There are millions of motorcycles sharing the road with other vehicles across the country. While many riders have never had an accident on their bike, there are serious risks involved with owning and riding a motorcycle. In many cases, riders are more likely to be seriously injured or killed in an accident compared to car passengers and drivers, especially if they are not wearing a helmet or other protective gear.
The Governors Highway Safety Association found that motorcycle fatalities dropped 7 percent in 2013, though the decline was not felt evenly across states. For example, in Michigan, fatalities declined 1 percent for motorcyclists. However, road fatalities for those not wearing a helmet rose 9 percent during the same time.
What helmets can do
A helmet is the best way a motorcyclist can protect themselves from serious injury while on the road, according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. While a helmet will not prevent all injuries, it will help protect a rider's head, including the brain and face. In the event of a crash, a helmet can help absorb some of the impact, reducing the chances of a serious injury. In addition, a helmet can increase comfort for riders, reducing wind effects such as noise and force.
"By far, helmets are the single most effective way to prevent serious injury and death in the event of a motorcycle crash," said Kendell Poole, director of the Tennessee Office of Highway Safety and chairman of the GHSA. "But states are going backward when it comes to enacting this proven, lifesaving countermeasure."
According to the GHSA, only 19 states currently have laws mandating helmet use for motorcyclists, though another 28 have laws requiring the protection for riders younger than 18 or 21. However, three states have no requirements for helmets. In an effort to improve rider safety, more states may soon adopt helmet requirements.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also found that universal helmet laws could greatly reduce the overall costs of motorcycle insurance.
Choosing a helmet
If you're a motorcycle owner, it is in your best interest to invest in a good helmet that fits well and will protect you in an accident. While you might want a helmet that looks cool and matches your bike or motorcycle jacket, finding one that fits properly and has enough comfort is more important.
When it comes to fit, finding the right helmet goes beyond small, medium or large. Starting with your hat size is a good place to start, though it's a good idea to try on several to find the best fit. The best way to put on a helmet is to hold it by the chin straps with the bottom of the helmet facing down. Hold the straps with your thumbs and spread the sides of the helmet before pulling the helmet over your head.
The helmet cheek pads should fit over your cheeks, but not push uncomfortably. Press the chin piece on if there is one. If there is a face or chin shield, it should not touch your face. However, between the temples and the brow pads, there should be no space.