The single most important safety device a motorcyclist can have is a helmet.
Approximately 2,000 motorcyclists are killed, and more than 50,000 are injured in traffic crashes each year. Many of these injuries and deaths could be prevented if motorcycle riders and their passengers wore helmets.
Motorcycle helmets have a hard outer shell that distributes the force of an impact to protect the skull and prevents objects from piercing it. The crushable inner liner limits the force of impacts by absorbing a portion of the energy that would otherwise reach the head and brain. As the helmet does its job, the number and severity of head injuries are significantly reduced.
Helmets cannot work if they are improperly designed. Federal safety standards determine the amount of force helmets should absorb and the amount of peripheral vision the helmets must allow. Only helmets that meet or exceed these standards should be worn.
According to national statistics, motorcycle riders involved in traffic crashes will be injured 80 percent of the time regardless of whether or not they are wearing protective gear. The most effective way to reduce motorcycle injuries and fatalities is to prevent crashes from occurring through a comprehensive program of rider education and training, improved licensing, alcohol education and motorist awareness.
Helmets prevent brain injury. Motorcycle helmets save lives and prevent devastating and debilitating head injuries. Motorcyclists who ride without helmets run a significantly greater risk of death or permanent injury.
Interestingly, motorcycle helmets are not designed (and can’t be) to provide complete protection from injury in every case. Most riders injured in motorcycle accidents, and even most head injuries in motorcycle accidents, involve helmeted riders.
For more information, check out our Motorcycle Injury & Safety Links section.