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How to Pick the Right Helmet

Posted on September 22, 2021 in

The best way to prevent serious head and brain injuries in the event a motorcycle collision occurs is for riders and passengers to wear a helmet. However, how do motorcyclists know they’re choosing the right helmet?

In Colorado and throughout the United States, it is important for motorcyclists to wear a helmet that is approved by the United States Department of Transportation. There are various guidelines in place for manufacturers in order to have their helmets be considered DOT-approved. Here, we want to discuss these guidelines so that you know what to look for when you are purchasing a motorcycle helmet.

How to Pick the Right Helmet

What is Required for a Helmet to Meet DOT Standards?

In any circumstance where a motorcycle helmet is required by law, you will see that the that should say that the helmet required has to follow US DOT requirements. But what does that mean?

DOT Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard #218 revolves around motorcycle helmets sold for on-road use. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) applies certain requirements before a motorcycle helmet manufacturer can permanently affix a DOT emblem to signify compliance.

The FMCSS 218 standard evaluates three areas of helmet performance: impact attenuation, penetration resistance, and retention system.

  • Impact attenuation deals with how the helmet absorbs energy
  • Penetration resistance measures how well the motorcycle helmet prevents penetration from outside objects
  • Retention system effectiveness deals with the chinstrap snaps and rivets

We bring up the helmet requirements to point out that you cannot simply go to your local retailer and just grab a helmet off the shelf. There are specific helmets for different activities, including mountain biking, BMX riding, skateboarding, skiing, mountaineering, etc. You need to make sure that you pick a helmet out that is appropriate for motorcycle riding. Failing to do so could result in you or a loved one sustaining a significant injury in the event a motorcycle accident occurs.

You have to make sure that you get a motorcycle helmet that fits properly. This means:

  • Ensuring proper positioning of the helmet when you place it on your head. The helmet should sit level just above your eyebrows and evenly between your ears.
  • The straps should fit snugly and perform a V shape under and right in front of your ears.
  • You should perform a shake test where you shake your head side to side and up and down. If the helmet moves forward or backward, you need to re-tighten the chinstrap and test it again.

Do Helmets Really Prevent Injuries?

When we look at data available from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we can see that motorcycle helmets saved 1,859 lives during a recent reporting year. The CDC also says that 802 more lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn a helmet during that same year.

The CDC states that helmets reduce the risk of motorcyclist death by 37% and the risk of serious head injury by 69%.

In the state of Colorado, there is no universal motorcycle helmet law. The only individuals mandated to wear motorcycle helmets are motorcycle drivers and passengers under the age of 18. Any person over the age of 18 is not required to wear a helmet. However, we strongly recommend that all motorcyclists wear a helmet to ensure that they are taking the steps necessary to prevent serious head injuries and fatalities in the event of a crash occurs.