Unbiased news and research about road traffic safety for kids

Kids on mopeds/motorbikes should wear a helmet

Young people all over the world eagerly await the day when they are allowed to ride a moped or light motorcycle. Over the years, fashion seem to have dictated if helmets are “in” or “out”. However, research has shown that helmets greatly reduce the risk of serious head injury when the rider is involved in an accident.

The effect of a helmet on head injury

Wearing a helmet considerably reduces the risk of head injury in a crash. In the early 1980′s researchers Huijbers and Van Kampen estimated the effect of wearing a helmet: the risk of being killed was 40% lower and that of severe injury went down with 30%.

More recent studies confirm this positive effect. For example, an Italian study among scooter riders from 2003 showed that after helmet use was made compulsory, the risk of head trauma was three to four times smaller. A WHO study from 2006 states that the risk of head injury and its severity is 72% less when wearing a helmet.

This, obviously, requires the helmet to be worn correctly.

Types of helmets

There are mainly three types of helmets today:

  1. the integral helmet: this is a helmet that completely encloses the entire head and is equipped with a fixed jaw guard.
  2. the jet helmet; this helmet does not have a jaw guard but only a usually hinged visor in front.
  3. the system helmet; this is an integral helmet with a hinged jaw guard.

Helmet types: integral, jet and system helmet.

Studies have been carried out of any differences in effectiveness between the various helmet types, particularly the integral helmet and the jet helmet. It is clear that an integral helmet with a fixed jaw guard considerably reduces the risk of chin and facial injury. The jet helmet lacks this protection. This should be considered when choosing a helmet.

Does helmet color matter? According to a study by Wells et al. (2004), the color of the helmet can be important in preventing crashes. Wearers of a white helmet even have a 24% lower crash rate than those wearing a black helmet. The increased visibility makes motorcycle riders easy to spot by other trafficants.

For more information see information from the Dutch Institute for road safety research, SWOV.

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