How Effective Are Motorcycle Helmets at Preventing Head Injuries?

Motorcycles are an undeniably dangerous mode of transportation.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 84,000 motorcyclists were injured and another 5,014 were killed in traffic accidents throughout the United States in 2019 alone. A publication issued by the Administration suggests that motorcycle helmets saved upwards of 1,870 lives.  Some studies suggest that if every state had laws requiring the use of motorcycle helmets, an estimated 750 additional lives could have been saved.  Since 1997, which saw 2,116 fatal motorcycle accidents, the number of deaths involving motorcycles has risen by more than 50%, and head trauma is listed as the leading cause of all motorcycle deaths regardless of the cause of the accident. One of the most severe injuries sustained by motorcyclists not wearing a helmet is a traumatic brain injury, also known as a “TBI.”  TBIs often leave surviving victims with long-term damage and permanent disabilities.  If you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident, contact the experienced Virginia Beach motorcycle accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp to schedule a free consultation. 

Do Motorcycle Helmets Reduce the Risk of Head Trauma?

Different motorcycle helmets on the market offer different amounts of protection during an accident, but no helmet can protect riders against every potential impact. This is especially true of novelty and ornamental helmets where the impact of a collision is likely to exert more force than these helmets are designed to withstand.   

Most motorcycle helmets are designed to prevent skull fractures in the event of a crash. However, there are only a few models that are capable of absorbing enough impact to reduce the risk of brain damage.  The violent force generated during a traffic collision can cause your brain to twist, referred to as angular or rotational acceleration, or to make contact with the inside of your skull resulting in concussions and other traumatic brain injuries.  So while certain motorcycle helmets may reduce the risk of head trauma, no helmet can completely eliminate the risk of head trauma during a motorcycle accident.  

How Effective Are Motorcycle Helmets?

During an accident, motorcyclists are far more vulnerable than occupants of other types of vehicles.  Passenger vehicles are outfitted with a metal frame that protects those inside, as do the airbags which most are equipped with. Motorcycles, however, offer virtually no protection to their riders, and should an accident happen, motorcyclists are in great danger of striking their heads against another vehicle, a fixed object, or asphalt. 

Fortunately, motorcycle helmets are extremely effective for the purposes for which they were created. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, helmets are 37% effective in preventing fatal head injuries during accidents and 67% effective in preventing injuries to the brain. Wearing a motorcycle helmet has therefore been found to reduce motorcycle fatalities and injuries consistently.  Research has also shown that:

  • Motorcyclists who wear helmets have a lower overall fatality rate than those who do not.  
  • Motorcyclists who wear helmets have significantly reduced odds of sustaining a fatal brain injury during an accident than those who do not 
  • Motorcyclists who wear helmets also experience a reduction in the severity of non-fatal head trauma. They have been shown to lower the odds of head injuries by 59% and deaths by 42%

Does Virginia Have a Helmet Law?

Yes, it does. Pursuant to Virginia Code § 46.2-910, “[e]very person operating a motorcycle or autocycle shall wear a face shield, safety glasses or goggles, or have his motorcycle or autocycle equipped with safety glass or a windshield at all times while operating the vehicle, and operators and any passengers thereon shall wear protective helmets.”  Furthermore, helmets are required to meet or exceed the specifications and standards set forth by the United States Department of Transportation, the American National Standards Institute, or the Snell Memorial Foundation.  While you should always wear a helmet, if another driver caused your motorcycle accident, you may still be able to pursue financial compensation even if you were not wearing a helmet.  That is why it is important to contact the experienced Virginia Beach motorcycle accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp if you or a loved one was injured in a motorcycle accident through no fault of your own.  

Talk to a Virginia Beach Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today

Our state’s motorcycle helmet laws seek to protect against some of the most catastrophic motorcycle accident injuries.  By requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets that adhere to certain safety criteria, helmet laws can lower the risk of skull fractures, brain bleeds, traumatic brain injuries, and other life-changing injuries.  

The experienced Virginia Beach motorcycle accident lawyers at Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp have been helping victims of motorcycle accidents achieve positive outcomes to their injury claims since 1985. One example of this is the $1.5 million settlement we won for a husband and wife who were both severely injured when their motorcycle was struck head-on by an on-duty sheriff’s deputy. To schedule a free consultation, call (833) 997-1774 or fill out the quick contact form on our website. To better serve our clients, we have offices in Virginia Beach, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Hampton, Suffolk, and Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.