Anyone on a motorcycle in California is required to wear a helmet. According to the law, every driver and passenger must wear a helmet that meets certain federal standards for safety. Further, no one is permitted to sell motorcycle helmets that are not up to standards.
These laws are in place to protect riders and passengers. Unfortunately, unsafe helmets do find their way onto store shelves and, even worse, onto people. This can occur when there is a defect with the helmet, or if the helmet is designed to be a novelty item and not safety gear.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a list of items to look for to discern if a helmet is safe or not. Those recommendations include the following:
- Ensure that chin straps are sturdy and have solid rivets.
- Check the weight of the helmet, as the ones that meet federal standards typically weigh about 3 pounds.
- There should not be any décor that extends more than two-tenths of an inch off the helmet surface.
- The inner liner of the helmet should be an inch thick and made from polystyrene foam.
The NHTSA advises that helmets that meet the standards will have a sticker with the letters "DOT" on it. There are additional safety requirements that non-profit organizations like the American National Standards Institute issue. These organizations may also place a label on the helmet, further ensuring their safety.
Helmets have been proven to keep riders safe. However, that safety can be compromised when inattentive or irresponsible motorists fail to give bikers the right-of-way or otherwise exercise caution. In California, bikers who are injured as the result of an incident with a negligent driver are able to hold the party responsible for damages.