On May 20, 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a new initiative to crack down on the use of novelty motorcycle helmets. The initiative created federal provisions to facilitate state efforts enforcing motorcycle helmet laws.

The NHTSA has stated that these helmets do not meet federal safety standards. According to an agency study, 56 percent of motorcyclists injured in crashes while wearing a novelty helmet suffered serious head injuries, compared to the 19 percent of riders who were wearing a DOT-approved helmet .

What are novelty helmets and why are they unsafe?

The 2006 National Occupant Protection Use Survey found 14 percent of helmets in use that year were noncompliant with federal standards.

On May 14, 2007, the NHTSA’s Office of Vehicle Safety (OVSC) released the results of a research study on the effectiveness of novelty motorcycle helmets. The OVSC defines a novelty helmet as, “a helmet similar in form to a motorcycle helmet designed for on-road use, but is not certified by a manufacturer to meet FMVSS No. 218.”

FMVSS No. 218 details the minimum requirements for a motorcycle helmet.

The OVSC study looked to determine the effectiveness of seven novelty helmets at preventing head injury. The researchers used the same equipment and performance parameters used to test for DOT-compliance. The study found the following:

  • Impact attenuation (reduction): The acceleration exceeded 400g, the maximum allowed by DOT-compliant helmets.
  • Penetration: The striker easily penetrated the helmets.
  • Helmet retention system: The chin straps did not remain connected or stretched more than one inch during a typical crash load.

All seven helmets failed the impact attenuation and penetration tests, and only one passed the helmet retention system. The study concluded there is a 100 percent chance of brain injuries and skull fracture with the use of these helmets as protection in a crash.

Are novelty motorcycle helmets legal?

While the sale and use of novelty helmets is not illegal, they are not legal protection under Ohio’s motorcycle helmet law. If you are wearing a non-compliant helmet when an officer stops you, you may face misdemeanor charges.

The law also states that courts cannot use a violation of the helmet law in the trial of a civil action. Therefore, helmet use is not admissible as evidence in a motorcycle injury claim .

Avoid Potential Health and Legal Consequences; Wear a DOT-Approved Helmet

There is no reason you should make a helmet’s appearance more important than its safety rating. Regardless of your helmet use, if you suffer an injury in a motorcycle accident, you have the right to seek damages.

The law firm of Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault helps Ohio residents seek compensation for injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents. Contact our office today to set up a free consultation: 419-843-6663.

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