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Can you identify unsafe motorcycle helmets?

The federal Department of Transportation mandates that every motorcycle helmet sold in America meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. The standard sets minimum performance levels that helmets have to meet to adequately protect riders' brains and heads in motorcycle accidents.

How can you be sure your helmet complies?

There must be a thick inner liner of approximately an inch of polystyrene foam, which may or may not be visible, and a chin strap anchored solidly with rivets.

Approved helmets will usually weigh around 3 lbs., and there can't be anything protruding more than 2/10 of one inch from its surface. In general, full-face helmet designs are considered to be safer than those without the facial coverage, although that style is not mandatory.

All helmets meeting or exceeding FMVSS 218 will have a DOT sticker affixed to the outside rear of the helmet. Good indicators of a helmet's safety can be the addition of ANSI or Snell labels inside the head gear.

Wearing a FMVSS 218-compliant motorcycle helmet every single time that you climb on the back of your bike to go for a cruise around Manhattan or the other four boroughs of New York City is the single most safety-conscious move you can make.

But no matter how proactive motorcyclists are about their own safety, they can still be badly injured in collisions with other drivers. If you suffered injuries in a motorcycle crash, you have rights. Even if the other driver wasn't ticketed or arrested after colliding with your motorcycle, you still may be able to seek justice through the civil courts.

Source: National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, "How to Identify Unsafe Motorcycle Helmets," accessed Aug. 26, 2016

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