DO HELMETS INTERFERE WITH VISION AND HEARING?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently released findings from a study they sponsored to assess the effect of wearing a helmet upon the ability of motorcycle riders (1) to visually detect the presence of vehicles in adjacent lanes before changing lanes, and (2) to detect traffic sounds when operating at normal highway speeds. Predictably, the research supports NHTSA’s push for mandatory helmet laws by attempting to deflate opponents’ argument that helmets may increase a rider’s risk of crashing by interfering with the ability to see and hear surrounding traffic. For example, the vision test showed that “most riders recover the lateral field of view that is lost by wearing a helmet by turning their heads a little farther.” The report went on to say that “only” 4 our of 23 riders did not compensate. That’s 17.4% who experienced vision impairment! Likewise, of course, the hearing test showed that “for any given speed, helmets neither diminished nor enhanced hearing.”
For a copy of The Effects of Motorcycle Helmets on Seeing and Hearing, fax your request to NHTSA at (202) 366-7149.
Taken from: NCOM News & Notes, July 1996