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What makes a motorcycle helmet safe?

Motorcycle riding experts in North Carolina generally agree that one of the best things that any rider can do to improve their chances of surviving a crash is to wear the right gear; all the right gear. Of course, the definition of what the right gear is seems to vary somewhat depending on the expert you talk to.

No less than long-time Hells Angel and now-author Sonny Barger has a pretty complete list. Barger is in his 70s and has been motorcycling for about 40 of those. Back in 2011, he shared with AARP that he doesn't go anywhere, even to the corner market, without the following:

  • Leather Jacket
  • Jeans or leather chaps
  • Boots
  • Gloves
  • DOT-approved full-face helmet

That last one is said to be the most important, according to most experts. But the question many may have is what makes a motorcycle helmet safe? And the answer, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, is that there is no real consensus on the issue.

Two standards currently exist. One is the DOT certification mentioned earlier. The other is the Snell standard. DOT is considered by many to be the minimum that any rider should look for. Others say Snell standards are higher, but critics note the Snell test only takes one kind of accident into account, diminishing its value.

The LA Times report says building a better helmet is something of a holy grail in the motorcycling world. It may always be so, too, according to one product safety engineer. He says the only way to be sure you buy exactly the right helmet is to know exactly the kind of crash you are going to be in, and no one can predict that.

What is predictable is that if you are injured in a motorcycle accident the chances are going to be good that you will suffer a serious, possibly life-altering, injury. If it is caused by another's negligence or because your safety gear fails to perform as expected, you have a right to seek to hold the responsible parties accountable.

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What makes a motorcycle helmet safe? | Britton Law, P.A.