There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about motorcycle riders. People often say we have a death wish or they misconstrue us as careless adrenaline junkies with no thought of consequence. The truth is most riders are very aware of how we put our lives on the line every time we ride. In fact I could argue that motorcycle riders are more aware of the consequences of a high speed crash than the general public. Although despite this knowledge, many riders still choose to ride without a helmet and the statistics are showing the consequences of it. Before you get angry with me I’m not here to support helmet laws, I don’t think you should have to be forced to do something you don’t want to. I do believe that we need more information readily available for riders to choose the best protection. Helmets save lives, there is no way around that. So today, I’d like to bring you the truth about helmets from the facts brought to us by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA). Here at J&P Cycles, we want our customers to ride safe. No matter how skilled you are, at the end of the day what we do is dangerous.
A common objection to helmet use is the misconception that brain injury prevention is outweighed by the probability of neck injury. The origin of this misconception is not clear, however a number of studies have failed to find neck injuries significantly over represented among helmeted riders. This suggests that helmets appear to have no clear effect on neck injuries. We have to keep in mind that when comparing helmet use in fatal crashes, as a collective un-helmeted riders tend to die in less severe crashes than helmeted riders. Simply because what should have been a relatively minor crash, turned fatal due to one unlucky blow to the unprotected head. On the flip side of this, a crash that turned fatal for a helmeted rider tends to be more violent with the rider sustaining severe below the neck injuries. With this in mind, let’s take an analysis of two major studies from the most credible sources available.
The MSF has a plethora of scientific research in their online library readily available for anyone curious enough to take the time to dive in. One article that I found particularly interesting investigated the “helmets break necks” hypothesis through a detailed reconstruction of 304 fatally injured motorcyclists in 295 crashes in Los Angeles County, with an emphasis on the causality of head and neck injuries. Tragically, during the study the University of Southern California Motorcycle Research Team had to actually start rejecting cases involving un-helmeted riders because of the low portion of helmeted rider cases. This truly speaks to the danger of riding without a helmet. This article “Helmets and Neck Injuries in Fatal Motorcycle Crashes” found that helmet use had no significant effect on neck injuries in the examined motorcycle crashes. An interesting outcome of this study is that helmet weight had no consistent effect on most of the neck injuries examined.
The NHTSA 2009 report “Motorcycle Helmet Use and Head and Facial Injuries” examined the relationship between helmet use and crash outcomes in terms of injury types. The resulting data shows statistical evidence that non-helmet wearers had significantly more facial, neck, and head injuries that required hospitalization as compared to helmeted riders. Additionally, statistics showed that non-helmeted riders suffered more severe injuries when accidents occurred as compared to helmeted riders. Numbers don’t lie, we can conclude from this evidence that crashing without a helmet leaves the rider at a greater chance for sustaining head and neck trauma than if the rider were to wear a helmet.
Here at J&P Cycles we want our customers to ride safe. We fully support and encourage the use of a helmet when riding. Whether you’re just going to the store or across the country, always opt for a helmet. You never know, it could save your life.