The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has proposed new rules, which will make it harder for riders to use “novelty” helmets in states that require DOT-certified helmets. According to this news report, the new proposal will change the agency’s current motorcycle helmet safety standard to require manufacturers to place a larger, tamper-proof DOT label on the back of certified helmets. Officials say these new labels will make it harder for vendors to remove the labels from the approved helmets and affix them on the unsafe novelty helmets.
DOT recently conducted tests on these novelty helmets and found that they failed to meet current safety standards. The novelty helmets do not have the energy absorbing capacity to offer protection against head injuries in a highway crash. Motorcycle fatalities have been steadily increasing over the last decade and the most common cause of motorcycle accident related deaths is severe head injury.
Motorcycle fatalities have more than doubled since 1997 increasing by 144 percent, DOT officials say. One in five riders, in states with helmet laws, wear these novelty helmets. Officials estimate that helmets saved 1,658 lives in 2006. During the same year, 4,837 motorcyclists were killed in the Untied States. More than 40 percent of those riders were not wearing any kind of helmet.
Helmets are to motorcyclists what seatbelts are to motorists. It is a proven fact that seatbelts save lives. And as the numbers demonstrate, helmets save lives. The number of motorcycle registrations has increased drastically with more baby boomers taking to motorcycles. Skyrocketing fuel costs have also led to more people opting for fuel-efficient motorcycles. It is extremely important that all these new riders receive the training they need and wear protective gear – most importantly a federally approved, safe helmet that could save their life in the case of a motorcycle accident.