According to a recent survey of over 1000 motorcycle riders, estimates are that as many as 400,000 UK motorcyclists are trusting their motorcycle helmet safety to crash helmets that have been in use for longer than five years.
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Helmets have a 'use-by- date
Significantly, helmet manufacturers concur with the findings of the Snell Foundation (independent safety experts), that beyond five years – motorcycle helmets no longer offer maximum motorcycle helmet safety. Consensus is that motorcycle helmets should be replaced immediately if damaged and at least every five years with normal use. Sharp Motorcycle Helmet Safety Scheme, suggests a higher standard of three years for helmets that are used frequently, plus offers further advice on essential steps regarding helmet storage and cleaning.
Are motorcyclists aware of the facts?
Based on 2014 motorcycle accident statistics – during the 10 years up to 2013, 80% of motorcycle fatalities involved a serious head injury. Looking to more recent figures and with around 60 motorcycle accidents occurring daily on UK roads (16 of which involving serious injury) – questions should be asked by all motorcyclists regarding their own attitude to motorcycle helmet safety.
Why does motorcycle helmet safety decrease over time?
Motorcycle helmet manufacture involves a variety of resins and glues. Whilst these are of paramount importance to the manufacture of a certified safe helmet, it is acknowledged that over time these chemicals can negatively affect a helmets inner liner. Further degrading a helmets efficiency are the combined effects of sweat, body oils, hair products, cleaning, along with the usual wear and tear of regular use. These contributing factors are unavoidable and research unanimously supports manufacturer advice that motorcycle helmets have an effective ‘use-by’ date.
According to the survey,
- 63% would continue to wear a helmet they’d accidently dropped
- 41% wear a helmet that is more than five year’s old
- 22% said they would continue wearing a helmet if it ‘looked’ fine
Fashion vs safety in choice of motorcycle helmets
Given the injury statistics, purchasing a helmet that offers the maximum possible protection makes perfect sense and the Sharp Helmet Safety Scheme does offer safety ratings for close to 400 motorcycle helmets – 53 of which currently offer Sharps maximum five-star rating. Whilst this measurement does not constitute all that is essential to helmet safety, it does clearly demonstrate that five-star protection is possible for less than £200. Sharp claims that this alone could save the lives of 50 motorcyclists per year in the UK.
Whilst in the survey over half spent £200 or more on their helmet, results suggest a significant fashion bias, with 38% opting for a poorly visible black helmet and the safer colours of yellow and blue only accounting for 20% of helmet preference.
What does a Sharp five-star rating mean?
It’s difficult to find the actual figures on-line, but in short, Sharp ratings are a measure of how well a helmet can protect a rider in the event of a crash. During their tests, Sharp have consistently found safety performance difference of as much as 70% between low and high scoring helmets. Sharp is the only independent motorcycle helmet assessment that results in a safety rating!
53 motorcycle helmets that are five-star Sharp rated
Updated list available here: sharp.direct.gov.uk/ and at the time of writing, the following motorcycle helmets all ‘rank’ as five-star with Sharp:
Caberg Trip, Caberg V2 407, Duchinni D832, Lazer Bora, Lazer LZ6, Marushin 777 Samura, Marushin 777 Tiger, MT Revenge, Nitro Aikido
£100 – £200
AGV S-4, AGV Stealth, Bell M1, Buell Turbulent, Caberg Duke and Tourmax, Caberg Konda, Caberg V2R, Caberg V2RR, Caberg Vox, HJC IS-17, MT Matrix, Nitro Evo Carbon FF, Nitro N1700VF, Shark RSX, Viper RS1010
£200 – £300
X-Lite X702, X-Lite X603, Suomy Vandal, Shoei Qwest, Shark Evoline 3, Marushin RS2 Carbon, Marushin RS1 Carbon, HJC HQ1, BMW System 5, Bell M6, Bell M5X, Bell M3R, AGV T2,
£300 – £400
Shoei XR-1100, Shark RSR2, Shark Race R, Bell M4R, AGV Veloce GT, AGV GP Tech,
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