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All Motorcycle Helmets are Not Created Equal


While many studies show that wearing motorcycle helmets saves lives, many riders still dispute the claim. Others, in states where helmet use is optional, choose to take the risk of riding without a helmet. In California, the law does not afford the option of riding helmet free, but there are several different styles of helmets to choose from. How much protection from a traumatic brain injury do these helmets provide?

California law requires that all helmets sold for use by motorcycle riders meet or exceed the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218. States that implemented similar helmet requirements, have shown a significant reduction in motorcycle head injuries of 50%. Most of these states require the same Department of Transportation approval as California. Meeting that standard does not guarantee the maximum protection, it only means the product passed certain testing requirements.

Three basic styles of motorcycle helmets are available with DOT approval labels:

· Half Helmet - Also known as the beanie, this is a style preferred by many riders of cruiser style bikes due to the look and the fact that they allow for better hearing with the ears exposed. These helmets are usually worn with goggles for eye protection. They offer protection from traumatic brain injury (TBI) in only 36.8% of crashes.

· Three Quarter Helmet - This style of helmet covers the head and ears but not the face. They offer TBI protection in 55.5% of motorcycle crashes.

· Modular or Full Face Helmet - Sport bike riders favor these helmets as they are streamlined and aerodynamic and often styled to match their bikes or riding apparel. Full face helmets offer good head protection, greater chin protection, reduced noise levels and face protection from bugs and road gravel. They also provide better protection for off road riders against flying debris.

DOT approval is available with all the above styles of helmet, but the protection they offer is often inadequate.

The Snell Institute, a private testing institution, tests and approves helmets and follows up with spot checks to assure manufacturer compliance. In contrast, the DOT permits companies to perform their own private testing and does not do follow ups. The DOT also allows for less initial impact duration. The Snell standard ratings do not have associated impact duration. Helmets approved by the Snell Institute are a better choice.

Is Your Injury Claim Affected by Your Helmet Choice?

How is an injury claim affected by the helmet a rider was wearing, or not wearing, at the time of a crash involving a negligent driver or road maintenance agency? Not wearing a helmet, where a helmet is required by law, could be considered negligence on the part of the plaintiff having a negative effect on the settlement. Wearing a helmet that does not have DOT approval could also be detrimental to a claim. Regarding the different styles of helmets, there are no statistics if any claims were adversely effected by the wearing of a less protective style.

Following a Motorcycle Crash

If you are involved in a motorcycle crash seek medical attention immediately, regardless of how you may feel. Serious brain injuries may show no symptoms for hours, days or longer. Only a trained medical professional can determine through observation and testing, whether a brain injury is present and the level of its severity.

The Motorcycle Accident Attorney

Following proper medical examination and care, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. Vititoe Law Group has successfully represented victims of motorcycle crashes, recovering significant compensation and damages. There is no cost or obligation to speak with an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.

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