Date: Wed, 19 Feb 1997 (quig)

Subject:Motorcycle helmet safety for kids?

Mr. Syner,

I am interested in knowing at what age (or body weight) it is considered more safe than sorry (to the neck) for a child to wear a 3 lb. motorcycle helmet?

Working on the theory that it is not safe to shake a baby because their neck will break, we are interested on how old that baby must be (or what body weight) to accommodate the purported safety benefits of a motorcycle helmet that complies with FMVSS 218 before the threat to the neck, caused by an added 3 or more pounds of additional stress on the neck, is overcome?

I picked 3 lbs. because that is the average weight of what most uninformed consumers generally consider the "safest" helmet -- the full-face motorcycle helmet. (The amount of force of such helmets at moving speeds is substantially greater than the actual weight of the static helmet, but that is not part of this request because we figure that you have incorporated that into your findings anyway.) I just want to know the basics of NHTSA's recommendations in this regard, and on what those recommendations are founded.

Thank you,


Richard J. Quigley
Sr. Deputy Director
Helmet Law Defense League

NHTSA Reply...

NHTSA logo NHTSA address

March 20, 1997

Mr. Richard J. Quigley, Sr.
Deputy Director
Helmet Law Defense League

Dear Mr. Quigley:

This is in response to your recent e-mail to Joey Synder concerning motorcycle helmet safety for children. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218, Motorcycle Helmets, specifies performance requirements for all sizes of helmets that are sold on the U. S. market. The standard does not differentiate between the ages of helmet users. Consequently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not studied the effects of the weight of the helmet on potential neck injury in relation to the age of helmet users.

I hope this information will be helpful to you. If I can be of further assistance, please contact me or William Liu at (202) 366-4923.


George Mouchahior
Acting Chief, Special Vehicles and Systems Division

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