There’s an old saying that “Four wheels move the body. Two wheels move the soul.” Whether you’re already a biker or contemplating about becoming one, one thing that is for certain is that most people are drawn to the danger, or ambiance of owning a bike. However, people who drive motorcycles know that the danger can become all too real and the importance of safety is not something to be ignored. In 2016, Texas motorcycle crashes killed 463 motorcyclists, half of which were not wearing a helmet. The Texas Department of Transportation has created a statewide campaign in an attempt to raise awareness in light of the data. Their campaign entitled ‘Share the Road’ urges motorists to look twice at intersections and when changing lanes, the two most common places where motorcycle collisions occur.
Most states have particular laws in place that call for motorcyclists to wear satisfactory helmets. Texas specifically requires for all motorcyclists to wear a helmet along with any passengers. However, apparently, there are steps you can take to bypass this demand. If you are over the age of 21 you can legally drive without a helmet as long as you are covered by a health insurance plan providing at least $10,000 in medical benefits for injuries sustained while operating the motorcycle or have successfully completed a motorcycle operator safety and training course. Follow this link for information regarding stipulations and available training courses.
As for the authorities, police officers are not allowed to stop a motorcycle operator or passenger without a helmet on just to see if they have the above-mentioned paperwork. If pulled over for another reason or traffic violation then a cop is permitted to ask for proof. Whether you’re legally permitted to wear one or not, wearing a helmet is something every motorcyclist SHOULD do.
Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing motorcycle deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injury. Only 19 states and the District of Columbia mandate helmet use by all riders. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided a list on what to keep an eye out for when searching for a helmet.
- Thick inner liner – Helmets meeting the minimum Federal safety standards typically have a firm, polystyrene foam inner liner that is about one-inch thick. If a helmet has soft foam padding or a bare plastic shell with no padding at all, it is not a safe helmet.
- Sturdy chin strap and rivets – A helmet should have sturdy chin straps with solid rivets to keep the helmet securely in place on the wearer’s head.
- Weight of helmet – Helmets meeting the Federal safety standards usually weigh about three pounds. Lightweight helmets are generally unsafe.
- Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker – Helmets meeting the Federal safety standards are required to have a sticker on the outside back of the helmet with the letters “DOT,” certifying that the helmet meets standards outlined in FMVSS 218.
- Snell or American National Standards Institute sticker – A helmet meeting safety requirements may be additionally certified by private, non-profit organizations like Snell or American National Standards Institute, in which case it would have a sticker indicating certification.
- Manufacturer’s label – FMVSS 218 requires helmet manufacturers to place a label inside the helmet stating the manufacturer’s name, model, size, month and year the helmet was made, construction materials and owner’s information. If a helmet does not have this label, it should be considered unsafe.
All in all, safety is the cheapest and most effective insurance policy out there so get a helmet and protect yourself.