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A Message to Motorcyclists: Why You Should Wear a Helmet

Feb 12th 2020

There are a lot of motorcyclists out there that don't like wearing helmets, and if you're reading this, we're just going to assume you fall into this category. Maybe you feel like they're uncomfortable or they obscure your vision. Maybe you believe that they're actually more dangerous in the event of an accident.

But, plain and simple, you're wrong. There's no easy way to say it. If you ride a motorcycle, you need a helmet, end of story.

A helmet will provide you with the extra protection you need while out on the road. It reduces your risk of death by 37% and lowers your risk of a head injury by 69%.

Just to throw a few more statistics at you, in 2010 41% of people who died in a motorcycle crash weren't wearing helmets. That same year, helmets saved 1,500 lives. This number could have been a lot higher if more people wore a helmet.

But if somehow this isn't enough to convince you, sit down and get comfortable. We're going to talk a little bit about why you should wear a helmet.

Motorcycle Crashes Kill

Injuries caused by road traffic incidents are the leading cause of death all around the world. Every year, 1.2 million people die because of them, and so many more are rendered disabled.

In parts of the world that are considered low-income countries, motorcycles and bicycles are becoming more and more common for transports. In these places, people who use two-wheeled vehicles make up the lions share of people killed or hurt while on the road.

When you ride a motorcycle, you're at a higher risk of an accident. You share your space with fast moving cars, trucks, and busses. You're also a lot less visible and you have absolutely no physical protection from the elements around you.

Head Injuries Are a Top Cause of Death and Disability

The most common injuries that lead to death during a motorcycle crash are head and neck injuries. In European countries, these injuries make up about 75% of all deaths from motorcycles and that number is expected to jump to 88% when we take a look at low- and middle-income countries.

There's also an incredible cost if you survive a head injury. Your family and community will have to help because you're much more likely to require specialized, long-term care. They're also just plain old expensive to treat.

The world's usage of motorcycles and bicycles is on the rise. As these statistics rise, so do the number of deaths and head injuries related to their accidents.

It Protects Your Head

Your brain lives in your head, you need to protect it. High-quality helmets are designed with technical expertise and they're based on a full understanding of what happens during a crash.

How Head Injuries Work

In order to fully understand and appreciate how important motorcycles are, you need to understand how the head works. Here's a short rundown.

Your brain obviously lives inside of your skull, but it sits on bones that create your skull's base.

Your spinal chord passes through a hole in the underside of the pain and there's tough tissue there. That tissue is called the dura, and this dura surrounds the brain entirely.

Between the dura and the brain is a bunch of cerebrospinal fluid, and this cushions your brain from a mechanical shock (like your head meeting the pavement at 65 miles per hour.)

Your brain sort of floats around in this fluid, but it can only move a tiny bit in every direction.

When you are involved in a motorcycle accident, there are two basic things that happen. There's direct contact and then there's the way your brain has to slow to a stop. And these both come with their own host of injuries.

When you wreck, you're usually thrown from the bike. If you hit something, your body stops. But your brain keeps going because it's floating around in there with its own mass. It stops moving when it hits your skull.

Once that happens, it's going to rebound and hit the other side of your skull too. You can suffer a minor head injury, like a concussion, but this can also kill you.

There are two more divisions of head injuries here: open and closed.

Open head injuries are when your skull fractures or something penetrates it. These might result in brain injuries, but that happens less often than with closed injuries.

With closed injuries, nothing penetrates the skull. Instead, your brain is jarred out of place and it can result in your brain bruising, swelling, and tearing. These injuries can range from concussions to intracranial hemorrhages.

If you don't wear a helmet, you put yourself at a much higher risk of both kinds of head injury. They give you a few additional layers between your noggin and the pavement.

How a Helmet Works

Helmets attempt to lower your risk of head injuries by lowering the impact of something colliding with your head.

They reduce the deceleration of the skill and the movement of your brain inside of it. There is soft material in your helmet that will absorb some of that impact, allowing your head to stop more slowly and lowering how hard your brain will connect with it.

IT also divides the force of impact over the whole surface area of your head so that there's not a concentrated area dealing with the impact. Thin about slamming your palm down on a table. Not so bad, right? Now put a nail down and try it again.

Now you see why it's important to spread out the force evenly.

Parts of a Helmet

Helmets also stop your head from directly connecting with the objects around you. There are four basic parts of a helmet that allow all of this to happen.

The Shell

The shell of your helmet is a hard outer surface. It works to spread out the force of the impact. It's tough, but it's also supposed to compress when something hard hits it.

It gives you protection against small, sharp objects, too.

Impact-Absorbing Liner

Many people think that the soft padding inside of their helmet is the stuff that's going to absorb the impact of a crash, but this isn't true. There's actually a dense layer underneath the padding, usually made from styrofoam, that absorbs the shock from a collision.

Comfort Padding

This is the soft stuff that touches your head and face. It helps your helmet fit and keeps you comfortable.

The Chin Strap

The chin strap is especially important because it keeps your helmet on in the event of a crash. What good is a helmet if it flies off when you need it the most?

Kinds of Helmets

There are four common types of helmets. They're full-faced, open-faced, half-head, and tropical use.

Full-Faced Helmets

Full-faced helmets give you facial protection as well as protection from impact. They're more likely to help you avoid seriously damaging your face. Their chin bar extends outwards and gives you a vision port to let you see better.

Open-Faced Helmets

These helmets provide the standard protection against impact as we talked about before. They only give you limited protection when compared to the full-faced helmet, though.

Half-Head Helmets

These helmets will give you a hard outer shell and an inner liner, but they don't give you any protection for your chin or jaw and they almost never have visors.

Lower Hospital Costs

Researchers studied the how using a helmet impacts patient outcomes and how much it costs to hospitalize them. 19% of the 216 patients that they studied didn't use helmets.

They discovered that, on average, the hospital costs for patients who did wear helmets tended to be 20% lower than those who didn't wear them. And patients who were treated additionally after they left the trauma unit actually paid twice the amount if they didn't wear helmets.

These results also showed that the people without helmets tended to be younger, dealt with more head injuries, and were much more severely injured than those who did.

If you don't wear a helmet, you're adding to the financial burden that motorcycle-related injuries cause.

Why Should You Wear a Helmet?

So there you have it. By now, "why should you wear a helmet" shouldn't even be a question in your mind. You are putting yourself at risk of death or injury in an accident, period. And before you argue that being on a motorcycle already puts you at that risk, remember that you have a much higher chance of death without one.

You probably have family and friends who love you. Don't increase that risk.

For more information on motorcycle safety, or to purchase a lid before you hit the road, visit us today.