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NHTSA Wants to Regulate Novelty Motorcycle Helmets

Novelty motorcycle helmets have never been in higher demand. After all, hit TV shows like the Sons of Anarchy have their main characters (who belong to a multi-chapter motorcycle gang) wearing "cool" helmets with even "cooler" paint jobs. Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA), too many riders and passengers who are choosing to make a style statement are failing to notice that most novelty helmets sold for on-road use do not meet any safety requirements. Something the NHTSA hopes to see changed by proposed legislation.

"Motorcycle rider deaths are disproportionally high. Our nation lost 4,668 motorcyclists in 2013 alone and protective helmets could have saved many of those lives," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.

The recent NHTSA proposal does not attempt to argue whether states like Texas who amended mandatory motorcycle helmet requirements* were right in doing so. Instead it is attempting to bring attention to the fact that many cool-looking helmets, e.g. German WWII Battle Helmet, are manufactured to meet DOT safety standards while thousands of cheaply made novelty helmets do not. A recent study of motorcyclists transported to shock trauma centers following an accident determined that 56% of those wearing a novelty helmet had serious head injuries, compared to only 19% of those wearing a DOT-certified helmet.

Although some riders legally choose to not wear a helmet when the law permits, there is still the potential for negligence if consumers are being mislead when unsafe helmets are marketed for on-road use. If you have suffered injury in a motorcycle accident or lost someone who was wearing a novelty helmet, contact experienced motorcycle accident attorney Robert Grossman for an immediate consultation to discuss the details of your claim.

*Texas Motorcycle Helmet Laws

State of Texas laws that required the use of helmets when operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle were changed in 2009. As a trade off, then Governor Rick Perry signed into a law a bill that made it legal for a 21-year old who had completed successfully completed a motorcycle operator training and safety course under Chapter 622 or who was covered by a health insurance plan providing the person with a minimum of $10,000 medical benefits for injuries sustained in an accident to operate or ride on a motorcycle without a helmet.