For anyone riding a motorcycle or bicycle, one of the most effective ways to prevent a brain injury is to wear a helmet.  In California, wearing a motorcycle helmet is the law for all riders. Forty seven states have laws requiring certain or all motorcyclists and bicyclists to wear helmets. Three states do not require helmets for any riders.  Thankfully, helmet use has grown in recent years as legislation and safety education have increased and manufacturers produce lighter-weight helmets. Helmet use increased from 46 percent of motorcycle riders in 2005 to more than 67 percent in 2009, according to the NHTSA.

            If you ride a motorcycle or a bicycle, it is critical to protect yourself from accidents as well as comply with the law. Since we represent the number of motorcycle and bicycle riders that we do, we want to share some basic information about helmets and what to look for when you need to buy a helmet and how to care for the helmet you buy.

            Types of Helmets. Be sure to buy a helmet which is specifically designed for motorcycling. You will likely use a different helmet when you ride a bicycle or snow ski, but these do not provide adequate protection in case of a motorcycle accident.

            There are three types of helmets: full-face helmets; three-quarter, open-face helmets and half helmets which may be referred to as a “shorty” helmet.  A full-face helmet covers your entire face and provides the most protection. It has a moveable face shield which protects your eyes and face from debris in a motorcycle accident.

             A three-quarter, open-face helmet has many of the same features, minus the face and chin protection of a full-face helmet. If you use an open-face helmet, it is recommended you also use a snap-on face shield or a pair of safety goggles when you ride.

             The last type of helmet, a “shorty” half-helmet is not recommended by most safety organizations. It protects very little of your head and is the most likely to come off when you ride.

            Safety Ratings. Since the early 1980’s, all adult-sized helmets for highway use have been required to meet the Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. Make sure your helmet has a DOT sticker before you purchase. The Snell Memorial Foundation is another safety testing laboratory for motorcycle helmets, though this rating is voluntary for helmet manufacturers.

            Helmet Size. Most helmets are marked small, medium, large or extra large.  The fit of your helmet is critical so measure your head at the largest circumference and contact your manufacturer to ask what size that measurement fits.  The goal is to avoid buying a helmet which is too large and can fall off. Here are a few things to note. The cheek pads should touch your cheeks without pressing uncomfortably. On full-face helmets, press on the chin piece. The helmet or face shield should not touch your nose or chin. There should be no gaps between your temples and brow pads. If the helmet has a neck roll, it should not push the helmet away from the back of your neck.  Please refrain from purchasing your helmet on-line because sizes vary and your long term protection far outweighs saving a few dollars.        

            Replacing and Caring for Helmets. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for caring for your helmet. It is best to use mild soap, water and a soft cloth. Avoid any petroleum-based cleaning fluid, which can cause the helmet to decompose over time.

            Replace your helmet if the face shield is scratched as this will obstruct your view when riding. You should also replace your helmet if you’re involved in a motorcycle crash or if you notice any damage. Otherwise, many manufacturers recommend replacing your motorcycle helmet every two years.

            If you have been involved in a motorcycle or bicycle accident it is critical that you seek representation from a highly experienced Personal Injury Attorney.  One to call to the law Offices of Guenard & Bozarth at 888-809-1075 will get you started in the right direction or you may prefer to visit our web site at where we also have a free report about vehicle injury cases for you to read.