NHTSA to Crack Down on Novelty Motorcycle Helmets Sold as Safety Gear

motorcycle accident

Novelty helmets are not safety gear, NHTSA says.

Nearly 5,000 motorcyclists were killed in 2013 collisions, but many of them could have lived if it were not for their poorly constructed helmets, according to a press release by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Motorcycle rider deaths are disproportionally high. Our nation lost 4,668 motorcyclists in 2013 alone and protective helmets could have saved many of those lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx.

More than a thousand people every year survive motorcycle crashes because their helmet met U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) standards, the NHTSA report said.

Indeed, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s NHTSA announced today that it is creating rules to help make unsafe helmets easier to identify by consumers.

Under the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) announced today, the federal safety administration hopes to help motorcycle riders identify good helmets from bad helmets. The new regulations will build upon current standards and define exactly which products are considered motorcycle helmets. The rules will introduce criteria that will identify the types of helmets that are not compliant with the federal standard. Specifically, these rules will help riders and police enforcing helmet laws to identify novelty or cheaply-made helmets that do not protect riders.

“The popularity of “novelty motorcycle helmets” worn by bikers who want to look cool is leading to more serious injuries and more deaths,” said Attorney James Johnson, a personal injury attorney whose clients are often injured motorcycle riders. “These are helmets sold as safety gear, but they are not up to the standards required for on-road use.”

brain injury motorcycle helmet

Motorcyclists injured in crashes fair better with proper DOT helmets

According to a recent study of injured motorcyclists who were transported to shock trauma centers, more than half of riders who wore novelty helmets (56%) had a serious head injured compared to only 19 percent of those with certified Department of Transportation (DOT) helmets.

“Wearing a helmet that meets DOT standards can literally mean the difference between life and death,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “Our proposal ensures that when motorcyclists put on a helmet it offers that life-saving protection.”

Under the new proposal, helmets must meet minimum performance requirements such as sufficient thickness in the inner liner and outer shell. The helmet must resist deformation to be able to absorb the energy from a crash.

Riding a motorcycle should be fun, but safety comes first. Motorcyclists are at greater risk of injury on busy freeways and roads. If you are injured in a motorcycle accident and would like to know what your rights are, contact Johnson Attorneys Group at 800-235-6801 for a free consultation.

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