Owning and riding a motorcycle could save you a lot of money in gasoline, but if you’re not careful, it could cost you your life.
Over the last few months, southern Nevada has seen a spike in the number of motorcyclists killed on the roads. So far this year, North Las Vegas has had four motorcycle fatalities while Las Vegas has had six, matching their total number from last year.
While there is not one specific problem, police say they are seeing a trend among riders. Many are opting for novelty helmets — headgear that doesn’t contain much padding.
Riders say they’re choosing image and comfort over safety.
“The weight of them, especially on long rides, it’s a lot of weight and putting pressure down on their neck and not only that but when it gets to 120 degrees out here, it’s hot and the novelty is a lot cooler. You don’t have as much bulk,” said Cherllyn Simpson with Leather Headquarters.
Leather Headquarters sells novelty helmets and says they sell more novelty helmets than the Department of Transportation approved helmets. However, in Nevada, you must wear a helmet that is DOT approved.
Harley Davidson of Las Vegas says they don’t even sell helmets that haven’t been approved.
There was a major motorcycle accident in North Las Vegas on Friday involving two bikes — one was a sport bike and the other a Harley. The man on the sport bike was wearing a full helmet walked away with no major injuries, while the man on the Harley who was wearing a novelty helmet is still in critical condition.
The DOT helmets offer much more padding inside while the novelty helmets are more of a shell.
Dr. Dale Carrison with University Medical Center says novelty helmets are just as dangerous as not wearing one at all.
“I’ve seen novelty helmets where part of the helmet is embedded in their brain from being hit. Because it’s a novelty helmet, it didn’t stand up for the G’s. It wasn’t approved, wasn’t padded. Nobody has every tested novelty helmet to see what it would stand up for,” he said.
Nevada is one of a several states in the U.S. that makes it mandatory to wear a helmet. Some riders have tried to get lawmakers to throw the law out, but have not been successful.