Motorcycle helmets come in all sorts of colors and designs but not all of them will protect your head from injury if you are involved in an accident. So then how does a consumer know which helmet is best for him? Two factors which may help a motorcyclist decide are the safety standard met and the shape of the helmet.
In the U.S. all motorcycle helmets must meet the Department of Transportation (DOT) helmet standards. These helmets are designed to help protect the skull from 90% of impact types. A non-profit organization, SNELL, also tests impact resistance on motorcycle helmets but uses different criteria. SNELL claims to have the industry’s toughest standards and is focused on shock absorbing during an impact. While there is much controversy over which standard is better, it is ultimately up to the individual rider to determine which one is more beneficial to him.
In addition to deciding which safety standard is most beneficial, riders should also choose a style of helmet that will offer the amount of protection they are looking for. There are three types of motorcycle helmet: the full-face helmet (covers the entire head including the chin, and front of the face), the three quarter “flip down” helmet (does not cover the chin but usually has a piece that flips down to protect the eyes), and the half “beanie” helmet (only has the basic components). Generally the full-face helmet offers the most protection in the event of an accident. On the other hand, the flip down helmet protects the head only 55.5% of the time. Even worse, the beanie helmet is the most likely to come off during and impact and therefore, only protects the rider’s head 38.6% of the time.
While some states do not require motorcyclists to wear helmets, state agencies strongly encourage that riders do wear helmets. Even if you are properly trained and respect the rules of the road, accidents still happen. In the event of an accident, the single most important piece of gear a rider can have is the proper helmet.