Jackson Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Discusses Risks Associated with Growing Popularity of Novelty Helmets

If you ride motorcycles in Jackson and the surrounding areas of Mississippi, you are well aware that many drivers fail to pay attention to the presence of motorcycle riders.  Because motorcycles are smaller than four wheeled vehicles, drivers of passenger vehicles frequently fail to notice or account for the possible presence of a motorcycle when executing a lane change or turn.  When riding a motorcycle, riders have a smaller margin of error and virtually no protection during a crash.  Head injuries are the most common form of catastrophic injury suffered by riders and also the leading cause of motorcycle fatalities.  While motorcycle helmets can substantially improve a rider’s prospects of surviving a motorcycle accident without serious head trauma, many riders are left largely unprotected because they wear novelty helmets that are designed for style rather than safety.

Mississippi’s Universal Motorcycle Helmet Law Is Designed to Protect All Riders

Mississippi has had a universal motorcycle helmet law that applies to all riders and passengers for over four decades.  While many states have enacted partial repeals of mandatory helmet laws based on the age of the rider, minimum medical insurance coverage or other conditions, our state continues to require all riders to wear helmet.  Although many riders reject the notion that the government should dictate helmet use, there is little dispute that motorcycle helmets that meet certain standards can substantially improve the survival rate for victims of motorcycle crashes.

Helmets Can Save Lives of Mississippi Motorcycle Accident Victims

A few statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provide a compelling case for the value of motorcycle helmets that meet minimum safety standards:

  • Motorcyclists are thirty times more likely to die in a traffic accident than occupants of passenger cars based on a per mile traveled basis.
  • Motorcycle accidents account for approximately 14 percent of motor vehicle fatalities despite the fact that the vehicles constitute only three percent of licensed vehicles.
  • Motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle fatalities.
  • Helmets saved the lives of 1,600 people nationally during a one year period, but it is estimated they would have saved an additional 700 lives if all riders had been wearing helmets.

Novelty Helmets: Style Over Substance

While these statistics make a compelling case for wearing a motorcycle helmet, these benefits are only fully realized if the rider is wearing a helmet that meets federal safety requirements.  Many novelty helmets offer little or no protection during a motorcycle crash.  These helmets often provide virtually no impact-attenuating lining nor do they meet minimum penetration standards.  There also is no assurance that the helmet will remain strapped on a rider’s head during a motorcycle crash.

Generally, motorcycle riders should look for the Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker on a helmet to ensure the helmet complies with minimum safety standards.  However, the sticker alone is not sufficient to ensure that a helmet complies with DOT standards because fake stickers are frequently affixed to counterfeit helmets.  The NHTSA has provided a checklist for riders attempting to evaluate whether a helmet meets federal safety standards:

  • Minimum one inch thick liner of polystyrene foam
  • Weight should be about three pounds (one pound or less is definitely unsafe)
  • Nothing should extend more than two tenths of an inch from the surface of the helmet
  • Sturdy rivets and chin strap
  • DOT sticker indicating that the helmet meets or exceeds FMVSS 218
  • Manufacturer label sticker

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Mississippi motorcycle accident or a loved one dies in a Jackson motorcycle crash, you may be entitled to financial compensation for your injuries or loss.   We invite you to contact our Mississippi motorcycle accident attorneys for a free consultation.  We invite you to call us today at (601) 355-2022 to see how we can help!