As the weather starts to heat up, there are more and more motorcycles on the road, especially here in Florida. Motorcyclists appear in boisterous, colorful packs on the highways, exchanging their unique hand signals with one another, enjoying the feel of the sun on their backs, breathing in the spring air, feeling every curve in the road with their tires, and constantly adjusting their balance to maintain their oneness with the pavement. Motorcycles give their riders a sense of freedom that can’t be experienced from the confines of a steel-enclosed, four-wheeled vehicle.
Unfortunately that freedom comes at a price for those motorcyclists who choose to ride without a helmet. A 2007 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that per mile traveled, motorcyclists are 37 times more likely to be killed in a crash than are occupants in passenger cars. In 2008, helmets were credited with saving more than 1800 lives and identified as the single-most important protective gear that a motorcyclist can use to prevent traumatic brain injury. And yet surprisingly, only 20 U.S. states require helmet use by all motorcyclists.
If you do choose to ride a motorcycle, take advantage of every opportunity to keep yourself safe. Check with your local Department of Motor Vehicles to sign up for a motorcycle safety course. Be sure that your insurance coverage is up-to-date and provides you with the most comprehensive package you can afford. Know the motorcycle helmet laws for your own state and for any others that you might plan to visit while touring. Consumer Reports provides a helpful graphic showing the various laws across the country, but be sure to check for updates since laws are subject to change. And most importantly, choose a helmet that will protect you in the case of an accident.
Motorcycle Helmet Purchasing Tips
When selecting a helmet, go to a reputable shop with a wide variety of styles. First of all, they will help you determine the best style of helmet for you, based on whether you plan to do competitive racing, long-distance touring, or just short trips to rallies to meet up with other enthusiasts. Each helmet style — full-face, open-face, shorty, or modular, just to name a few — offers different comfort and safety levels; a variety of designs and colors means you can choose one that fits your personality, too. At a full-service motorcycle accessory shop, you can also learn the differences between DOT helmet ratings and the ratings done by various other testing agencies, to be sure that the helmet you are purchasing meets the minimum safety standards. DOT-approved helmets have been tested for protection from impact and penetration, as well as making sure the helmet stays on the head during impact.
A reputable shop will also know how to get the proper fit for your head size and shape, and can assist you with adjusting the removable padding to get a fit that is snug but not restrictive or uncomfortable. Most shops will also allow you to take the helmet on a test ride to see how it feels when you are actually on the move.
With proper use and cleaning, your motorcycle helmet should last for several years. Helmets with removable inner padding will often last longer since the pads can be removed and washed to remove the build-up of sweat and road dust. You’ll find a wide variety of prices in any shop, but don’t be tempted to cut corners by buying a used helmet. Any helmet should be replaced after five years, or if it has been worn during an accident (even if there is no visible damage).
At the Dolman Law Group, we know that sometimes even the most careful motorcycle riders, who obey all traffic laws and always wear protective gear, are victims of roadway negligence and reckless driving. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, please know that the Dolman Law Group is committed to ensuring that you receive fair treatment and proper compensation for your injuries. Please call us at 727-451-6900 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765