Alas, if only life were that simple.
Riders around the world have ideas, pro and con, about wearing protective helmets.
There is a certain physical and emotional sensation — like no other — that is engendered when not wearing a helmet while riding a motorbike. I certainly have done so in the past (albeit, rarely).
This writer respects any rider’s right to choose whether or not to strap on a helmet when he or she hits the road.
Having said that, and regardless of whether you choose to wear one or not, you should consider a few questions:
- Will rider skill prevent you from crashing?
- Will extensive riding experience prevent you from crashing?
- Will rider education prevent you from crashing?
Answers: Nix. Nay. No way.
Each of the above will reduce the chance of motorcycle mishaps, and in fact, may prevent quite a number of potential crashes. But there are other circumstances when even the most educated, most skilled, and most experienced rider will just not have enough time to react. For example, what would you do if a deer darted from out of nowhere into your handlebars? How about a vehicle that pulls in front of you at the last possible instant?
“Sure,” you can be especially watchful for deer and other wildlife at dawn and dusk. And “Yes,” you can be on “high alert” when you are approaching intersections. However, there is no guarantee that you will not be confronted with a circumstance that leaves you very little or no time to react.
Additionally, even very experienced riders might become inattentive at times…
In short, motorcycle accidents do happen — regardless of whether or not the rider is at fault.
So far, I have survived two potentially fatal mishaps that have resulted in destroyed motorcycles. Not only were helmets vital to my survival, but in the first case, as evidenced by the gash across the forward portion of my “full-face” helmet, that additional frontal protection prevented my face from getting sheared off by some very fast moving pavement.
Having ridden hundreds of thousands of miles, coast-to-coast, up and down, and all around North America has given me a lot of experience, but cannot prevent me from going down.
Are a person who likes statistics on helmet safety research? There’s plenty on the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s website (part of the Department of Transportation). Here’s one citation from the report referenced below:
“As a result of these improvements, motorcycle helmets are currently estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing rider fatalities, compared with the 1989 estimated effectiveness of 29 percent.”*
That means that with a modern motorcycle helmet, firmly attached to your head in an accident, you have over a third more likelihood of surviving the crash than if you did not wear a helmet.
So, do you need a helmet…?
Only YOU can decide.