According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states that require all bikers to wear helmets see much lower fatalities among motorcycle riders. In 2020, Alabama saw 1,685 crashes involving motorcycles and only 72 fatalities, thanks to the state’s universal helmet law requiring motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear approved helmets when on the road.
For motorcyclists, wearing a helmet can be the difference between life and death. Learn how helmets protect bikers on the road and how motorcycle accident lawyers in Montgomery at The Vance Law Firm can help after a motorcycle accident.
While some states make helmets optional for bikers over a certain age, Alabama is one of 18 states with a universal helmet law. That means that you and your motorcycle passenger must wear a helmet when on your bike. However, wearing a helmet protects more than just your head: it also protects your ability to seek compensation after a motorcycle accident.
Alabama is an at-fault state for car accidents, meaning that the driver who caused the accident is responsible for covering the other person’s damages. The law also contains a contributory negligence doctrine that prevents you from recovering damages after a crash if you were even slightly responsible for the accident.
If you get into a crash while not wearing a helmet, the other driver can claim that your injuries would have been preventable if you had worn a helmet. This can prevent you from receiving any compensation for your injuries.
Unlike cars, motorcycles lack an external metal body and can easily be knocked off-balance. During a crash or emergency maneuver, you could be thrown from your bike and strike your head on a hard surface like the road. Without a helmet, the impact can easily cause a fatal brain injury.
Properly built motorcycle helmets protect your head from directly impacting the ground. The helmet absorbs the initial impact and cushions your head, softening the blow when you land. You may still suffer a head or brain injury, but it will be less severe than if you wore no helmet.
Wearing a motorcycle helmet isn’t a matter of just finding a helmet, putting it on, and tightening the chin strap. It’s crucial to find a safe, properly sized helmet and secure the chin strap properly.
All motorcycle helmets must meet safety and manufacturing standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). Helmets that meet these standards will have a DOT label on the back. However, verify its authenticity: some helmets are printed with fraudulent DOT labels.
Avoid helmets that are thin or have decorative gimmicks like spikes. These helmets do not adhere to DOT standards.
According to the NHTSA, the ideal way to find your helmet size is to use a cloth measuring tape to measure your head. Wrap the measuring tape around your head, from the space right above your eyebrows to the thickest area behind your head. With this measurement, you can find the corresponding helmet size for your measurement.
You should also choose the correct helmet for your head shape. Helmets come in intermediate oval (the most common), round oval, and long oval.
Some, but not all, helmets have cheek pads, and liners inside that can be swapped out to slightly alter your helmet’s fit. Bikers who wear glasses should also ensure their helmet can accommodate their glasses.
A properly fitting helmet should feel snug and remain in place. If it feels uncomfortably tight, places pressure on your forehead or the sides of your head, or is loose enough to shift when you shake your head, it will not protect you in a crash.
Your helmet has two chin straps: one long strap and one short strap with two metal D-rings. After putting your helmet on, take the long strap and slide it through both D-rings. Then, separate the D-rings with your fingers, cross the long strap over the top of the first ring, and slide the remaining portion of the strap back through the second ring.
Pull the strap tight enough that the helmet sits securely. You should be able to fit two fingers between your chin and the strap. If there’s space for three or more fingers, the helmet is too loose; if there’s only space for one finger or none, it’s too tight. Once the strap is fastened securely, snap or clip the rest of the long strap in place.
Do not wear a helmet that secures with plastic buckles. These are likely to snap in a crash, causing you to lose your helmet.
Motorcycle helmets are engineered to protect your head in a crash. Any alterations to your helmet (besides adjusting the cheek pads or liners on models that allow it) can negate its protective effect. If your helmet is uncomfortable, look for a new one instead of trying to alter it.
Even with all proper precautions, it’s still possible to be seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. A motorcycle accident lawyer at The Vance Law Firm can help you recover compensation if you or a loved one suffered serious injuries in a motorcycle collision.
The Vance Law Firm has supported many victims of motorcycle accidents in Alabama. We will build a strong case for you and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.