Motorcycle riders are especially vulnerable to injury because they ride exposed to the outside world. So if a collision throws a rider onto the ground, wearing a helmet may make the difference between life or death. The important thing is to find a strong helmet that will offer sufficient protection in a road accident. 

There are a number of ways to find a safe riding helmet. The helmet should consist of the right materials to protect the head of the rider. Riders also need a helmet that will properly fit. The NHTSA describes some steps riders may take to find a safe motorcycle helmet. 

Determining helmet fit

Before shopping for a helmet, riders should find out their own head size and shape. Head shapes can come in long oval, round oval or intermediate oval types. Riders can measure their head with a cloth tape, propping the tape higher than the eyebrows and then wrapping it around until it reaches the back of the head at the thickest point. 

Having determined their head measurement, riders may use a size chart to find the right size helmet. Riders should not expect a perfect fit, though. The helmet should feel a little snug but it should not be uncomfortable to wear. Checking the helmet for pressure locations before riding may help to avoid an awkward helmet. 

Checking for unsafe features

Riders should be on the lookout for signs that a helmet may not be safe. A helmet with strange designs and decorations might not provide adequate protection. Helmets should also weigh about three pounds. A lightweight helmet weighing only about a pound is likely too dangerous for wear. Helmets that skimp on proper materials, like using plastic buckles instead of strong chin straps, are also unlikely to guard the head of a rider as they should. 

Helmet ratings systems

A motorcycle helmet has to meet the standards set by the U.S. Department of Transportation. One way to tell is to look at whether the helmet carries a DOT seal of approval. This tells the rider that the helmet has undergone the proper testing to make sure the helmet can withstand certain pressures and resistance. 

Riders may encounter other ratings systems as well. The Snell Memorial Foundation subjects racing helmets to vigorous testing since racing helmets need to offer stronger protection than casual motorcycle rides. Riders who go to Europe may encounter similar motorcycle ratings systems, such as the Safety Helmet Assessment Rating Programme, which rates helmets according to a numerical score.