Driving down an open freeway on a clear day with the wind blowing through your hair sounds very appealing to many people. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in listening to the hum of your motorcycle and watching the extraordinary Florida scenery go by. As you get into the groove of the experience the last thing on your mind is the safety of your head. But, consider that motorcycle accident death due to head and brain injury are a real concern. Lives are saved when motorcyclists wear helmets that meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 218.
Helmet Safety Requirements
In Florida, helmets approved by the Depart of Transportation are required for everyone under 21 years of age regardless of whether they are a passenger or operator. While highly recommended for all motorcyclists, helmets are not mandatory for those over 21 years of age who can show proof of a minimum of $10,000.00 in insurance coverage that will pay for any injuries received as a result of a motorcycle accident.
So, what is an approved helmet? The US Department has set a minimum standard of performance for protecting your head and brain. This is the FMVSS 218 standard. All required helmets must meet this basic standard; however, there are higher standards and therefore even safer helmets available. The popular organizations known for setting these higher standards are the Snell Foundation, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE.) When one or more these stickers are on your helmet, you can be assured that the federal safety standard is being met.
You can spot an approved helmet by looking for the DOT sticker and one of the above-mentioned stickers on or inside the helmet. Manufacturers are also required to put pertinent information on the helmet. This includes the name of the manufacturer, the year and month of manufacture, model and size of helmet, construction materials and other information.
Illegal and Unsafe Motorcycle Helmets
If the helmet you are considering does not have the proper labels, chances are it is not legal to wear it while motorcycling. And why would you want to wear an unsafe helmet anyway? When you consider kids are required to wear helmets when riding, you’ll want to be extra diligent to make sure their helmets are compliant. Many of the novelty helmets available do not meet the 218 federal safety standard and keep in mind this standard is based on minimum performance. When it comes to your kids, you want to make sure they are well protected. Some novelty helmets look like compliant helmets, so it is vital you look for proof of compliance.
In Addition to the Stickers . . . .
There are other clues indicating a highly rated helmet. The inner liner of a compliant helmet will have at least one-inch thickness of polystyrene foam. Even if the liner cannot be seen, you should be able to feel it. If the helmet does not have padding or the padding seems soft, it’s not safe. Compliant helmets usually weigh about three pounds. Lighter helmets don’t meet the requirements and are not substantial against injury. Sturdy chinstraps with solid rivets are another indicator of compliance. Protrusions, such as spikes or studs larger than two-tenths of an inch, are not allowed on an approved DOT helmet.
Knowledge Is Power and Safety
When you go shopping for that new helmet, knowledge regarding the options for selecting one that’s highly rated for yourself or your young passenger will give you a sense of confidence. Making a wise purchase will also greatly increase your chances for a better outcome should you have an accident. While the highest rated helmets, such as those certified by the Snell Foundation, may be more expensive, in the long run, if that helmet saves your life or that of your child, it will be priceless.
While wearing an approved helmet may save your life, it can’t prevent an accident from happening. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident and need legal advice or have questions about what recourse you may have, call Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A. We’re in the community and we are here to help you.