The safety benefits of wearing a helmet while on a motorcycle are undeniable. Unfortunately, many riders are still opting not to wear one at all – making them 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash than those who do wear them.
Here are some of the most common misconceptions that prevent riders from wearing a helmet and the truth behind them:
1. Helmets can cause damage to the neck and spine
Some motorcyclists think that the added weight of a motorcycle helmet – about 3.5 pounds on average – actually increases the risk of damaging your neck and spinal cord in a collision. However, research doesn’t support this claim. One study of over 900 motorcycle accidents and their resulting injuries found:
- Those wearing helmets experienced significantly fewer and less severe head and neck injuries than those who didn’t.
- The safety helmet caused only four of the 980 head and neck injuries, and all four injuries were minor.
2. Helmets impair vision and hearing
Wearing a motorcycle helmet does not reduce any senses needed to drive safely in traffic. All helmets allow for a field of vision of more than 210 degrees – which is more than the 140-degree standard driver licensing agencies use to identify vision impairment. One study found a motorcycle helmet limits less than 3% of peripheral vision.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), bikers can hear just as well or even better when wearing a helmet. Helmets can reduce the sound of distracting noises such as the wind or the engine to hear other vital sounds on the road better.
3. Helmets don’t work at high speeds
DOT tests helmet safety by vertically dropping the helmet from a six 6-foot height, which only produces a 13-mph impact. Many riders wrongly assume that this means helmets cannot withstand an impact faster than 13 mph.
These tests were based around DOT crash data demonstrating what typically happens to a motorcyclist in a collision. Years of crash data confirm that helmets are highly effective at preventing head injuries at speeds much higher than 13 mph.
4. You’ve been fine every time you ride without one
If you’ve managed to avoid severe injuries on your bike without wearing a helmet, you should consider yourself lucky. Motorcyclists are 16 times more likely to get into a fatal crash than car drivers. Wearing a helmet lessens your risk of fatality by roughly one-third.
There is no other piece of safety equipment that can protect you on your bike like a helmet. Ride smart and always wear your helmet on the road.