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Why you likely need to replace your motorcycle helmet after a crash

On Behalf of | Apr 7, 2024 | Car And Truck Accidents

Anyone operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle in California is required to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet. While helmets can’t protect people from all serious and sometimes fatal injuries, they can reduce the number and severity of head injuries. That’s particularly true in slower-speed crashes. Contrary to what most people believe, in the majority of motorcycle-involved collisions, the motorcyclist is traveling at under 30 miles per hour.

Oftentimes, motorcyclists aren’t sure whether to get a new helmet after being involved in a collision where their head (and their helmet) have struck the ground, another vehicle or a solid object like a guard rail or post. They may think that helmets purchased in recent years are built to withstand multiple collisions (and the packaging might even say so) or that if the helmet looks fine on the outside, it can’t have been damaged very much.

The interior of a helmet can sustain invisible damage

To understand why safety experts recommend buying a new one after a collision, it’s important to understand the inner components of a motorcycle helmet. Helmets contain a protective foam. There are two primary types of foam: expanded polystyrene (EPS) and expanded polypropylene (EPP). While EPS foam is designed to survive one impact because the foam crumbles, EPP foam may still provide safety after a single impact if it wasn’t too strong. However, it still won’t provide the protection it did when it was new. Say the foam survived the crash intact. There could be internal cracks in the helmet’s casing, even if the exterior looks fine once it’s been polished.

In short, it’s not worth taking a chance on your helmet still providing necessary protection if it has been involved in a wreck. If your collision was caused by someone else, the cost of a new helmet should be included in your pursuit for economic damages, along with repair or replacement of the motorcycle and, of course, medical expenses and lost wages.

One final note: Never give a helmet that’s been in a collision to a thrift store, try to sell it online or even throw it away where someone could potentially retrieve it. No one else should wear it for safety purposes. After it’s been used as evidence, if necessary, if you don’t want to keep it as a reminder of the crash you survived, find out where you can take it to be safely recycled.