This subject is probably one of the most controversial topics in the motorcycle world. There are those that demand the right not to wear a helmet, and there are those who always wear helmets. Many states have laws requiring you to wear a DOT helmet, and some states allow riders to choose as to whether they want to wear a helmet or not.
When I started riding motorcycles or I should say mini bikes at the age of five, I thank my father for putting a helmet on my head. To this day I will never forget that day in 1968 when I first got on a mini bike and promptly crashed into a drainage ditch. When I hit my head on the pavement in the crash there was no damage to my head whatsoever because I was wearing the helmet. Who knows where I would be right now if was not wearing a helmet at that time. Thank you Dad.
Later on in my adult life I rode probably hundreds of thousands of miles wearing no helmet all. When laws were enacted in the state of California which required you to wear a helmet, I wore a novelty beanie helmet because I had to, not because I wanted to. As you all know these beanie helmets are just for show and are worthless in an accident.
Later on, I picked up a full face helmet to wear in bad weather, or on long runs through the desert at night when bugs are particularly nasty. However, I still wore either a beanie helmet, or no helmet all depending upon the state I was riding in.
This all changed for me when I started handling motorcycle accident cases as a lawyer. I have seen the horrible and grotesque results of motorcycle accident injuries which involve riders with no helmets.
After one of my good friends went down on the San Bernardino Freeway and was seriously injured, I decided to switch to a full face helmet for protection.
After much inner contemplation, I decided that I would rather have a face, then look cool. If you have ever seen someone who has lost their face in a motorcycle accident you would probably change your mind too. For me, I made the conscious decision to go for safety because I was not willing to live with the ramifications of going down knowing that I could do something to protect myself.
I have found that my rides are much more pleasurable with a full face helmet as well. Not only are you mostly protected from the suns burning rays, but you are protected from wind, road debris, and bugs as well. It is much easier to put in a 400 mile day on your motorcycle wearing a full face helmet, than without. You can look to your left and right while riding at speed and not have any wind fatigue on your face or eyes whatsoever.
Have you ever hit a June Bug while riding at 80 mph? I have. At first, I thought I was shot between the eyes on the forehead, and thought for sure that I was going to pass out after a few seconds, but I did not pass out. I had one heck of a welt on my forehead, the bug goo was everywhere. Had I been wearing my full face helmet at the time, it would have been no big deal.
Another benefit of the full face helmet is skin protection, not just from sunburn which can cause cancer, but from the stretching of the skin that occurs at high speed from the wind. If you ride for many years like I have, the last thing you want is for your skin to be wrinkled and leathered like a prune. The full face helmet will protect your facial skin from the ravages of the wind.
One more benefit of the full face helmet is partial protection from the loud noise that is part of motorcycling. Even if you ride a crotch rocket or a quiet bike, average wind noise and traffic noise can be deafening. The full face will give you partial ear protection as well.
Therefore, as a biker, and a motorcycle lawyer, I highly recommend that you wear a full face D.O.T. certified helmet for face and head protection at all times while riding a motorcycle.
I personally where a full face helmet of the new flip up variety so that I can flip up the helmet when I want to have a cigarette, or stop for gas, without having to take it the helmet off.
I would not force my views upon anybody, these are just my personal recommendations. I firmly believe that every motorcycle rider should have the right to choose.
There are many valid arguments for not wearing helmets, and for wearing helmets. Whatever you decide to do on this issue, remember this; are you willing to lose your face or brain in a motorcycle accident?
Be smart, wear the best possible helmet while riding. It could save your life and your face, your brain, and your life!
By Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq. , Copyright 2006