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Is it safe to use a helmet that’s been in a crash?

Scratches on your helmet may go deeper than just the surface.

Is it safe to use a helmet that’s been in a crash?

Riding motorcycles offers a plethora of reasons to get out on the open road. Whether it's the sheer fun, the rush of excitement, the camaraderie with fellow riders, or simply a necessity for daily commuting, there's something uniquely thrilling about life on two wheels. But amidst the joy of riding, one critical aspect often takes center stage: safety. At MotoDeal.com.ph, we are staunch advocates for rider safety, emphasizing the importance of gearing up every time you hit the road.

One common question that arises in the realm of rider safety is whether it's safe to continue using a helmet that's been involved in a crash. It's not uncommon for riders to experience what seems like minor accidents, resulting in no more than a few scratches on their helmets. The temptation to continue using such a helmet can be strong, given the potential cost of replacement. However, when it comes to safety, there's a universal consensus among experts: once a helmet has been in a crash, regardless of how seemingly insignificant, it must be replaced and not used again. It might sound like a ploy by helmet manufacturers to boost sales, but there's solid reasoning behind this advice.

Safety should never be compromised, and in the following paragraphs, we'll delve into the compelling logic that supports the notion of replacing a helmet after a crash – no matter how minor it may seem. Let’s take a look at the inner workings of a helmet, and what happens during a crash. Hopefully, after reading this, you’ll think twice about donning a helmet that’s been even in a minor crash. 

How are helmets constructed?

Is it safe to use a helmet that’s been in a crash?

Understanding the anatomy of a helmet is crucial in appreciating why replacing one after a crash is so essential. Helmets are not just a fancy shell on your head; they're more like a well-engineered sandwich, meticulously designed to protect your head in case of an accident. Let's break it down:

Outside: The outer shell is the first line of defense, typically crafted from materials like thermoplastic, fiberglass, carbon fiber, or various composites, depending on your helmet of choice. It's the part that takes the initial impact during a crash and often shows visible damage.

EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) Layer: Just beneath the outer shell lies the EPS layer. High-quality helmets feature a multi-density EPS liner designed to compress upon impact. This compression is critical as it absorbs the energy generated by the crash, preventing it from reaching your head. It's a vital component responsible for saving countless lives every day.

Inner Liner: Finally, we have the inner liner, primarily designed for comfort and noise reduction. This includes cheek pads, which offer cushioning and additional impact absorption. The chin curtain plays a role in keeping things quiet, making your ride more enjoyable. Ultimately, the inner liner ensures that the helmet is not just protective but also comfortable to wear.

So, while it might be tempting to continue using a helmet with minor exterior damage, it's important to remember that the inner layers, particularly the EPS liner, could have already absorbed a significant portion of their protective capability in a previous crash. Safety should always come first when it comes to riding gear.

What happens to a helmet during a crash?

Is it safe to use a helmet that’s been in a crash?

As I mentioned earlier, the inner workings of a helmet can be likened to a sandwich. When you find yourself in a crash, and your head makes contact with any surface, it's akin to compressing that sandwich. The collision between your head and the pavement unleashes compressive forces that push the outer shell, the EPS liner, and the inner liner closer together.

Now, here's the critical part to grasp: even in situations where there's no visible damage – for instance, a spill on soft grass or gentle gravel – the structural integrity of the helmet takes a hit. The EPS liner, while it may seem intact from the outside, may have undergone compression during the impact. Once compressed, it loses its ability to efficiently disperse the impact energy, making it more likely for those forces to transmit directly to your head.

In essence, appearances can be deceiving. A helmet may look pristine, but if it's been involved in any crash, regardless of how seemingly minor, the compressed EPS liner can no longer fulfill its crucial role of safeguarding you from impacts. Safety should always come first, prompting the unequivocal recommendation to replace a helmet after any collision.

Does that mean you can’t use your helmet if you’ve dropped it?

Is it safe to use a helmet that’s been in a crash?

Accidentally dropping your helmet due to clumsiness is a common occurrence, and it doesn't necessarily render the helmet unusable. However, a key factor to consider is whether there was a large or heavy object inside the helmet when it fell.

If your helmet was empty when it took a tumble, the damage is likely to be limited to cosmetic issues on the outer shell. The inner liner should remain undamaged because no compressive forces were applied to it during the fall. In this case, the helmet should still provide adequate protection, and there's no immediate need for replacement.

It's worth noting that some minor cosmetic damage to the outer shell, such as scratches or scuffs, doesn't typically impact the helmet's safety performance. However, if you ever have doubts about the integrity of your helmet after a fall, it's a good idea to have it inspected by a professional or the manufacturer to ensure it meets safety standards and can still provide effective protection in case of an accident. 

It's always best to err on the side of caution

Is it safe to use a helmet that’s been in a crash?

When it comes down to it, if you're still using a helmet that's been involved in an accident, it's time to put safety first and retire it from service. We all want our riding gear to perform at its peak whenever we hit the road. A compromised helmet is simply unacceptable because, without a doubt, it's the single most crucial piece of safety equipment in your kit.

This is also the reason why we strongly discourage buying second-hand helmets. While external damage might appear fixable and inner linings replaceable, it's crucial to understand that EPS foam, the core component responsible for absorbing and dispersing impact energy, cannot be repaired. In most cases, it's an irreplaceable part of the helmet.

When it comes to safety gear, especially your helmet, it's always best to prioritize your well-being. Invest in a new, undamaged helmet to ensure you have the highest level of protection when you're out on the road. Your safety should never be compromised, and that's something we'll always advocate for in the world of motorcycling.

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