Not all motorcycle helmets offer adequate protection in crashes

Throughout the world, motorcycles are a major contributor to road crashes that involve deaths and serious injuries. In response, many US states and foreign countries have enacted motorcycle helmet laws. Although a review of the scientific literature shows that wearing helmets has led to a marked decrease in the number of rider deaths and injuries, few studies have addressed the role played by different types of helmets in preventing head and facial injuries.

A team of researchers in Brazil compared the ability of two helmet types—full-face and open face—to decrease the incidence of head and facial injuries among motorcycle riders.

Not all motorcycle helmets offer adequate protection in crashesA total of 253 motorcyclists who had sustained these types of injuries—many of them with facial fractures and traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)—were referred for outpatient treatment. Of this number, 46 reported having used full-face helmets, 56 reported having used open-face helmets, and 156 reported having used no helmets at all.

While no significant differences in injuries were noted between the open-face helmet users and the unhelmeted riders, those who had used full-face helmets were found to have suffered substantially fewer head and facial injuries. These results led the researchers to conclude that full-face helmets offer more protection and to recommend further investigation into helmet types and the quality of protection they offer.