McCoy & Hiestand Attorneys at Law
motorcycle helmet

Motorcycles can be a fun mode of transportation but offer no protection for their motorists, presenting the great need to wear a helmet. Helmets are about 67% effective in preventing brain injuries and about 37% effective in preventing motorcycle deaths.

Just picking up a helmet and wearing it won’t ensure safety, but choosing the right helmet will decrease the margin for injury. Choosing the right helmet starts with determining which style is best suited for you.

Types of Motorcycle Helmets

  • Full Face
    • Aerodynamic
    • Offers full range of protection
  • Modular (Flip-up)
    • Good air flow with option to protect your face from debris
  • Dual-sport
    • Extended chin bar and visor
    • Requires goggles
  • Off-road
    • Extended chin bar and visor
    • Requires goggles
  • Hi-viz
    • Offers an additional level of safety
    • Available as an option on many helmet styles
  • Half and open face
    • Provides minimal protection

Proper Fit

After you have decided on a style, it’s important to determine your head’s shape and size. First, take a mirror and look down on your head from the top. Is your head round, long oval, or intermediate oval? Intermediate oval is the most common shape, but the majority of helmets come in each variety.

Next, you should measure the size of your head. Using a cloth tape, start just above your eyebrows and circle it around the thickest point in the rear of your head. This measurement should be cross referenced with a helmet size chart. Remember, a correctly sized helmet should be snug, providing even pressure around your head without any uncomfortable pressure points. Your helmet should not wiggle or move when you shake your head!

Some helmet manufacturers provide replaceable pads and liners to make more precise adjustments to the fit of your helmet.


Lastly, make sure your helmet has the DOT symbol on the outside back; this means it meets our Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218. All motorcycle helmets sold in the United States are required to meet the federal standard and have the DOT label but unfortunately, there are retailers who sell “novelty” helmets that do not meet these standards. Novelty helmets will not protect you in a crash so be diligent in spotting a fake.

Be suspicious if:

  • The helmet is less than 1 inch thick or lacks a stiff foam inner liner
  • The rivets or buckles do not look solid
  • It weighs less than 3 pounds
  • It’s advertised as extremely thin or light weight
  • There are rigid spikes or other decorations extended further than two-tenths of an inch from the surface of the helmet


Always wearing a helmet while riding is a simple way to decrease your risk of catastrophic injury and even death. Along with wearing the proper protective gear you should also be sure to always follow the rules of the road and be as visible as possible.

© 2014
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