Motorcycle Helmets Have an Expiration Date
You’re probably familiar with the idea of checking the expiration date on that ricotta cheese that has been sitting in your fridge, but have you checked the expiration date on your motorcycle helmet recently? Yes, motorcycle helmets do have definite expiration dates and could become less effective in the event of an auto accident.
Ask yourself these questions to determine whether or not it’s time for a replacement.
Has Your Helmet Been Through a Crash?
If your helmet was involved in an accident, it probably absorbed some of the shock of impact. Sometimes you can see the damage—the shell can crack and break if it has taken a severe hit, but sometimes the damage is invisible. If it has absorbed impact shock resulting from a motorcycle accident, it may have lost quite a bit of protective value.
This rule even applies to a helmet absorbing impact shock without a head inside. If you see any visible signs of damage, or if you’ve dropped it on the ground, seriously consider replacing it.
Is Your Helmet Made Out of Outdated Materials?
It’s important to look at when your helmet was made. All helmets made after 1974 have a production date stamp on them. If your helmet doesn’t have a stamp, it’s well past its expiration date.
Aside from the fact that all helmets lose efficiency over time, older helmets were made with polycarbonate material on the inside. Recent studies have shown that ultraviolet light can reduce the effectiveness of this material, so many polycarbonate helmets are no longer in circulation. Today, you are more likely to find motorcycle helmets made out of UV-resistant fiber.
The inside of today’s helmets tend to consist primarily of polystyrene. This is a great material to protect the head in the event of a motorcycle accident, but this material can also lose effectiveness. Research indicates that polystyrene loses 2% of efficiency per year simply due to evaporation. Therefore, five years down the road, your helmet is at least 10% less effective than it was when it was brand new.
How do you Care for Your Helmet When you’re Not Using it?
Keep in mind that five years is more of an estimated helmet shelf life. The exact amount of time that your helmet will be performing at its best depends substantially on how you care for it. Some motorcyclists develop a habit of leaving their helmet in the sun or on top of their fuel tank; both are practices that can chemically react with the polystyrene material—causing it to deteriorate.
Similarly, washing the inside of a helmet with water too often will substantially decrease the helmet’s effectiveness. If you’re prone to sweating when you’re on your bike, consider a helmet with removable liners. They’re easier to clean, and dry quickly.
Has Your Helmet Been Inspected?
It might be time for an inspection if you haven’t ridden the motorcycle in a while, or if a helmet has recently been packed for storage or a move. Some helmet manufacturers offer a service to inspect or repair a helmet for free. This is a great service to help you determine whether or not your helmet is going to be performing at its best during any accident you may have in the future. Contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers