Head and neck protection in a motorcycle accident is crucial.
Studies have shown that the severity and longevity of injuries in motorcycle accidents is greatly reduced in helmet wearers, and of course, it is compulsory to wear one. Choosing a helmet is an important part of bike ownership, and should be taken seriously.
All motorcyclists are, or should be, aware of the importance of replacing a helmet after an accident or crash where there may have been head impact, no matter how minor it may seem. Even if the outer shell of the helmet is not visible cracked or damaged, it must be replaced as helmets are not designed to withstand multiple impacts and the inner foam parts will be compromised.
Most of the major manufacturers also recommend replacing a helmet at least every five years, if not sooner, whether or not it has been subjected to any impact. Some offer an inspection or repair service, so if you do drop your helmet or are worried about it’s integrity at all, then this may be useful to put your mind at rest.
Older helmets than this will need to be replaced immediately. Pre 1974 helmets are not only too old to likely still be safe, but will have been manufactured before the laws were changed to make helmet wear compulsory; meaning that they have not been designed to modern safety standards. Helmets of this age will also not benefit from modern design and materials, and so are usually heavy and uncomfortable.
Like child car seats, you should never purchase a used helmet, as you will have no idea of its history and whether it has been involved in any accident.
Choosing a helmet
All motorcycle helmets sold in the UK must conform to ECE 22-05 or the older British Standard 6658, otherwise known as Type A (blue label) or Type B (green label), and it makes sense to purchase Type A, which has been designed and built for both durability and extra protection.
Designs vary wildly, and modern materials and design techniques mean that there are a plethora of styles and designs on the market. Comfort is equally important, and the fit plays an integral role in the helmet’s safety. With the helmet on and the chinstrap tightened, it should feel snug but not uncomfortable. Head shapes mean that not every size or style is suitable for every rider, so ask advice and make sure you try on as many examples as necessary.
Ensure your field of visibility is wide enough for safety with helmet on, and that it is comfortable to wear. The top pad should press firmly against your head, and the cheek pads need to be in light contact with your cheeks. You should have no space between forehead and helmet, and be unable to rotate the helmetwithout also rotating your head, meaning the helmet is a snug fit.
The helmet should not move at all when the head is shaken from side to side, or from back to front. The helmet should be impossible to remove when the chinstrap is done up properly, otherwise this means it will almost certainly come off in an accident.
After purchase it is vital that you read and follow the manufacturer’s care instructions. Correct storage is important as certain chemicals for example petrol or solvents; as well as heat can damage or cause deterioration to the helmet. Cleaning instructions should also be adhered to closely so as not to cause any damage to the helmet.
Your helmet is the most important piece of safety equipment you will use when riding your bike. Sadly, head injuries account for the vast majority of motorcycle deaths. Take time and care to choose the correct helmet for you, look after it and then replace it when necessary, ensuring that it has EC or BS Approval marking and the date of manufacture.