DOT Addresses Motorcycle Helmets
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a press release regarding a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to help protect motorcyclists from unsafe helmets. Additionally, the NPRM would also aid state efforts to enforce existing motorcycle helmet laws. This rule will potentially address the problem with ongoing use of ‘novelty motorcycle helmets.’ We’ve all seen these helmets. Sure, they look cool, but they don’t do much as far as safety is concerned.
Motorcycle Helmet Safety Facts
- Helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries to riders.
- The NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,699 motorcyclists’ lives in 2012.
- The NHTSA also estimates that an additional 781 lives could have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
Novelty Helmets Versus DOT Approved Safety Helmets
A novelty motorcycle helmet is just that, a novelty. It doesn’t provide any real safety protection. They’re usually poorly constructed. They do not meet DOT safety standards for crash protection, yet they’re often marketed and sold to motorcyclists for on-road use. A recent study found that trauma-inducing motorcycle crashes are concerned, 56 percent of riders wearing novelty helmets had serious head injuries, compared with 19 percent of riders in DOT-certified helmets.
Motorcycle Crash Facts
- In 2013, 4,668 motorcyclists were killed in crashes.
- In 2012, 4,957 motorcyclists died in traffic crashes.
- An estimated 93,000 motorcycle riders were injured in 2012.
- In 2011, an estimated 81,000 motorcyclists were injured in crashes.
- Per vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists were 26 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash.
Informing Motorcyclist Consumers
The NHTSA’s proposed rule would add to current regulations about what products can be considered and marketed as motorcycle helmets, and how novelty helmets can be identified to consumers. Additionally, there will also be preliminary screening criteria to help law enforcement officers to quickly identify and determine if motorcycle helmets meet the current minimum federal performance standards for safety.
Motorcycle riders know all too well that you can’t predict what other drivers are going to do. You can only take the appropriate steps to protect yourself. These steps can include wearing safety gear like jackets and DOT-approved helmets and practicing defensive strategies.