Motorcycle helmets are the best way to prevent a serious head injury. They
saved approximately 1,699 lives in 2012, according to the National Highway
Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
However, not all helmets are created equal.
In a study of motorcycle crash victims treated at a Maryland hospital,
50 percent of those wearing a substandard helmet (also called a novelty
helmet) received a head injury compared to 23 percent of motorcyclists
wearing helmets certified by the Department of Transportation (DOT).
The NHTSA also tested seven popular substandard helmets to determine how
they compare to DOT certified helmets. The results showed that the novelty
helmets fail to adequately protect riders. Accordingly, the agency concluded
that “motorcycle riders who wear substandard helmets and believe
that ‘something is better than nothing’ have a false sense
of security regarding the protection afforded them by these helmets as
compared to certified helmets.”
Fortunately, it is now easier to verify that you are wearing a safe helmet.
Under new product labeling standards, motorcycle helmets manufactured
after May 2013 are required to have labels containing the manufacturer
or brand name, the model designation, the “DOT” symbol, and
verification that they are “FMVSS No. 218 Certified.”
Helmets can also be subject to product safety recalls. The NHTSA will issue
a recall notice if a helmet does not meet federal safety requirements
and is not safe to wear. You can sign up for alerts at Safercar.gov.