Most people say: “It’s common sense, if you want to ride a vehicle without an enclosed cabin or play certain contact sports, you should wear a helmet to stay safe.” The question is, how often do helmets really make a difference? And furthermore, how do helmets protect your head from injury?
Our brains are the most important organs in our bodies and are the most vulnerable to serious harm. If you think about it, our bodies have already developed a natural means to protect our brains by shielding it inside our skull. A helmet is basically just another skull that absorbs more shock from blunt trauma.
If you’ve ever worn a helmet, you’ve probably noticed that there is either a foam or rubber inside the helmet, while the outside is a hard shell. This rubber lining is actually more important than you might think. In order to protect your head, your helmet uses a material to absorb most of the force exerted on your head. This is why good helmets will actually break when you crash into something, in order to absorb the most damage. The hard shell, on the other hand, provides its own layer of protection and helps to distribute the force of impact to your head away from a centralized area. By applying this added protection the person wearing the helmet can significantly reduce the chances of brain injury.
Helmets simply save lives. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that helmets prevented deaths in motorcycle crashes 37 percent of the time, and also prevented another 67 percent of riders from sustaining a brain injury. This information makes it surprising that only 20 states in the US require all riders to wear helmets by law. The same study also revealed that only nine percent of ATV riders who died in 2014 were wearing helmets. This means that the chances of dying on an ATV is 91 percent more likely if you are not wearing a helmet.
Another study showed that bicycle helmets can reduce the risk of sustaining a brain injury by up to 85 percent. Clearly, it is a wiser choice to wear a helmet if there is any reasonable risk of a head injury. This is not to say that correlation is equal to definitive causation, but the staggering amount of evidence regarding helmet use shows that helmets are effective in saving lives and preventing severe brain damage.