Road Safety

Road Safety

Open vs Full Face Helmets


Recreational biking on 'lifestyle' motorcycles like Harleys, Triumphs and Bullets is really growing in popularity in India. Along with these bikes also comes a pre-defined 'image' for the people riding them.



You gotta admit, this looks pretty bad-ass:




A small but significant part of this 'image' is the use of open-face helmets:




But there's a problem. And it's a growing one. Bikers are putting looks and comfort ahead of functionality and safety.

Common sense would tell you that open-face helmets aren't as safe as full-face helmets; but without knowing the specific figures, it's easy for bikers to say that they're willing to take the additional risk.

Research has shown the exact distribution of impact zones on helmets during bike crashes:







For a more detailed break-up, see the original image.

Can you see where the highest impact zone is?
It's the chin area, and with 34.6% of all impacts, it is a whopping 16% more than the second highest impact zone!

The figures themselves answer the question of exactly how much safer full-face helmets are, when compared to open-face helmets:





And make that figure 44.5% more (OUCH!) if your open-face helmet doesn't have a visor:




Image source.

Here's another true story from a bicycle rider (via VintageBMX forums):

''Trey, not that I want to discourage you from getting an open face helmet, but this is what I looked like the day after the last time I wore one. Echo helmet with brand new Haro mouthguard.








The mouthguard basically slid under my chin and my glasses went through my cheek. Mainly, it was just a scraped up face, but I did need 13 stitches to close up a few holes left from my glasses.

I suggest the Full face which, before that wreck, I would never have said.''

A Quick Reminder About Helmets:

  • Helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% in a crash.
  • Helmets are estimated to reduce the likelihood of death in a motorcycle crash by 37%.
  • Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of motorcycle crash deaths.
  • Even when not fatal, debilitating head injuries can mean a lifetime of costly rehabilitation and severe trauma for those involved.
  • Treating severe traumatic brain injuries costs 13 times more than non-brain injuries.
  • Un-helmeted riders are 40% more likely to die from a head injury than someone wearing a helmet.


Useful Helmet Threads:

1. Which Helmet? (Tips on buying a good helmet in post #78)

2. Pictorial: Why you should wear a HELMET

3. Helmets: Facts you must know about their efficacy

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