Would Wearing A Motorcycle Helmet Really Save Your Life?

Motorcycles are a hazardous form of motor vehicle transport. Bikes are less visible, less stable then cars and usually have high performance capabilities. If a motorcyclists crashes they don’t have the protective layer that enclosed vehicles do. Head injuries are common in bike accidents and are unfortunately one of the main causes of fatality, We Buy Any Bike ask would wearing a helmet really save your life in a bad accident?

Wearing a motorcycle helmet is second nature to some, the helmet is as important as the bike keys. In England, you must wear a helmet that meets British safely standard while riding a motorbike or moped on the road.

Helmets in the UK must meet the following standards:

  • British Standard BS 6658:1985 and carry the BSI Kitemark
  • UNECE Regulation 22.05
  • a European Economic Area member standard offering at least the same safety and protection as BS 6658:1985, and carry a mark equivalent to the BSI Kitemark 

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Where did it all begin?

Motorcycle helmets are a matter of fact these days in England, it’s just a given that if you go on a motorbike you’ll obviously want to protect yourself. However, once upon a time the UK law did not state that riders had to wear helmets, it was actually pretty uncommon to see a bikers with anything on their heads.

About forty four years ago the ‘Motor Cycles Wearing of Helmets Regulations 1973 (S.I., 1973, No. 180) dated 7th February 1973’ was enacted and came into operation on the 1st June 73.  This was debated in the House Of Commons with members sharing their views and ideas regarding the pros and cons.

Concerns about head injuries were growing long before the passing of this law, which can be shown around the time of World War II. A neurosurgeon called Dr Hugh Cairns advised that all British Service Dispatch riders should wear helmet, and that this should be made mandatory. This was accepted by the British Army and helmets became compulsory for all army motorcyclists from November 1941.  So maybe they were onto something?!

What do the statistics say?

In the USA, there are still some states that do not enforce helmet wearing. Some find this confusing as the National Center for Statistics and Analysis uncovered and produced some hair rising facts. They confirmed that in the year of 2015, helmets saved 1,772 motorcyclists.

The NHTSA estimated that helmets were 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to riders. They broke this down further by saying for every 100 motorbike riders killed in a crash while having a bare head, 37% of them would have lived had they put a helmet on.

There was an interesting study done in 2016 by Inj Epidemiol called ‘Motorcycle helmet effectiveness in reducing head, face and brain injuries by state and helmet law’. The study investigated data from states in the USA, some with universal law requiring all bikers to wear helmets while riding and some with only partial law requiring only subset of bikers to wear a helmet. Crash record running for 2005 – 2008, linked to the emergency department and inpatient discharges were read through and documented.

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The results looked like this:

  • Median charges were higher in partial law states $31,506 vs. $25,949
  • Injuries to the head and face, including traumatic brain injuries, were more common in partial law states.
  • Medical charges and rates of head, facial, and brain injuries among motorcyclists were lower in universal law states.
  • Helmets were effective in reducing injury in both helmet law settings

Dr Frieden, former Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Director sums up the above results in this statement:

 “Our role is to identify ways to prevent injury and death and rigorously check what works and what does not work. For motorcycle safety, the research shows that universal helmet laws are the most effective way to reduce the number of deaths and traumatic brain injuries that result from crashes.” Dr Frieden

It’s not just the USA that don’t take motorcycle helmets that seriously, in developing countries motorbikes are one of the most important means of transport. It’s in these countries that there are extremely high rates of injury, the lack of helmet wearing is clearly shown in the head injuries statistics:

“Motorcycle crashes account for 81% of head injuries in Vietnam and 50% of head injuries in Malaysia and Taiwan.” George Davey Smith, International Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 40

That all seems quite straight forward, it seems like if a crash were to happen, you basically stand a better chance when you wear a helmet. So what could possibly be the reason for people not wearing helmets in the first place?

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Why do people still not wear helmets?

After searching online and reading through different forums, these seem to be the top 6 responses:

  1. They make you look awful
  2. It blocks your vision and hearing
  3. It give you helmet hair
  4. Cars give you less room when you wear a helmet
  5. It doesn’t protect you at high skidding speeds
  6. You don’t feel as free

We were quite shocked at these statements. Do any of these points sound like they have good reasoning behind them? I guess if you live somewhere helmets are not a legal requirement, the choice is yours.

The way we see it, wearing a helmet won’t guarantee your life in a crash. However it will make your chances better, a lot better according to the stats. Is it really that different then putting a seat belt on when you get in a car? The name of the game is prevention, wearing a helmet is bettering your chances in a worst case scenario. So is it really worth taking the risk of not wearing one?

Let us know what you think in the comments..

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2 thoughts on “Would Wearing A Motorcycle Helmet Really Save Your Life?”

  1. I`ve been riding sincve 1978 and it aint no big deal to wear one any protection is better than none in my opinion especially with the amount of trafic on the road these days and the lack of the average car driver to still not think about bike riders at junctions and when overtaking even though most have loud pipes.

    1. Definitely, I think if you were unfortunate enough to be in an accident you’d want a helmet on. The stats show that it helps your chances and it seems like common sense to want to protect yourself!
      Thanks for reading

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