No Surprise: Novelty Helmets Are Worthless In A Crash

Troy Siahaan
by Troy Siahaan

The story of Suzanne Randa, a 49 year-old mother of four, is a sad one making its way around motorcycle circles on the internet. As CBS News, Randa was riding as a passenger on her fiance’s motorcycle down a California freeway, when the rider somehow lost control and crashed into the highway divider. Randa died instantly, many believe because she was wearing a novelty motorcycle helmet which snapped off upon impact.

The video above explains the rise of the novelty helmet, its utter worthlessness in a crash, and why riders should wear helmets which meet or exceed federal safety standards. The CBS News report was done in conjunction with Fair Warning, which conducted a thorough report on the issue.

Among the highlights: Fair Warning discovered U.S. traffic deaths have actually decreased in recent years, though motorcycle deaths are on the rise. Among the reasons, Fair Warnings says, is that riders aren’t wearing helmets or are wearing novelty helmets instead because of the substantial price difference compared to a helmet which meets government standards. As such, sales of novelty helmets are growing. Not surprisingly, so are the fatalities.

While novelty helmets are sold with disclaimers stating they are not for road use, many are sold at motorcycle shops or online retailers which sell legitimate motorcycle apparel, including D.O.T. approved helmets. Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, is trying to regulate and limit sales of novelty helmets while also encouraging strict enforcement of helmet laws.

Novelty helmets are legal to be sold because they explicitly state they aren’t for motorcycle use. However, that message is not being heard loud enough. In addition to the video above, the Fair Warning reports hurdles NHTSA will face in trying to get legislation through. Fortunately, its authority to regulate novelty helmets appeared bolstered last year by a change in federal law that puts motor vehicle equipment sold “with the apparent purpose” of safeguarding users within its jurisdiction. We’ll be paying close attention to see what progress NHTSA makes in its quest to make sure what happened to Suzanne Randa never happens again.

Troy Siahaan
Troy Siahaan

Troy's been riding motorcycles and writing about them since 2006, getting his start at Rider Magazine. From there, he moved to Sport Rider Magazine before finally landing at in 2011. A lifelong gearhead who didn't fully immerse himself in motorcycles until his teenage years, Troy's interests have always been in technology, performance, and going fast. Naturally, racing was the perfect avenue to combine all three. Troy has been racing nearly as long as he's been riding and has competed at the AMA national level. He's also won multiple club races throughout the country, culminating in a Utah Sport Bike Association championship in 2011. He has been invited as a guest instructor for the Yamaha Champions Riding School, and when he's not out riding, he's either wrenching on bikes or watching MotoGP.

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