Motorcycle Riders: Please Beware Of 'Novelty' Motorcycle Helmets

One of the more contentious road safety issues in the U.S. continues to be whether or not the use of motorcycle helmets should be required. Motorcyclists value freedom, and for some, that means letting the wind flow through their hair as they ride down the highway. Others are not opposed to wearing helmets but believe that they shouldn’t be legally compelled to do so.

Currently, 19 states have “universal” helmet laws, meaning that all riders are required to wear helmets. Michigan is not among them, having repealed its universal helmet law in 2012. Our state laws only require helmets on riders and passengers under the age of 21 or those who don’t have additional insurance.

No matter what your views on motorcycle helmet laws, you are hopefully in favor of motorcycle helmet use. In the event of a motorcycle accident, this relatively inexpensive device could literally save your life. That is, of course, if you buy one that meets federal safety standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In recent years, an increasing number of riders have opted instead to buy “novelty helmets.” These tend to be lighter, less expensive and far less effective than safety-certified helmets. And they are often chosen for style rather than function.

Most brick-and-mortar retailers only sell safety-certified helmets, but please be sure to check labeling just in case. More often than not, novelty helmets are only available online.

Because Michigan has no universal helmet law, adult riders with the required insurance coverage will not face legal penalties for riding bare-headed. But regardless of any laws, wearing a helmet is the smart, life-affirming choice. And as long as you’re making that choice, please also make sure to buy a helmet that is safety-certified.

Source: CBS This Morning, "Novelty motorcycle helmets: Some riders choosing style over safety," May 31, 2013

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