According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and numerous other medical, scientific, and safety institutions, wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle can be a life-saving decision. In fact, when it comes to reducing deaths in accidents, motorcycle helmets are 37% to 41% effective. They also reduce head injury risks by almost 70% in non-fatal motorcycle accidents.
Getting those benefits requires wearing a motorcycle helmet that’s in good condition, though. Knowing when to replace your motorcycle helmet can help you protect your brain and head as you enjoy your ride.
Keep reading to find out how often you should replace your motorcycle helmet and learn more about how a personal injury attorney can help if you’re hurt in a motorcycle accident.
How Long Do Motorcycle Helmets Last?
Consumer Reports notes that, at minimum, you should replace your motorcycle helmet after five years of wearing it. Alternatively, you can check the production date on your helmet and replace it within seven years of that date. Manufacturer’s recommendations do trump these general recommendations, though, so ensure you know what the brand recommendations are for your helmet.
Motorcycle helmets lose their ability to provide protection over time due to normal wear and tear. Exposure to UV sunlight, extreme temperatures, or even the constant bumps and tumbles in the trunk of a car can cause a helmet to lose some of its protective infrastructure. Even just wearing a helmet can cause it to slowly break down as contact with your head, sweat, or hair products can lead to a slow disintegration of the inner material.
If you wear your helmet an above-average amount of time on a regular basis, you may want to consider replacing it sooner than every five years for these reasons.
Signs It May Be Time to Replace Your Motorcycle Helmet
Reaching a specific period of time, such as five years, isn’t the only reason to replace your motorcycle helmet. Some other reasons to invest in new protective gear are summarized below.
The Helmet Was Involved in an Accident
If you’re in an accident with your motorcycle helmet on, it may have sustained damage that can make it less functional in a future crash.
This is especially true if the exterior of the helmet shows any signs of dents or cracks—even if you can pop the dent out and the helmet looks almost as good as new. If the exterior of your helmet is pushed in, it also pushes in or damages the interior elements of the helmet. Those elements don’t necessarily pop back into place the same way, and internal damage means less protection for your head.
The Helmet Shows Signs of Damage or Wear and Tear
Every helmet wears a bit differently, and every person uses their helmet in a different way. Because of this, you can’t always rely on a one-size-fits-all rule for when to replace your helmet. Instead, check your helmet regularly for signs of wear and tear that may mean it isn’t providing maximum protection.
On the exterior, look for signs the surface is no longer intact. That might mean cracks or dents, no matter how small. Brittleness that’s causing pieces on the edge to wear away may also be a concern.
Check the inside of the helmet too. Look for any signs that the interior foam and lining are wearing, including tears, dents, chips, or pieces flaking away.
Your Helmet Doesn’t Fit Well or Securely Anymore
Over time, the internal padding in your helmet may wear down or become compressed. This can lead to a helmet that fits looser than it should and doesn’t provide the appropriate level of protection on the road.
Check for a proper fit by shaking your head with your helmet on. It shouldn’t slide back and forth or up or down on your head. If it does, it may be time to purchase a new helmet.
You should also check your straps and locks. Over time, straps can become stretched, and strap locks can become corroded or otherwise damaged. Ensure your helmet fastens snuggly into place or replace it with a new one that does.
Help Ensure Your Motorcycle Helmet Lasts Longer
Good motorcycle helmets aren’t cheap, so it’s understandable that you may want to get the most out of your investment in safety.
Use the tips below to help reduce damage and wear and tear during the useful life of your helmet:
- Avoid dropping or throwing your helmet.
- Don’t store it somewhere that might lead to it tumbling around and getting hit by other objects.
- Keep stickers and other decorations off your helmet unless they’re designed specifically as motorcycle helmet accessories.
- When it gets dirty, clean it with water or a mild water-and-soap mixture.
- Store your helmet in a cloth bag in a temperature-controlled space.
- Avoid storing gloves or other items inside the helmet.
Working With a Personal Injury Lawyer if You’re Injured in a Motorcycle Accident
Certainly, no one plans to get into a motorcycle accident. However, you wear a helmet and other safety gear as a precaution. If you do end up hurt in an accident, a personal injury lawyer experienced with motorcycle injury claims can help. Contact the team at Jiles Law, P.A. to talk about your case and how we can help.