by Bill Gannon

It's a marvelous communicative age that we live in where information is available to you with the click of a button over the internet.  A wealth of information is available on most every subject, especially motorcycling.

In a world where some individuals hold positions in bureaucracies, in many cases with little more experience than being appointed for being a good political campaign worker, citizen's behavior and apparel can become mandated by these bureaucrats who believe they know what's best for you. Whether you like it or not.  Whether it's true or not.  Such is the case with the safety nazi's that continue to support mandated crash helmet use.

In a world of mandated behavior and mandated apparel, it becomes easier for manufacturers to slack off on the quality of products.  In the mandated world it's even easier for the safety nannies to slack off on requiring minimum quality standards.

Thus we have learned via internet access that crash helmets for motorcyclists are failing testing at an alarming rate and the bureaucrats, who insist upon mandating crash helmet use by motorcyclists, are doing nothing about it.

According to compliance testing results posted on the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) Website, helmet standard compliance tests show a failure rate of 64% of all helmets tested since 1994.  NHTSA is the safety arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) who are the chief proponents of mandated crash helmet use.

NHTSA has earned a reputation over many years for flawed and inconsistent data. The information contained on their website continues to support that reputation.  In one area of the website we find annual testing beginning in 1994 and each year through 1998.  The total amount of helmets tested in that listing equals 615.  Yet, in another area of the website we find cumulative testing results from 1994 through
1999 and the total amount of helmets tested in that listing equals 882. Yet that list shows only 39 helmets tested in 1999.  So one must ask NHTSA where the extra 228 test results are.  Don't expect a straight

Still the bottom line remains the same, 64% of all helmets tested failed. These are all types and sizes of helmets.  They were three-quarter helmets, full-face helmets, full helmets, even police helmets.  Did you know that?

Further analysis proves even more questionable factors about NHTSA's data collecting.  Looking at the data on an annual basis we find that in 1994, 199 helmets were tested and 147 or 74% failed.  Clearly the testing results did not look good for the so-called "protective headgear".  

In 1995, 168 helmets were tested and 126 or 75% failed.  Even worse! Protective headgear hardly protecting.  It doesn't look very good for the safety nazi's precious validity about helmet mandates.  

In 1996, 167 helmets were tested and 116 or 69% failed.  A little better, but hardly close to acceptable.  What could NHTSA do to turn the data around in their favor?

True to their reputation for statistical manipulation they came up with a plan--- test fewer helmets.  Perhaps that would turn the data around in their favor.  So in 1996 they dramatically reduced the amount of helmets tested from 167 in 1996 down to 41 helmets tested in 1997.  The results:
21 out the helmets failed.  51%!  Their strategy did lower the amount of failures, but it was still more than half and still highly unacceptable.

In 1998 they tested 40 helmets and only 19 failed or 48%.  Finally they got the failure rate below 50%.  But still the rate is highly unacceptable.   And the average for the total amount of helmets failing during those years is 64%.  

Would your boss find that an acceptable success rate to keep you on the job?  Would your math teacher ever pass you with those grades? Would your boss or math teacher be able to see through such blatant statistical manipulation (or as my math teacher called it--- cheating)? So why would a state's legislature or highway safety bureau continue to want to pass helmet laws given such a failure rate?

Obviously the acceptable failure rate for safety equipment should be less than 5%.  It is with other mandated equipment, yet they aren't too concerned about "protective headgear" while crying about social burden with respect to the head injuries of motorcyclists.  Perhaps they finally figured out that 3 pounds of plastic helmets really don't make a difference in preventing head injuries and fatalities.

Until the internet posting, how many of us were aware of this disgraceful helmet testing failure rate?  Not I and I consider myself pretty current on the topic of helmet laws.  How many of you reading this knows if your helmets have passed or failed?  Did NHTSA make a priority of giving us this information?  After all, this isn't just a few helmets.   IT'S 64%!!!!!!!!

It gets worse.  Pursuant to sections 151-159 of the National Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 1411-1419), if helmets are determined not to conform to all the requirements of the standard, the manufacturer is liable to notify
owners of the noncompliance via a recall notice.  The manufacturer must remedy the noncompliance without charge to the consumer.  In addition, the helmet manufacturer would be liable for a civil penalty of up to
$1,000 for each non-complying helmet it manufactured, pursuant to section 109 of the Safety Act (15 U.S.C. 1398).   NHTSA is responsible for enforcing the "Recall Notice" provision and posting such recalls for consumer notification. So we surf over to the area of NHTSA's website entitled "Recall Notices".  Wanting to be informed and safe consumers, we begin looking for recall notices for 565 helmets that the site shows failed testing.  Don't strain your eyes.  There are NO Recalls listed for any helmets on that website!!!!  Is it any wonder that the U.S. Congress passed a highway bill including language that forbids NHTSA from going into individual states and lobbying for mandated helmet laws.  NHTSA's credibility is down the toilet where it should be as far as Congress is concerned.

The bottom line here is that a cruel hoax is being played on motorcycling consumers by Federal and state bureaucracies.  Helmet compliance testing appears to be a joke, indeed a hoax!