Safety on Two Wheels: How to Choose the Best Motorcycle Helmet
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injury by 69%, and the risk of death by 37% after a motorcycle accident. Our very own client, Remington Bloch, credits his helmet with saving his life after the horrific motorcycle accident that cost him his right leg. He vouches for the importance of helmet safety and maintains that a good helmet is essential for any motorcycle enthusiast.
If this isn’t enough to convince you to wear a helmet, Florida’s universal helmet law might be. The law requires that all motorcycle riders and passengers wear helmets that comply with federal safety standards. The only way a motorcyclist in Florida can evade this rule is if they’re over the age of 21 and have insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical benefits.
But not all motorcycle helmets are the same. When shopping for your helmet, use the following tips to select the safest one for you. The safer your helmet, the less likely you are to sustain a face, head, or brain injury in an accident.
Shop for Full-Face Coverage
Motorcycle helmets come in three main shapes: full-face, three-quarters, and half. For the best protection, shop only for full-face motorcycle helmets – the kind that protect the entire head, face, and chin, with a built-in visor to protect the eyes. Full-face helmets are the only style that will keep the chin, mouth, teeth, nose, eyes, and head safe while riding. Opting for a half or three-quarters helmet could spell trouble if you strike your face on the curb or asphalt in an accident. Blunt force trauma to any part of your face or head could be fatal.
Look for the DOT Sticker
Florida’s law requires the use of helmets that comply with federal safety standards. These standards according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration include specific impact attenuation, peak acceleration, penetration, retention system, configuration, and labeling requirements. Federal helmet regulations are highly specific and can be confusing even for motorcycle veterans.
If you don’t want to worry about checking each helmet to see if it meets the complex federal safety requirements, simply look for the Department of Transportation (DOT) seal of approval. The DOT sticker only goes on helmets that meet all the federal safety regulations. Keep in mind, however, that the DOT sticker only ensures that the helmet meets the minimum levels of performance accepted. This means helmets with DOT stickers do not necessarily take additional steps to ensure safety.
Check for Snell Memorial Foundation Approval
While not all motorcyclists agree on the “safest” motorcycle helmet brand, you can read reviews and decide which sounds right for you. Thousands of motorcyclists agree that The Snell Standard is the best motorcycle helmet performance test. Snell tests helmets based not only on federal requirements, but for additional safety features such as how the helmet stands up to typical scenarios it might encounter on the road.
Snell conducts impact, positional stability, dynamic retention, chin bar, shell penetration, face shield penetration, and flame resistance tests on helmets to gauge their performance. If a helmet has the Snell sticker of approval, it can withstand a wide range of accident types and scenarios.
Choose the Right Helmet for You
You can purchase the safest helmet on the market and it still wouldn’t adequately protect you if you don’t select the right size and fit. Your helmet should fit securely around your head and chin, fitting snugly on your skull without adding too much pressure. The helmet should not shake or move around at all when on your head. Chin straps and rivets should be sturdy and fit comfortably. Try on your helmet before you buy it, and take it for a test run if the shop permits you to do so. See how it feels after 10 minutes of wear. The helmet should not be so tight as to give you a headache or so loose as to flop around when you move.