Many motorcycle riders in California like to pay attention to both their appearance and their pocketbook. However, when buying a helmet, riders should never choose price or fashion over form and quality.
Not every helmet that is available for purchase will do a good job of protecting a motorcycle rider in the event of a serious accident. Many establishments sell so-called "novelty helmets" that come in a variety of interesting styles and are sold at a lower price. However, most of these helmets do not meet the safety standards set by the federal government.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study of several models of non-certified helmets and found that they offer almost no protection at all. Each model left a rider with a 100 percent chance of sustaining brain injury or skull fracture in a motorcycle accident. In the wake of the study, the NHTSA said that wearing a novelty helmet is essentially the same as wearing nothing at all.
Federally-certified helmets, on the other hand, can reduce the chance of death by more than one-third. They also offer substantial protection against non-fatal traumatic brain injury and skull fracture.
Companies are allowed to make and sell novelty helmets so long as they are not misrepresenting their product to consumers. This means that they cannot falsely claim that their helmets meet federal safety standards.
If you are shopping for a new motorcycle helmet, make sure you check to see that it has been approved by the federal government. It is not worth risking your life simply to save a few dollars.
Source: Fair Warning, "Booming Sales of Novelty Helmets Boost Toll of Motorcycle Deaths," Rick Schmitt, April 22, 2013
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