Deadly motorcycle accidents are on the rise, with 4,668 fatalities in 2013
alone. While helmets can help riders survive a crash, they are not all
created equal. In fact, some motorcycle helmets on the market provide
little protection from head injury.
To address this issue, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration
proposed new regulations intended to limit the use of “novelty motorcycle
helmets,” which the agency notes do not meet federal safety standards for crash
protection, but are frequently marketed and sold for on-road use.
In further support of the new rules, the NHTSA cites a study of motorcyclists
injured in crashes. It showed that 56 percent of those wearing a novelty
helmet had serious head injuries, compared to 19 percent of riders who
were wearing a Department of Transportation (DOT) certified helmet.
“Wearing a helmet that meets DOT standards can literally mean the
difference between life and death,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark
Rosekind. “Our proposal ensures that when motorcyclists put on a
helmet it offers that life-saving protection.”
Due to safety concerns about novelty helmets, 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.” The
new requirements were intended to make decals more difficult to counterfeit,
which is common among users of novelty helmets in states where DOT-certified
helmets are required.
latest NHTSA rule proposal establishes that all motorcycle helmets that have the apparent purpose
of protecting highway users are subject to the NHTSA’s jurisdiction.
The change is intended to boost the NHTSA’s ability to prevent the
importation and sale of non-compliant helmets.
The new rules would also create criteria that can be used to identify helmets
that do not comply with the federal standard. According to the NHTSA,
the additional requirements and the associated test procedures would help
motorcyclists and law enforcement officers more readily identify those
helmets that likely cannot meet performance requirements. Criteria would
include the thickness of the inner liner and the outer shell as well as
the liner’s ability to resist deformation, which indicates its ability
to absorb crash energy.
If you or someone you love has been seriously injured by a dangerous or
defective product, don’t hesitate to
contacta San Diego product liability attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.