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CHP: Motorcyclists Should Throw Fashion, Not Caution, to the Wind

The California Highway Patrol has launched a year-long motorcycle safety campaign that officials hope will reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities around the state. In some communities, local law enforcement has teamed up with CHPS to run saturation patrols similar to the saturation patrols around holidays: Police will be out in force to enforce safe driving laws among drivers of all types of vehicles. A safe environment for motorcycles, of course, requires all drivers to be aware of traffic laws and safe driving habits.

Safe driving habits for motorcyclists, of course, include wearing bright clothing or reflective gear. And while California has required helmets for all riders for more than 20 years, officials want to remind riders that not all helmets are alike and not all helmets offer the same level of protection in an accident. As stylish as “novelty” German helmets are — the half-helmets are also called “skull caps” — they are just not as safe as regulation helmets.

New motorcycle drivers and “casual” drivers may not realize that wearing a novelty helmet is a violation of the state’s helmet law. Worse, according to U.S. Department of Transportation safety materials, some riders may purchase these half-helmets in the mistaken belief that they are DOT-approved. In California, everyone on a motorcycle needs to wear helmet that meets strict DOT standards; in fact, the DOT requires that all helmets sold in the country meet these standards.

Retailers and manufacturers get around the regulations by marketing non-compliant helmets as novelties. The DOT makes it easy for riders to figure out if the helmets meet safety standards: There is a “DOT” sticker on the back of the helmet.

There is much more to motorcycle safety than bright clothing and legal helmets, though. We’ll get into some pointers in our next post.

Sources: 

The Press Enterprise, “PUBLIC SAFETY: Campaign revs up on motorcycle safety,” Brian Rokos, Feb. 10, 2014

U.S. Department of Transportation, “How to Identify Unsafe Motorcycle Helmets,” Sept. 2004

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