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The History of Motorcycle Helmets

  09/12/2013 at 15:02 pm

The History of Motorcycle Helmets

September 12, 2013

The History of Motorcycle Helmets
 
It’s a known fact that the most important piece of safety  equipment is your helmet. And although its mandated use sparks debate, there is  no questioning that helmets save lives. But helmet technology has come a very  long way over the years, and helmets were not always as safe as they are today.  Furthermore, helmet laws have evolved as more research has emerged supporting  the importance of a helmet’s role in rider safety.
 
Lawrence of Arabia  and the Invention of the Crash Helmet
T.E. Lawrence was a very famous and highly decorated British soldier who fought during WWI. His military career and life were captured in  his own words and still read and studied today in the form of his writings. A  film about his time in WWI was released in 1962 (Lawrence of Arabia), further  cementing his place in the chronicles of history. But as decorated and beloved  as he was, he was not immortal. He died from head injuries at the age of 46  after crashing his motorbike, a Brough Superior SS100.

His death was mourned by  many, including the neurosurgeon who tended to him, Dr. Hugh Cairns. Cairns was  so deeply affected by the loss of Lawrence, that he was inspired to research  ways to protect motorcyclists’ heads in the event of a crash.

The Evolution of the  Helmet
Another man also came up with the idea for a motorcycle  helmet. Professor C.F. Lombard of the University of Southern California  developed and patented a helmet that had an internal layer intended to absorb  and disperse the shock of impact. However, early helmet models were  ineffective. It would take decades of research in materials and design to make  helmets work.

The first enhancements to the early helmet designs related  to the helmet’s shape and the method of securing it to one’s head. As materials  improved and became lighter, more layers were added to increase the strength  and durability of the helmets. Furthermore, advancements in computer testing  made it easier for helmet manufacturers to test helmet quality and  effectiveness in a lab setting.

As technology and materials production continues to improve,  so do helmets. In facts, helmets have become so effective and important when  saving lives, that many states actually mandate their use while riding.

The History of Helmet  Laws
As research emerged in the early 60’s about the  effectiveness and enhanced safety of helmet usage, the American government took major steps to lower the number of motorcycle deaths. In 1966, The Highway  Safety Act was passed. This required all states to mandate the use of helmets  if they wanted to receive federal funding for highways. That same year marked  the formation of the American National Safety Standard for Motorcycle Helmets,  an organization that led the way for standards in helmet manufacturing.
In 1968, the great helmet debate officially began when  Michigan repealed its helmet law. This started a domino effect that led to the  states lobbying congress to stop financially penalizing states with no helmet  laws in 1976.

Helmet laws are still controversial, but only three states  have no laws governing the use of helmets while riding: Illinois, Iowa, and New  Hampshire.

Helmets at Eagle  Leather
Did you know that Eagle Leather has the largest selection of  motorcycle helmets in the Pacific Northwest? It’s true! Save up to $100 on your  next helmet purchase by downloading this coupon!

Sources:
http://www.thehistoryof.net/the-history-of-motorcycle-helmets.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorcycle_helmet#Origins

By Eagle Leather