Across the United States, MotorCycle helmets are required for children riding on motorcycles. Though laws vary from state to state, the most important factor when selecting a helmet for children should be safety.
Whether made for adults or children, not all MotorCycle helmets are the same. When selecting safe helmets for children, it is crucial to look for safety features that will protect precious cargo.
The United States government actually regulates the manufacture of motor vehicles and equipment. This includes motorcycle helmets. Th e agency responsible for such regulation is the U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Standard No. 218, effective 3-1-74 addresses the safety of motorcycle helmets. It established a minimum performance standard for helmets based on the desire to reduce injuries and deaths from head impacts.
However, that is not the only safety standards set for motorcycle helmets. The Snell Memorial Foundation and the Federation Internationale de Automobile (FIA) have come up with their own safety standards for helmets worn by children on motorcycles.
These standards go beyond the requirements of the U.S. Government and are designed to address a common problem: chicken’s helmets really being just small-sized adult helmets. These helmets have been found to be lacking the specific protection children need for their head sizes, shapes and developmental stages. Snell and the FIA address these limitations in their standards.
Their particular standards address two different age groups: 6 to 11 and 12 to 15. These standards address the various sizes and weights of children in those groups, as well.
Just as child safety seats for vehicles address the different ages, sizes and weights of children in order to optimize safety for them, helmets for children on motorcycles should do likewise. Some of the safety features tested for Snell/FIA helmets include shell penetration, impact, dynamic retention, visor penetration and roll-off.
Additionally, the aforementioned small-sized adult helmets issue is addressed by creating helmets that fit the way a child’s head is shaped. The helmet is lighter weight due to the lower neck strength of children. The chin strap is designed to accommodate a smaller chin and face. The height of the helmet is designed to better fit the way a child’s head height and neck length are shorter. This helps prevent the helmet from hitting the child’s shoulders while not sitting on the top of the child’s head.
Regardless of manufacturer, when selecting a child’s MotorCycle helmet, safety should be sought. Carefully review the label and look for any certification or safety seal that indicated the helmet is made for safety and not just for appearance. Also look for anything that indicates it has been tested and is built specifically for children in your child’s age, height and weight range.
Try the helmet on the child to ensure proper fit. It should sit comfortably on the child’s head without resting on the shoulders. When the chin strap is properly secured, the helmet should not shift when the child shakes her head or nods with some vigor. The child should be able to comfortably see and move her head.
If the helmet is boxed, ask a store employee to assist in removing the helmet in order to try the fit. Never buy a helmet without ensuring a proper fit and an adherence to safety standards.
Before buying the helmet, also ensure it is in pristine condition. Second-hand helmets may seem like a good deal, but if they have been in any type of accident, they will have inherent spots of weakness that will lessen their effectiveness for your child. Those helmets are great for decoration, DIY or dress-up purposes, but not for actual use on a motorcycle.