Five years after the entry into force of the compulsory use of moped or motorcycle helmet on both urban and interurban roads, the use of this safety element is very widespread. However, its use is greater the longer the journey is made and there are still those who use aesthetic or comfort reasons not to wear it.
The use of a motorcycle helmet has increased considerably in Spain since the entry into force of its mandatory in 1992, to the point that today practically all motorcyclists use it – something more than 96 per 100 – and more the greater the power of the vehicle and longer is the displacement that you intend to do. It is true, however, that this figure is reduced to 86 percent if we talk about who has it properly fastened. Two years ago, in October 1995, the percentage of use was slightly lower, since it was worn by 93 per cent of motorcyclists.
That same positive evolution has also occurred among moped riders. A study carried out for the DGT before it was mandatory to use a motorcycle helmet in these vehicles, in September 1992, indicated that only one out of every three moped drivers and one out of every ten companions (although it is forbidden to moped two people traveling) was wearing it. However, a few months later, immediately after being obliged, the number of moped drivers wearing the helmet had risen to 80 per cent, while half of the passengers also wore it.
Those who wore it did so for safety and because it was mandatory, while the reluctant (young people of 14 and 15 years above all) adduced comfort and aesthetic reasons for not using it. Currently, only one in ten does not wear it.
In addition to the greater information that the users have on the importance of a motorcycle helmet for their own safety, they have also influenced the generalization of their use the new designs of helmets that can now be found in the market and that combine a greater resistance and protection capacity with greater comfort and lightness. Although its quality and its price are linked to the materials with which they are manufactured, there are helmets for all tastes and pockets.
Although most motorcyclists wear helmets, recent studies by the DGT indicate that something more than a tenth of them wear it badly. In addition, one in ten of those who use it has a model that is not suitable for a motorcycle, but uses one for mopeds.
Its use does not vary according to the sex of the driver, but it does depend on the age, since those under 24 and those over 64 carry it less and use it more incorrectly. Equally, it marks the difference between the displacement of the vehicle being driven: the higher the power. greater use of the helmet and more on the road than in urban areas. The distance that is thought to travel is also decisive, since it is carried by 95 per cent of those who are going to travel more than 100 kilometers, but only 8 out of 10 if they are going to travel less than 6. As for the passengers (present the 16 times 100 of the time), 93 percent use it correctly placed. The reason that justifies the widespread use is, according to the user’s opinion, its own security.
Head injuries are the most frequent among motorists. Almost half of those killed in ‘two-wheeler’ accidents in 1996 presented it. The use of the helmet reduces to 50% the possibility of cranial injuries, on the face and the need for hospitalization.
When a motorcyclist has an accident, the ‘body’ that holds the blow is his own body. And the head is the most delicate part and the one that, unfortunately, usually carries the worst part. For that reason, from the primitive leather helmets, which barely protected the first riders more than from the cold, to the current ones, more and more resistant, comfortable and lightweight, the maximum objective of this safety element has always been to protect the head in case of fall or impact.
The head is the most fragile part of the body and the one that suffers the most injuries in the accidents of these vehicles. In 1996, four out of every ten motorcyclists and almost half of the deceased moped suffered head injuries. These begin to be taken as reference measurement to test the new models of a motorcycle helmet that are manufactured today. In fact the new version of the European regulation that regulates the homologation of these elements, and that will come into force next March, introduces the ‘criterion of injury to the head’, analyzing the time that is acting on it the energy that produces an impact suffered by the motorcyclist.
And one of the functions of disgust is to stop the abrupt deceleration suffered by the brain inside the cranial cavity when the head of the motorist suffers a blow, distributing the force of it throughout its spherical surface, absorbing part of the impact energy and progressively slowing the movement of the head to avoid, as far as possible, the brain mass moving.
Legs and arms are the other parts of the body that most often suffer damage. According to data from the DGT, 22 per cent of motorcycle drivers who were seriously injured after an accident had injuries to the lower or upper extremities. This situation is further aggravated in the case of mopeds: 41 per cent of users, both drivers and passengers (which is forbidden to carry), with injuries of severe prognosis suffered damage to arms and legs, a figure even greater than that of injured head.