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Motorcycle Helmets That Fail to Meet DOT Safety Standards Can Pose Serious Safety Risks

October 15, 2016

Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Remind Riders Motorcycle Helmets That Fail to Meet DOT Safety Standards Can Pose Serious Safety Risks

If you have ever been involved in a motorcycle accident or had a near miss, you know the importance of having a helmet. When you lay your bike down, the probability of your head impacting the roadway is extremely high. A helmet can prevent traumatic brain injuries and fatalities. Head injuries are the leading cause of wrongful death in motorcycle collisions. However, novelty helmets that do not meet Department of Transportation (DOT) safety standards have become increasingly popular. While these helmets may be aesthetically appealing, riders who prioritize a stylish appearance often pay a high price in terms of safety.

Motorcycle helmets that meet DOT standards reduce the risk of fatal head injuries in motorcycle crashes by 37 percent according to a study conducted by the Insurance Information Institute. Although motorcycle crashes account for less than one percent of vehicle miles traveled in the U.S., motorcycle collisions account for 14 percent of all traffic-related fatalities. Head injuries are the leading cause of motorcycle accident fatalities.

Despite the value of a motorcycle helmet, novelty helmets can provide a false sense of security. They often possess limited or no impact-attenuating lining inside the protective shell. These appearance-based helmets lack adequate penetration resistance and provide weak retention systems so that they are prone to coming off during a collision. A study of novelty helmets conducted by the National Highway Transportation Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that the novelty helmets tested failed to provide sufficient protection from either penetration or impact threats.

According to the NHTSA, novelty helmets increase the risk of a skull fracture and brain injury when compared to helmets approved by the Department of Transportation (DOT). The agency indicated that if a rider falls and has his or her head collide with a rigid object, such as the asphalt of the roadway, the rider will likely sustain a fatal head injury. The federal agency also indicated that riders often assume "something is better than nothing," but this simply leads to a false sense of security when using a novelty helmet as opposed to one that complies with minimum safety standards.

Helmets that meet these minimum standards will have a DOT sticker on the inside of the helmet. Snell and ANSI also provide helmet certification standards, and their designations also typically appear inside the helmet along with the DOT sticker. Because there have been reports of counterfeit stickers being placed inside helmets, there are other features you can look for to determine that your helmet will provide protection consistent with minimum approved standards. The protective shell should be at least one inch thick and have a thick foam protective liner inside the shell, according to the NHTSA. The helmet also should be equipped with durable, and strong straps attached by rivets. The strap should also be difficult to detach inadvertently based on safety standards.

Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law
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Atlanta, GA 30329
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Category: Personal Injury

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Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.