The Case Against Buying a Used Motorcycle Helmet

It’s not uncommon in a private sale of a used motorcycle for the seller to throw in a used helmet to sweeten the deal. This is especially true when young people buy their first motorcycle, since they’ve often only scraped together enough cash for the bike. But beware: the reason you’re getting a used helmet for free is probably because it’s worthless.

Motorcycle helmets are built like the crumple zones on automobiles. Both collapse to absorb impact while protecting what’s inside. For this reason, riders should always treat their helmets like fragile objects. If the helmet is mishandled and takes a lot of knocks, its inner protective layer – the polystyrene – compresses, so in a crash it has no more protection to give. It’s just a brittle piece of plastic that doesn’t cushion your head at all. In fact, one drop in the life of a helmet is enough to render it useless in a crash. Has the used helmet you’ve been offered been dropped? There’s no way, short of cutting open the outer shell, to judge the condition of the inner polystyrene.

Another inconvenient fact about motorcycle helmets is that the polystyrene degrades and hardens over time. Just wearing the helmet around in the sun and exposing it to gasoline vapors can weaken the polystyrene cushion. So, even if no one ever drops the helmet, it becomes less safe with each passing day. The Snell Foundation, which is in the business of evaluating helmet safety, recommends buying a new helmet every five years. That should make you wary about accepting a four-year-old helmet when you don’t know where it’s been. The bottom line for bikers is this: if you can’t afford a new helmet to go along with the bike, you can’t afford the bike.

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident anywhere in North Carolina, speak to an experienced accident attorney at Lanier Law Group, P.A. Call us today at 919.848.2000 to schedule a free consultation.

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