In this troubled economy of 2009, a vast majority of Americans are looking for ways to save money. We are clipping more coupons, we are shopping for cheaper gas, we are shopping at second-hand stores, and many of us are turning to cheaper modes of transportation. Americans are giving up their cars and choosing instead to ride scooters and motorcycles both to and from work and around town on errands. As the number of motorcyclists increases on America's roads, so does the opportunity for motorcycle accidents. And as more and more states are repealing their laws requiring motorcycle helmets, the number of motorcyclists on the road without a helmet is also on the rise.
When we ride without a helmet, we are risking our lives to save a few bucks on fuel. We are risking severe injury and even death to look cool on our motorcycles. And it's not just the thrill-seeking crotch rockets, it's your neighbor or his wife who is looking for a cheaper method of transportation. Motorcycle fatalities have increased every year since 1996, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And one of the biggest factors in motorcycle fatalities is the refusal of riders to wear a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet.
The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety report that, "Motorcycle helmets have been shown to save the lives of motorcyclists and prevent serious brain injuries." Why wait until your state requires a helmet to wear one? Why not choose instead to ride safely and ride smart?! The NHTSA keeps statistics on how helmets prevent injury and death. And they keep statistics on fatalities as well. Wouldn't you rather be in the first group than the second?
Young people tend to think (and I know, because I was one not too long ago) that "nothing is going to happen to me." They tend to think that helmets are for the older generation. And they care all too much about how they look on the motorcycle instead of how they'll feel if they ever lay the motorcycle down.
According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, helmets "can help to protect your brain, your face and even your life." The research and development that goes into an approved helmet has resulted in a very specialized and sophisticated piece of life-saving gear. The tough outer shell is meant to compress upon impact, thereby lessening the force that comes into contact with your head. DOT-approved helmets also have an impact-absorbing inner liner designed to absorb the shock as your head hits the inside of the helmet. Helmets are actually designed to break upon impact, as another way of absorbing the shock otherwise meant for your head.
On top of the impact-absorbing liner is what the industry refers to as comfort padding. It's the layer next to your head providing comfort and fit. And the last part of the helmet, which is equally as critical as the others, is the chin strap or the retention system. It must be securely strapped to give you optimal protection.
Head injuries account for most motorcycle fatalities. But you don't have to be one of the statistics - instead, choose to be one of the survivors. For a relatively small investment, compared to the cost of medical and hospital bills, you can invest in a good (DOT-approved) helmet that is both cool and protective. Ride safe, ride smart, ride responsibly.