The Importance of Wearing a Motorcycle Helmet in New Jersey
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There is a growing trend across the country of states repealing their motorcycle helmet laws. It is understandable that motorcyclists want to feel free and believe that wearing a helmet should be an option and not a mandate, but statistics overwhelmingly show that wearing a helmet will greatly increase a motorcyclist's chances of survival in the event of a crash.
New Jersey Helmet Law
Under current law, all riders and passengers in New Jersey must wear a helmet. The state's helmet law states: "No person shall operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a securely fitted protective helmet of a size proper for that person and of a type approved by the federal DOT. Such a helmet must be equipped with either a neck or chin strap and be reflectorized on both sides." This law saves lives each year by encouraging riders to protect their head and brain in case they are ever involved in an accident.
Types of Motorcycle Helmets
There are four main types of motorcycle helmets available, with plenty of variations between different models and manufacturers:
- Full-face helmets: Full-face helmets offer the most protection. They cover the entire head from the base of the skull at the back up to just above the eyes and include a front section across the chin. They also include a visor in the front, which provides protection to the face.
- Open-face helmets: Open-face or three-quarter helmets provide good protection to the top and back of the head, but much less to the front. These helmets go fully around the back, but do not cover the chin. They may have visors that are often removable, but provide little real protection to the face in case of an accident.
- Modular helmets: Somewhere between full-face and open-face helmets are those with a modular design, sometimes called "flip-up" helmets. These are helmets with a general design similar to a half helmet, but they have a large chin bar and visor that can be lifted up to reveal the face or lowered to offer protection similar to a full helmet.
- Half helmets: Offering the least amount of protection, half helmets only cover the top of the head and do not protect the base of the skull or the face. These helmets are barely sufficient to offer protection and meet only minimal legal standards.
Motorcycle Helmet Accessories
There are far too many accessories available to list completely here, and quite a few of them offer additional safety measures and practical benefits while on a motorcycle. These include:
- Bluetooth headsets: Bluetooth headsets designed to fit inside a motorcycle helmet can make communication simple and hands-free. This is a great way to communicate with friends on other bikes.
- Helmet lighting: Not only does helmet lighting look impressive, but it can help make you much more visible while riding at night. Consider green lighting since it is the most visible color for the human eye to see at a distance.
- Face shields and masks: Face shields can help protect your face in case of an accident and protect you from wind, insects, and dirt.
- Earbuds: Earbuds designed to fit easily into a motorcycle helmet let you listen to music while you ride. Be careful not to turn the volume up too loud, however, since you need to hear the traffic and emergency vehicles around you.
- Helmet cameras: Cameras let you create videos hands-free and can be beneficial in case of an accident. You can document other drivers being reckless around you and create videos to share online.
What to Look for When Buying a Motorcycle Helmet
While details like paint job and style come down to personal preference, a few key things to keep in mind when looking at any helmet include:
- Certification: If you consider absolutely nothing else, you should at least look at what kind of certification the helmet has. At the bare minimum, you need to pick a helmet that is certified by the U.S. Department of Transportation. This is necessary to meet legal minimum requirements in New Jersey. Additional certification can make a helmet even safer, such as Snell certification.
- Fit and feel: Comfort is also important since you are going to be wearing the helmet a lot. You don't want it to pinch your temples or move around too much. Your helmet should be snug around your forehead and skull, but not give you a headache. You should be able to take any helmet for a brief test ride before you purchase it from a local shop. This lets you feel how it sits while you are riding, with wind and other factors in play.
- Components: Look at the materials the helmet is actually made from. Pick a helmet made from high-quality components such as microfiber and leather, rather than cheap plastic.
Common Injuries Worsened by the Lack of a Helmet
Head injuries in general are much more likely to be serious or fatal without a helmet. Without one, you can suffer from traumatic brain damage leading to cognitive impairments, sensory loss like blindness, and life-long changes in personality or lifestyle.
Open and half helmets leave the face exposed, and in an accident, you can suffer serious damage to these unprotected areas. Injuries to the eyes, nose, and ears are not unusual, neither are dental injuries. Serious facial disfigurement is another danger, which can cause years of pain and require extensive surgery to try to repair.
Safe Riding Tips
Many motorcycle crashes occur because drivers simply don't see motorcycles until it is too late. It is important to ride defensively and to assume that motorists do not see you. You can even make yourself more visible by avoiding blind spots and by wearing bright and reflective gear. It is also important to not tailgate, to avoid sudden braking or turning and to take a safety and skills class.
Protecting Your Rights
The experienced New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyers at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C. have years of experience getting motorcyclists fair compensation for their losses. Motorcyclists often suffer catastrophic injuries that could have a long-term impact on their lives and the lives of their family members. We provide free consultations at (609) 240-0040 to anyone who has been injured in a New Jersey motorcycle collision caused by someone else's negligence.
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