Anyone who gets on a motorcycle should understand the safety risks involved in riding. Regardless of whether a person is driving the motorcycle or is merely a passenger, riding a motorcycle is inherently more dangerous than riding in a car or other larger vehicle.
Despite these dangers, many Californians ride their motorcycles on a frequent basis, and do so safely and without incident. Just like people who partake in any other activity that involves known dangers, motorcyclists can take certain precautions to increase their odds of avoiding severe injuries.
The helmet is perhaps the single most important piece of safety equipment for riders because it protects them from head injury in case of an accident. However, not all helmets are created equal, and riders in Orange County should understand that some helmets may not offer them adequate protection.
Because motorcycle helmets are such vital pieces of safety gear, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) requires certain minimum performance levels for every helmet sold in the country. However, even in states like California, which has a state law adopting the federal safety standard for helmets, some unsafe helmets can inevitably make their way to the marketplace.
Accordingly, riders should be able to identify whether their helmets are safe. All motorcycle helmets that meet federal safety requirements must have a DOT sticker certifying that the helmet complies with those standards. Furthermore, the helmet manufacturer must place a label on the inside of the helmet that shows the model, construction material and other identifying information.
Unfortunately, labeling alone does not guarantee that the helmet is safe. Riders should also look for a thick inner lining in the helmet; unsafe helmets usually have soft foam or no inner padding at all. In addition, all DOT certified helmets have a sturdy chinstrap with rivets, and these helmets weigh about three pounds.
Finally, a DOT compliant helmet cannot have anything extending more than two-tenths of an inch from the helmet. Thus, if the headgear has something that is protruding from it, odds are it is not safe for use.
No matter how safe and careful a motorcyclist is while on the road, he or she still could fall victim to another person's negligence and end up in a motorcycle accident. Therefore, riders should do all that they can to protect themselves from broken bones and head injuries. A helmet is required safety equipment for all riders, but they should ensure that the ones they are wearing are safe under state and federal law.
Source: NHTSA.gov, "How To Identify Unsafe Motorcycle Helmets," Accessed on Aug. 31, 2015