Austin Personal Injury Blog

NHTSA and DOT Work to Curb the Use of Unapproved Helmets

Posted By Stephen Stewart || 29-May-2015

There are a number of unsafe motorcycle helmets on the market and the Department of Transportation, or DOT, has recently taken special action seeking to prevent them from getting into the hands of motorcyclists. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, is also on board with the movement. A little less than two weeks ago, the NHTSA announced that it would be helping in the effort to keep motorcyclists safe from dangerous novelty helmets. A "novelty motorcycle helmet" is any kind of poorly constructed helmet that fails to meet DOT regulations.

These helmets are often inappropriately sold to motorcyclists as if they were safe for road use, when in fact they are not. According to the U.S. Transportation Secretary, the number of motorcyclist deaths is higher than it should be, and in 2013 alone, the country saw 4,668 motorcycle-related deaths.

The NHTSA estimates that the DOT's safety regulations save over 1,000 years annually, but so-called novelty helmets do not fit into those regulations. Among motorcyclists who were injured in wrecks, statistics show that 56 of the ones who wore a novelty helmet suffered a serious head injury -- whereas just 19 percent with a certified helmet had such head injuries.

The benefit of wearing an appropriate helmet ad other safety equipment while riding a motorcycle is clear, and the smart motorcycle riders make an effort to ensure that their helmets are approved for use. From the perspective of making a personal injury claim, a motorcyclist without an approved helmet (or without a helmet at all) who is injured in a Texas automobile crash due to another driver's negligence may still be able to pursue personal injury claims relating to his or her injuries. However, having an unapproved helmet or no helmet at all could serve to reduce the negligent driver's liability in the crash.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "DOT takes action to address unsafe motorcycle helmets," Gordon Trowbridge, May. 20, 2015

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