April is helmet awareness month, part 2

by on April 19, 2009
in Commentary

April is Helmet Awareness month, so in the interest of making you more aware of your helmet I thought I would share some tips on fitting and maintaining this oft-debated piece of safety equipment.

Proper fit is vital to a helmet’s effectiveness. Your helmet should fit snug; when you shake your head from side to side, the helmet should move with you – not stay in one place while your head moves inside of it. (This is also a function of proper fastening.) Your helmet should not slide back over your head at an angle. When seated on your bike, your helmet should not obstruct your forward or lateral vision.

Prior damage renders a helmet useless. When your helmet hits the pavement, the energy of the impact is absorbed and dissipated through the… uhm, impact absorption material. This weakens the material. A helmet that has absorbed a significant impact, or whose shell is cracked in any way, should be replaced as soon as possible.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) also recommends replacing your helmet every few years regardless of whether it’s been damaged. They state that it’s possible the helmet’s protective qualities could deteriorate over time, and/or that helmet manufacturing technology will likely improve – making your next helmet lighter and more comfortable, and possibly less expensive, than an older one (though no less stupid-looking).

Ignore if you wish the MSF’s cleverly-hidden agenda of helmet mandates, but do read this very informative PDF file on helmet construction and fitment.