Helmet on a motorcycle: what is it for?


It is known that the use of helmet for riding a motorcycle or a moped is compulsory according to the National Traffic Law. However, many people don’t use it. The obligation of using helmet seems logical if you take into account that neither motorcycles nor mopeds have a bodywork that can work as a defence in case of crash or overturn, and that only the loss of equilibrium in the motorcycle could cause a hit of the head against the hard ground. And the head is not as hard as the ground.


However, the most recent measurements of helmet use carried out by Luchemos por la Vida in the city of Buenos Aires, on March 2012, show that 21% of the motorcyclists or moped riders don’t use it. And partial measurements in Gran Buenos Aires and localities of the interior of the country show that people use it even a lot less.

Why must we use helmet?

Helmets save lives because they prevent or soften hits and injuries in the head which can be devastating and cause disabilities. Motorcyclists that don´t use a helmet are in much more risk of dying or being permanent injured. The Government Accountability Office of the United States (GAO) has studied and proved that:

  • The mortality rate of the motorcyclists that use the helmet is 73% lower than the mortality rate of the motorcyclists who don’t use it.
  • Motorcyclists who use the helmet have up to 85% less serious injuries than the ones who don’t use it.

What happens to your head in a crash?

The helmet is the main protection when you ride a motorcycle, a moped or a bike. Everybody have listened to it but some of them don’t believe it and are reluctant to use it. In order to understand how useful this element is, there is nothing better than understanding what happens when somebody’s head is hit in an accident.

The mechanism of the injuries

When a vehicle is involved in a crash, the driver usually falls down. If his/her head hits an object, such as the ground, an injury for direct contact or impact is produced. But, besides, the movement that the body, including the head, had when the person was riding the vehicle stops abruptly, while the brain keeps on moving inside the cranium in the direction of the body movement and, after crashing against the internal wall of the cranium, is propelled in the opposite direction. This kind of internal impact can cause a little brain injury or such a serious injury that can cause death.
There are two kinds of injuries in the head: open or close, that is, with open wounds or not. In the first case, a fracture or sinking of the cranium is caused and it can bring about serious brain injuries. In the case of close wounds, injuries are produced when the brain is shaken inside the cranium. Most of the brain injuries are of this kind. And they can be fatal.