Motorcyclist Injury Increased With Novelty Helmet Use

Video captured recently by a Florida red light camera showed a motorcyclist landing on his feet – and walking away – from a crash that occurred at an intersection after a car made an improper left turn. biker2

The incredible incident left police amazed that the man was not more severely injured, and that his greatest problem since has been getting to work without his motorcycle, which was totaled.

Our West Palm Beach motorcycle accident attorneys know far too many motorcyclists aren’t as fortunate. This is why the National Highway Traffic Safety Association recently issued a report indicating the rising use of novelty helmets is a growing concern.

According to the agency, some 800,000 of these novelty helmets are sold every year, and such sales have coincided with an increase of motorcyclist deaths. Approximately 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in the U.S. in 2012.

A study commissioned by the NHTSA concluded the helmets are essentially worthless in protecting a rider’s skull in a wreck. Researchers indicate that while many riders take on the mentality that “something is better than nothing,” the truth of the matter is these helmets afford a false sense of security.

What’s worse is that some riders believed they were wearing a federally-approved helmet, when in fact that was not the case.

There have been cases in which novelty helmets are affixed with comparable models of Department of Transportation safety labels, making it seem as if the helmets met federal safety standards.

Still, sales of novelty helmets, which are often far cheaper than higher-quality models, remains legal in many states, including Florida, so long as manufacturers and distributors don’t purport to meet federal regulatory standards. There are a number of states – Florida among them – that do not require helmets for motorcyclists at all, which means the novelty helmets aren’t barred.

A recent study in Maryland analyzing trauma center patients admitted to one Baltimore hospitals found that half of all motorcyclists wearing novelty helmets were admitted following crashes, compared to 23 percent of riders wearing helmets that were certified by DOT.

Tests conducted by the DOT found that federally-approved helmet models will allow no more than 400 grams of acceleration force to the head. Substandard novelty helmets, meanwhile, allow acceleration forces of up to 1,000 grams. Side-by-side images of a novelty helmet versus a DOT-approved helmet indicated the impact attenuating liner, comfort liner, shell and retention system were all significantly less substantial in the novelty helmet.

In total, motorcyclists comprise 15 percent of all roadway fatalities, even though they represent just 3 percent of all registered drivers.

The NHTSA is continuing to study ways in which such sales could  be limited, but previous proposals to do so have been delayed repeatedly. As of May 2013, all motorcyclist helmets must be manufactured according to an updated standard. The labels for federally-approved helmets need to clearly show the model designation, brand name or manufacturer, the DOT symbol and must state whether the helmet is “FMVSS No. 218 Certified.”

Riders can look for this designation on the back of the helmet.

If you have been injured in an accident, contact the Hollander Law Firm at 888-751-7770 for a free and confidential consultation. There is no fee unless we win.

Additional Resources:

Booming Sales of Novelty Helmets Boost Motorcycle Deaths, April 22, 2013, Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

More Blog Entries:

O’Connell v. Walmsley – Negligence in Car Accident Case, July 5, 2014, Boca Raton Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Blog