Motorcycle Safety

Click here to review the Motorcycle Operator manual.

There is much more skill and knowledge required to ride a motorcycle than to drive a car. Don't put all your expertise at risk! Every time you mount your motor, you should be ready to focus 100% on the ride. Most collisions with motorcycles occur because motor vehicle drivers are not paying close enough attention. Always be vigilant when riding and expect the unexpected.

Motorcycle Crash Facts - 2013 by County and Year
Motorcycle Fatalities by County - 2012
Motorcycle Fatalities by Year - 2011
Click here to see a complete list of Arizona Crash Facts.

Two of the most important things for a safe ride are your helmet and riding gear!

Helmets
Head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. Motorcycle crash statistics show that helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing crash fatalities. That is, on average, riders wearing a helmet have a 37 percent better chance of surviving a crash than riders without a helmet.

The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests helmets to determine whether they comply with the safety standard covering motorcycle helmets. By law, manufacturers must certify that their helmets meet or exceed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218 by placing the symbol "DOT" on the back of the helmet. However, some helmets do carry the DOT label even though they do not meet those requirements.

How a Helmet Works
In a crash, a helmet absorbs the impact before it reaches the head. It absorbs and spreads some of the impact energy through its outer shell, which is usually made of fiberglass or plastic. Most of the impact, however, is absorbed by the liner that reduces the force of the impact from being transmitted directly to the head. This liner is usually made from polystyrene foam, lies between the outer shell of the helmet and the comfort liner – the foam layer that actually touches the head.

Choosing The Right Gear
Consider these factors when purchasing a motorcycle helmet or examining the helmet you already own:

Always try on a helmet before you buy it. Be cautious when buying helmets at swap meets, garage sales, non-reputable shops, etc. A helmet should feel snug and you should not be able to move it around or back and forth on your head. A helmet should not prevent you from turning your head to observe traffic. All helmets are required to provide the wearer with a 210-degree field of vision.

Replace a helmet that has been damaged and avoid buying a used one. A used helmet may have been involved in a crash and could be damaged in ways that are not obvious. Even drops from a motorcycle seat or the end of a handlebar can shorten the life span of a helmet. Any damage to a helmet reduces its effectiveness. Follow the helmet care instructions as indicated in the owner’s manual.

A full-face helmet offers the most protection in a crash. These helmets completely cover the head and have a bar that extends over the chin. Most full-face helmets are equipped with plastic face shields to protect against rain, insects, and road debris. If you buy a helmet without a face shield, be sure to wear goggles to protect your eyes.

Always fasten the helmet when wearing it. An unfastened helmet will fly off in a crash. Check the chinstrap regularly to make sure it is still secure.
   
Riding Gear
When riding a motorcycle, care must be taken to insure that the proper riding gear is worn.
At a minimum, motorcycle riders should wear the following items:

  • DOT approved helmet
  • Eye protection
  • Long-sleeve shirt or jacket
  • Denim jeans
  • Closed footwear
  • Gloves

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218
FMVSS 218 stipulates minimum performance requirements for helmets that are designed to be used by motorcyclists. All helmets sold in the United States are required to meet or exceed the standards requirements. These requirements include:

Impact Attenuation:
The helmet’s ability to protect the motorcyclist’s head in the event of a crash by absorbing the impact with the inner liner.

Penetration:
The helmet has the ability to protect the motorcyclist’s head from the intrusion of sharp objects which might be encountered in a crash.

Peripheral Vision:

The minimum field of view provided by the helmet.

Rigid Projections:

The height of projections both inside and outside of the helmet.

Labeling:
Labels with the following information must be permanently affixed to each helmet:

  • Manufacturer’s name and identification
  • Model designation
  • Size
  • Month and year of manufacture
  • DOT symbol – compliance certification
  • Shell and liner composition
  • Cleaning instructions
  • Warning against any modifications

Motorcycle Training School
Click here for a list of Motorcycle classes in Arizona.

To locate the nearest motorcycle training school, contact the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or at 1-800-446-9227.

Motorcycle Safety
Web Links

Safety Tips

Motorcycle Helmets

Sharing the Road with Motorcycles