

  • Proper Fit:

Probably the most important aspect of helmet safety is the fit. If your helmet does not fit properly, it will do you absolutely no good at all. You want to get a nice fit so that your head is protected in case of an unforeseen accident.

Motorcycle helmets are meant to be snug. This does not mean however that they should be tight. If your helmet is painfully tight, then it is probably not the right size. Likewise, if your helmet is too loose, then it will not provide safety and will be more likely to cause rider fatigue since it will be off balance.

Another reason your helmet might be uncomfortable is that of the shape of your head. Different helmet brands will fit certain head shapes better than others. Just try on a helmet from each brand to get the most comfortable fit.

Remember, new helmets might take a few times of wearing to get confirmed to your head. The more you wear them, the better they feel.

“Motorcycle Tech Tips on Helmet Size and Fit”

  • New or Used:

It is usually suggested to purchase a motorcycle helmet new. There are several reasons for this, however. By purchasing a new helmet, you are ensured that the helmet is not damaged in some place where you cannot visually see. You have also ensured that the manufacturer’s warranty is still in effect, which is perfect if you plan on spending a wad of cash on your helmet.

A good helmet can last years, so you might want to invest in one from the beginning.

Buying a used helmet is not always a bad idea. If you can be sure the helmet has not been dropped or in an accident, then it might be a good deal. If a helmet is even dropped three feet onto the floor it can be damaged internally.

Therefore, you need to know for sure this has not happened before buying it used. You can certainly save a lot of money buying used, however.

  • Purchase Price:

Just because a helmet is expensive, does not mean it is any safer than a less expensive version. General motorcycle helmet safety is regulated by Snell and DOT approvals. As long as your helmet meets these standards, then it does not matter if it costs $50 or $500.

Really, what you are paying for is a brand name, comfort, and new innovations such as intricate ventilation’s systems.

Remember, motorcycle helmet safety revolves around the proper fit and the condition of the helmet. It has very little to do with the purchase price or brand. The number one way to make sure you are following helmet safety is to simply wear your helmet every time you ride.

According to Snell experts, wearing bright colored motorcycle helmets or reflective stickers will help drivers see you from miles away. This can prevent an accident from happening. Even if fluorescent orange isn’t ‘your color’, certainly your first concern is making it home.

Motorcycle Helmet Safety Rating:

Knowing the motorcycle helmet safety rating is essential in choosing the right head wear for you. Factors to consider include but are not limited to weight, size, shape, and comfort.

  • The Basis for Safety Ratings:

In order to determine a motorcycle helmet safety rating, several types of tests are performed. The basic types of tests are the certification test, the random sample test, and the prototype test.

The outcome of these tests, along with some of the other factors mentioned above, allow for certification by the DOT and/or the Snell Foundation.

Certification is based on how well a helmet performs in the following areas: impact, positional stability, dynamic retention, chin bar impact, shell penetration, face shield, flame resistance, and face sheet penetration.

Helmet Testing

Other considerations used in establishing the helmet safety rating are performance and the ability to stay on the head.

In addition, depending on the application and standard to be used, each helmet must pass all or some of the following tests, in order to receive certification by the DOT, Snell, or both.

  • Why Rate Helmets?

There are many different opinions regarding the standards established for a motorcycle helmet safety rating. The discrepancies in testing procedures and subsequent outcomes are primary.

For example, Snell uses an “edge anvil” test that is not required by the DOT. Some manufacturers claim that a helmet designed to meet this Snell test result in a product that is heavier than the same model designed only for the DOT test.

Another helmet safety rating addresses perceived noise. It is generally agreed that riding a motorcycle generates noise loud enough to be dangerous to human health.

On this basis, a helmet noise level rating is vital when choosing the right head wear for you. There’s no doubt that a correctly fitted helmet (and earplugs) are essential when riding a motorcycle.

As demonstrated in rating systems for motorcycle helmets and most other products – from automobiles to bread making machines – a rating is undeniably the best tool to use before making a purchase.

In the case of head wear, the motorcycle helmet safety rating may be crucial in saving your life!

Safety Tips


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