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How to Pick the Safest Motorcycle Helmet 2019

Posted On 04/29/19

Not every state in the U.S. requires motorcyclists to wear helmets, but the reality is that wearing a helmet is a very wise choice for any rider in any state. Properly-fitted motorcycle helmets can dramatically reduce the chances of a fatal head injury in a crash and potentially save a rider’s life.

According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), motorcycle accidents cause about 28 times more fatalities than passenger vehicle accidents based on miles traveled. The IIHS reports that helmets can reduce the chance of a fatal head injury by up to 37% and the chance of a brain injury by up to 67%.

Types of Motorcycle Helmets

Motorcyclists have a wide variety of options when it comes to motorcycle helmets. The first step in choosing the safest motorcycle helmet is selecting an appropriately configured one. Motorcycle helmet options generally revolve around how much the helmet covers the head and the options available with them.

  • A full-face helmet completely covers the head and face with an enclosed helmet and visor. These helmets generally offer the highest level of head protection.
  • A modular helmet completely covers the back of the head and has a visor the wearer can raise over his or her eyes. A modular helmet can help a rider adjust his or her head protection and alter the configuration of the helmet easily to account for changing road conditions.
  • Dual sport helmets are fully enclosed helmets typically suited to both road use and off-road use. These helmets usually include a head ridge that extends in front of the visor to help absorb the force of a frontal impact to the face.
  • An open-face helmet has a hard shell covering the head but no facemask. Eye protection is important to any rider, so a rider using an open-face helmet will need goggles or a visor to retain visibility while riding with this type of helmet.
  • Half-shell helmets only cover the top of the head and may include attachments like facemasks and visors. These can be suitable for low-speed riding but generally offer far less protection than full-face helmets.

Some state laws require motorcyclists to wear specific types of helmets or purchase helmets that conform to the Department of Transportation’s regulations for proper motorcycle helmets. The DOT generally requires full-face helmets made using DOT-approved materials and technologies.

Helmet Materials

Once you determine the type of helmet you need, the next step in finding the best motorcycle helmet is choosing a shell material. Polycarbonate is the most common but offers the lowest level of protection, flexing as it absorbs energy. Fiberglass composite helmets flex and split as they absorb impact and generally cost more than polycarbonate models. Carbon fiber helmets distribute crash forces more evenly over their surfaces and are the lightest and most expensive helmets. Some helmets also feature EPS, a densely compacted foam material that creates a shock-absorbing inner shell.

Safety Ratings and Fitting

Before purchasing any motorcycle helmet, it is essential to check the helmet’s safety ratings. The DOT assigns safety ratings for various metrics to all U.S.-made motorcycle helmets. Narrow down your search to a few possible helmet options and then compare safety ratings. Safety is always more important than aesthetics or optional features, but most motorcyclists find they can customize virtually any motorcycle helmet without degrading safety.

It is also essential to find a helmet that fits properly. A poorly-fitted helmet not only provides less effective crash protection but may also potentially cause an accident. For example, a helmet that is too loose may slip down over the rider’s eyes while riding and even this momentary interruption may be enough to cause a crash. If you are a victim of a motorcycle accident due to a defective product or another’s negligence, contact our Phoenix motorcycle accident lawyers. Our experienced attorneys offer free consultations so you can explore your legal options.