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Motorcycle Safety | The Design and Performance of Helmets

DirectAsia Insurance_Motorcyclist wearing a full face helmet

Interesting Facts about the Design and Performance of Motorcycle Helmets

All motorcyclists should understand the importance of wearing a good motorcycle helmet. Without the structural protection of a car, a motorcycle helmet acts like an armour for riders, against serious head injuries, in the event of an accident. 

Because of this, there are many factors to consider when buying a motorcycle helmet. Besides the material used, the fit and comfort of the helmet should be contemplated with full regard. It’s also worth noting that in Singapore, motorcycle riders caught wearing unapproved helmets could face severe penalties. The current law states that first-time offenders could be jailed for up to three months and/or fined up to S$500. If you’re caught a second time, you could be jailed for up to six months and/or fined up to S$1,000.

The safety requirements for a motorcyclists’ protective helmet is based on the Singapore Standard 9 : 2014, which is listed by the PSB (Singapore’s Productivity and Standards Board), now renamed SPRING (Standards, Productivity and Innovation Board) Singapore. 

Based on this, testing of motorcycle helmets involving various methods is conducted by a German testing, inspection and certification firm, known as TUV SUD. 

This organisation is responsible for testing the protective padding material, motorcycle shell structure integrity, helmet visor and the effectiveness of the retention system that keeps the helmet snug on the rider’s head. If approved, a sticker with a blue tick and the words “batch inspected” is affixed at the back of the helmet to certify that it’s compliant with the safety standards and approved for use in Singapore.

Read on to learn more about the use, design and performance of motorcycle helmets.

Important Facts You Should Know About the Design and Use of Motorcycle Helmets 

What Material Choices Are There in Motorcycle Helmet Construction?

As mentioned, it’s common sense that your motorcycle helmet protects your head from hard impact. But do you understand the technical expertise behind the design of it? Here we’ve explained what happens to the head in the event of a motorcycle crash, and the components of a helmet that help reduce this effect.

1. Hit Zone

When a motorcycle is involved in a collision, the rider is often thrown off the bike. When this happens, it’s highly likely that the rider will land face first on the ground. In most cases, the main hit zone is the forehead and the chin. This can result in anything from a minor head injury, such as a concussion, to a cracked jaw or skull. 

To mitigate this, comfort padding is added to the inner layer of your motorcycle helmet and on the chin strap. On top of that, the helmet shell is made to distribute the impact of the crash over a greater surface area so that it is not concentrated on the skull. 

2. Impact Material

The most common impact material a helmet comes into contact with is the gravel road and flat pavement. In this instance, the shell and impact-absorbing layer of the helmet provides additional protection for the head against severe traumatic brain injury. It prevents direct contact between the skull and the impacting object by acting as a barrier between the head and the object.

This is why motorcycle helmets have a hard shell with a smooth exterior. But, although the shell is solid, it is designed to compress when it hits a hard surface. It also protects against penetration of sharp and high speed objects as well as knocks and abrasions from daily use. The dense inner layer on the other hand, cushions and absorbs the shock and inertia created, when the helmet stops and the head continues moving from the impact.

3. Retention System

This ensures the helmet stays on the head in a crash. It is meant to ensure that there is limited movement of your head within the helmet during impact, which is what helps protect your head from serious injury. The chin and neck straps are designed as part of this mechanism to keep the helmet on during an impact.

4. Helmet Design

In addition to meeting the described functions and conforming to safety standards, a helmet is designed to suit local weather conditions. The following are some of the considerations that go into motorcycle helmet designs:

  • Materials used – Should not degrade over time due to exposure to weather, nor should it be toxic or cause allergic reactions. The materials used should also be sturdy and shock-absorbent. 
  • Helmet Coverage – As shown in the image above, a “full-face” helmet offers the highest level of protection; “open face” being second. But, “half-cap” helmets do not meet the needed safety requirements. And keep in mind that a full-face helmet should not block your vision and your hearing should not be compromised.

Never Ride Without a Helmet!

As a responsible motorcyclist, you should always protect yourself while riding. You can be issued a penalty of $150 and 3 demerit points for failing to wear or not securely wearing a protective helmet. So, you should invest in a good motorcycle helmet that meets all the crucial requirements and safety standards. There are also smart helmets worth looking into to assist you when riding. 

However, it’s possible that accidents may still occur even if you take all the necessary precautions to avoid the fatal risk of skull damage and traumatic brain injury. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident resulting in serious injury – whether sustained by yourself or another road user – that’s when your motorcycle insurance is going to help. That’s why it is important to choose the right cover and protection to cater for unexpected incidents.