How Effective are Motorcycle Helmets in an Accident?

March 28, 2024
Motorcycle Accidents

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that motorcycle helmets are 67% effective in preventing head or brain injuries and 29% effective in preventing fatal injuries among motorcycle riders involved in traffic crashes. In 2000, motorcycle helmets saved 631 lives in the U.S. and could have saved an additional 382 lives if unhelmeted motorcyclists had worn a helmet.

Lethal head injury is a huge concern for the crash-involved motorcyclist because of its devastating and life-threatening nature. However, wearing a helmet can protect a motorcyclist from these injuries. Wearing a motorcycle helmet can reduce significantly the frequency and severity of head and brain injuries. A typical motorcycle helmet liner and shell offers energy absorption and load distribution upon impact. So wearing a helmet significantly reduces the head injury impact.

Observable helmet damage isn’t a sign of head injury. In different cases with different motorcycle accident circumstances, it’s possible for a helmet to be damaged significantly and no head injury will be present because the helmet offered adequate protection. 

Even after adhering to all the safety rules motorcyclists still are at risk on the roadways. Motorcycle crashes pose a higher danger to motorbike riders compared to car passengers. If you or your loved one sustained injuries in a motorcycle crash contact the experienced Decatur motorcycle accident attorneys at Marks Law Group to discuss your legal rights and whether you should move forward with filing a personal injury claim to recover financial compensation from the at-fault party.

What are the Helmet Laws in Georgia?

Universal helmet laws are in force in five states: Georgia, Nebraska, New York, Maryland, and Missouri.

Partial helmet laws are in force in six states, including Connecticut, Minnesota, Kentucky, South Carolina, Ohio, and Utah. Helmet use laws vary with age restrictions for unhelmeted riders ranging from 17 to 20 years old.

Georgia passed a mandatory motorcycle helmet law in 1969. Unlike other states that require motorcyclists under a certain age to wear helmets, Georgia requires all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, including motorcycle passengers and operators, riding or operating a motorcycle. Under Georgia’s motorcycle helmet law, it's illegal to operate or ride a motorcycle if you don't a protective headgear on.

Why Wear a helmet?

According to Reuters, in 2013, there were 900 deaths and 494,000 emergency room visits in the United States because of bicycle-related injuries. The same study found that wearing helmets reduced the risk of severe traumatic brain injury by 52% and the risk of death by 44%.

Riding a bicycle puts participants at significant risk of head and brain injury. Also, the American Academy of Neurology found that football helmets reduce the risk of focal brain tissue bruising by 70 to 80% and reduce skull fracture by 60 to 70%.


Many people doubt the effectiveness of helmets because they can’t guarantee protection from concussions and brain trauma. However, studies also show that motorcycle helmets can substantially reduce the severity of injury suffered from head trauma.

How Effective are Helmets in Preventing Motorcyclist Death?

Motorcycle traffic accident injuries and deaths cause a tremendous negative economic impact but preventable. The most effective way to save lives and save money is by implementing universal helmet law.

  • In 2016, helmets saved about 1,859 lives.
  • In 2016, if all motorcycle riders had worn helmets, 802 more lives could have been saved. 
  • Every year, the U.S can save over $1billion in economic costs if all motorcycle operators could wear helmets.

Why Do Motorcyclists not Wear Helmets?

Motorcycle traffic crashes are the cause of severe injuries among motorcyclists, especially because of head injuries. It seems that wearing a helmet can protect against head injuries. However, motorcyclists usually don’t wear helmets when riding in cities and have several reasons for this behavior.

The motorcyclists' reasons for not wearing a helmet include the weight of the helmet, neck pain after wearing a helmet, limitation of movements of the neck and head,  visual limitation because of wearing a helmet, overheating, and suffocation caused by the helmet.

Many motorcyclists resist wearing a helmet. Some claim that helmets increase the chance of neck injury and limit vision and hearing. However, there’s no substantial evidence to support these arguments. Others simply don’t like helmets because they feel that helmets aren't ‘cool’ and are annoying. However, if a motorcyclist understands the benefits of wearing a motorcycle helmet, they can significantly reduce the odds of serious or fatal motorcycle accident injuries.

What Type of Helmet Does Georgia Require?

There are three helmet manufacturing industry safety standards you’ll come across when choosing a helmet: Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) 22.05, Department of Transportation (DOT), and Snell (a non-profit memorial foundation).

Typically, safety standards are concerned with impact, positional stability, and retention system strength. Thus, these standards focus on how well the helmet protects against accidents with large objects, whether the helmet stays in place during critical times, and the helmet’s ability to protect all areas of the head.

All helmets must meet DOT helmet standards that set criteria for impact attenuation, penetration resistance, and system effectiveness. In Georgia, there also helmet requirements on verbiage and placement of labels showing DOT compliance. Helmets that meet the DOT safety standards must have a certification sticker. This sticker helps you to decide which helmet to buy. However, no matter the helmet type you buy, make sure your helmet meets the following requirements:

  • Size. Your helmet should fit you comfortably. Some helmet designs come with optional padding, which you can use to adjust the fit of the helmet.
  • Strap. Once you fasten the chin strap, the helmet shouldn’t shift around. The strap should fit snugly under your chin and around your ear.
  • Fit. Wear your helmet low on your forehead, just above your eyebrows.
  • Sticker. Look for stickers that prove the manufacturer met the minimum DOT safety standards.

Many studies reinforce the importance of wearing the helmet properly. Simply wearing a hard head covering is not enough. A loosely fastened helmet is ineffective. Further, helmets that offer full-face coverage are more effective. Compared to half-coverage helmets, full-face helmets are more effective in reducing the risk of brain and facial injuries.

It’s essential to note that safety standards, while necessary, don’t always guarantee the quality and safety of a particular helmet. Sometimes, helmets contain hidden faults that make them unfit for use. If you sustained injuries in a motorcycle collision, and suspect that your helmet didn’t perform the way it should have, contact our experienced motorcycle accident injury attorneys to learn about your legal rights.

What are the Most Common Motorcycle Crash Injuries?

Motorcycle accident injuries happen in all kinds of ways, some of which are unique to motorcycles. One common scenario is when a motorcycle rider hits a patch of standing water or loose gravel. The tires lose contact with the roadway, and the motorcycle tips over. Some motorcycle traffic crashes happen when a driver opens the door of a parked motor vehicle or truck into the path of an oncoming bike. Other obstacles, such as guardrails, light poles, or even hitting a bird, can cause severe injuries. A rider’s body is highly vulnerable to all sorts of impacts and even motorcycle crash deaths.

Brain Injuries

A majority of motorcycle riders wear helmets while riding their motorbikes. This reduces the motorcyclist’s risks. However, even helmeted riders face some risk of sustaining a brain injury in a motorcycle crash.

Motorcyclists often think that if a helmet protects them completely from suffering fatal head injuries, then it should protect them fully against brain injury. However. That’s not the case Even if the scalp or skull suffers no damage in a motorcycle accident, the force of an impact can cause the brain to deform, twist, or shift inside the skull, resulting in damage to blood vessels, brain tissue, and nerves.

One critical benefit of a helmet is absorbing and redistributing the force of an impact to prevent this harmful movement of the brain inside the skull. However, even the best helmet might not reduce the impact of the crash or offer maximum protection enough to prevent severe injuries.

Spinal Cord Injuries

A motorcyclist who is thrown from a motorcycle onto the ground in a crash also faces a high risk of spinal cord injury. A motorcycle helmet can provide indirect protection against spinal injuries by shielding the base of the upper part of the spine and the skull from impact. However, motorcyclists can still suffer spinal cord injuries and cervical spine injuries.

Often, spinal cord injuries cause paralysis, which changes a motorcyclist’s life permanently, and can cost millions of dollars to treat and adapt to the new life.

Road Rash

In some motorcycle crashes, the motorcyclist falls off the bike, or gets pinned under the motorcycle, and slides off the roadway. Any part of the biker’s body that’s not protected by protective gear suffers the severe abrasions, lacerations, and friction burns of a road rash. Thus, face shields on helmets can make a significant difference for the rider’s safety.


Severe road rash are similar to severe burns in many ways. They damage the skin and the tissue beneath it, causing debilitating pain and exposing the motorcyclist to the danger of fatal infection. Road rash injuries leave disfiguring scars and take months to heal.

Leg Injuries

Motorcycle accident injuries to the lower extremities are the most common injury--approximately 47 percent of motorcyclists involved in accidents sustain these injuries. When on the motorcycle, a motorcyclist’s feet and legs are closest to the ground. And they’re the first to hit the ground in a crash. When the bike rolls over, often it falls on top of the rider’s legs, causing a fracture of the tibial and fibula, or damage to ligaments.

Chest Injuries

About 1 in 7 motorcyclist fatalities affect the chest area, or thorax, including the ribs and the sternum. These severe injuries are dangerous because they can puncture the ribs and internal organs, causing infection and severe health complications.

If you sustained motorcycle accident injuries because of someone else’s negligence, our knowledgeable Decatur injury lawyers can help you pursue the maximum financial compensation you need to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, and other financial damages. Our personal injury law firm has recovered millions in settlements and verdicts for thousands of injured motorcyclists in Decatur and throughout Georgia and we can help you too.

To schedule a free initial consultation, please call Marks Law Group, P.C., at (678) 251-9309, or complete our online form for a free case review.