by Jeff Dean
(Reprinted with Permission)

Ask 1.2-million-mile BMW rider Dave Swisher, of Bowling Green, Virginia. That's his helmet after he suffered a crash in West Virginia. Dave came out of it just fine—thanks to his full-face helmet. No facial reconstruction was needed. In fact, because Dave was wearing full gear, he was able to ride home!

What would have happened had he been wearing a three-quarter helmet or, worse yet, a “shorty?”

The diagrams above show the impact areas on crash-involved motorcycle helmets. (Source: Dietmar Otte, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Abteilung Verkehrsunfallforschung, Germany.) Note that 35% of all crashes showed major impact on the chin-bar area. This means that if you ride with an open-face helmet, you are accepting only 65% of the protection that could be available to your head.

If you ride with a shorty or half helmet, you are accepting only 39% of the protection you could obtain. You are literally throwing away 61% of the protection you would have had had you chosen a full-face helmet.

And, of course, if you ride wearing a “novelty” helmet or no helmet at all then you have none of the protection you could have chosen.

The choice is yours.

Poster prepared by MSF-certified Chief Instructor and RiderCoach Trainer Jeff Dean — E-mail: