How to Choose a Motorcycle Helmet That is Right for You

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Riding a motorcycle is a risky activity. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the federal government estimates that in the year 2013, per miles traveled, the number of deaths for motorcycle riders was 26 times that of the number of deaths that occurred in car drivers and passengers.

In addition to knowing that riding a motorcycle can be dangerous, most people know that wearing a motorcycle helmet can reduce a rider’s risk of serious injuries and death in the event that an accident does occur. In fact, wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of serious head injury by 67 percent and reduce the risk of death in a motorcycle crash by about 37 percent. But knowing how to choose the right motorcycle helmet for you -- even if you know it is the right thing to do -- can be challenging. Here are some tips to help you along the way.

Look for Safety Standards

Do not be fooled into thinking that all motorcycles on the market meet safety standards. Unfortunately, many helmets out there have not been certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation or the Snell Memorial Foundation. If the helmet that you are looking at has not been certified by one of the two institutions/entities mentioned above, do not purchase it! A helmet that is not DOT or Snell certified means the helmet has not passed safety standards. Without meeting safety standards, a helmet will not protect your head in the event of an accident.

Choose a Full-face Helmet

You can improve your chances of walking away from an accident without major injuries by choosing a full-face helmet, also known as a helmet with a facial shield. A helmet that offers full face coverage will offer more protection in the event of a crash. When choosing your helmet, make sure you consider face shield quality; some offer less clarity, which can, in turn, negatively impact visibility. Make sure you choose a helmet with a face shield that has no distortions and consider a polarized face shield to help protect against sun glare.

Find the Right Fit

Perhaps the most important part of finding the right helmet is choosing one that fits your head just right. If your helmet does not fit correctly, a motorcycle crash may knock it off your head or may result in the helmet not protecting your skull as it is designed.

To choose a motorcycle helmet that fits well, start by measuring your head. Use a tape measure to measure the circumference of your head, starting approximately one inch above your eyebrows or one inch below your hairline. Then, choose a helmet size that corresponds to those measurements.

After you have measured your head and chosen an appropriately sized helmet, you still need to try your helmet on to check the fit. Make sure the helmet is snug, but not too tight; it should be comfortable on your head. The helmet’s pads should touch your head and cheeks. If they are not, the helmet is too big.

Finally, test your helmet by securing it on your head, and then moving your head back and forth. Give your head a little shake – did the helmet move around? If it did, you need to find a helmet that fits better. A helmet should never move around.

Learn More About Safety and Protect Yourself While Riding

Wearing a helmet while riding is one of the safest things that you can do. If you do not, you may put yourself at risk of preventable injuries. At Max Meyers Law, PLLC, we represent the victims of motorcycle accidents. If you have been injured, call us today for a free case consultation at 425-399-7000 or fill out our online contact form


Join The Conversation
Jocelyn McDonald 06/27/2018 12:49 PM
My brother just bought a motorcycle, and I told him he needed to get a helmet. Your article had some great tips for choosing a motorcycle helmet, and I liked how you said to consider a full face helmet with a facial shield for even more protection. Thanks for the helpful post; I'll share this with my brother so he chooses the helmet best for him.
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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.