Motorcycle Safety: Do Helmets Interfere With Vision And Hearing?

When thinking of motorcycle safety, the first thing that comes to your mind is probably to wear a helmet. On average, riders wearing motorcycle helmets have a 29 percent better chance of surviving a crash than those who don’t wear a helmet.

However, some opponents of mandatory state motorcycle helmet laws argue that helmets may increase a rider’s chance of crashing by interfering with their ability to hear and see surrounding traffic.

To settle this debate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did a study that required fifty motorcyclists of different ages and riding experience. The riders drove their own motorcycles along a designated route.

Vision Test

To test their vision, the riders were asked to switch lanes periodically. Each rider drove the route three times. Once with a full-coverage helmet, once with a partial-coverage helmet, and once without a helmet. The degree of head rotation each rider made was then recorded.

Hearing Test

To test their hearing, when a car signaled to change lanes, the riders would hear this signal and then change lanes. The volume of the sound signal was systematically changed. The minimum sound level for each rider was recorded.

Vision Results

The vision test showed that most riders recovered the vision lost from wearing a helmet by turning their head a little farther. Helmet use did not hamper the riders’ ability to see surrounding traffic nor did it increase the time needed to visually check for oncoming drivers.

Hearing Results

The hearing test showed that there was no significant difference in the riders’ ability to hear the auditory signals. However, there was a noticeable difference in the hearing threshold between the speeds of 30 and 50 mph, this was due to increased wind noise.

Overall, this study shows that the protection helmets provide is much greater than the minor interference they create.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of someone else, call the McMinn Law Firm today for a consultation.