• Can a $13 Helmet Reduce the Number of Motorcycle Road Deaths?

The FIA seems to think it can

LISTEN 04:10

With the proliferation of delivery bikes on the streets of our towns and cities come a whole heap of problems, not least of which is rider safety, something the riders themselves pay scant regard to. Now, the FIA has developed a new helmet that is super cheap but conforms to current legislation.

FIA Reveals $13 Motorcycle Helmet to try and reduce deaths

Can a $13 Helmet Reduce the Number of Motorcycle Road Deaths?
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The $13 Helmet
Developed by the FIA to help with the appalling road death figures among motorcyclists, especially delivery riders and in developing countries

I don’t know what it’s like in your part of the world, but here in South Africa, motorcycle safety among delivery riders is a bit of a joke. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen riders wearing helmets that have the same protective properties as a flower vase. I’m not sure what they do with them, but sometimes it’s hard to discern the original colour of the helmet, so scratched is it.

The problem is two-fold. Firstly, these riders are not motorcyclists: they are simply doing a job and that job happens to involve riding a motorcycle or scooter. Secondly, they haven’t the money to invest in any riding gear at all, let alone anything that might be brand new. Furthermore, many developing countries have very lax helmet laws, despite all the evidence pointing to the safety benefits of wearing one.

With the proliferation of delivery companies around the world, rider safety is becoming a huge issue and the FIA (Federation Internationale Automobile) has come up with a cost-effective solution.

Can a $13 Helmet Reduce the Number of Motorcycle Road Deaths?
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Jean Todt of the FIA
Todt, President of the FIA, at the launch of the new helmet

While the FIA overseas global motorsport, it is also tasked with improving road safety for all users. While car manufacturers have a pretty good handle on road, vehicle and driver safety, making motorcycles safer is a tricky undertaking and a space in which the FIA feels it can make a difference. And the best place to start is in rider safety equipment.

To that end, the FIA has developed a helmet that is both certified yet affordable. And when we say affordable, then you’d better believe it. The new FIA helmet will be wholesaled for a mere $13. More importantly, it will be comfortable to wear in hot and humid climates. It complies with UN Reg. 22.05, a certification that is not due to be superseded until 2024.

FIA Safety Director Adam Baker, the person responsible for the project, said:

“The President asked us to identify key areas where the work of the Sport division could be exploited for the benefit of road users. The most important projects we have targeting this objective are in the area of road safety… According to the UN, riders of motorcycles are 26 times more likely to die in traffic accidents than passenger car occupants, making that mode of transport a significant contributor to the 1.35 million total fatalities each year on our roads. From this UN data, we can see that the biggest potential for a reduction in fatalities for a given investment of resource is in motorcycle riders, and specifically the adoption of safe helmets. So, this idea of President Todt [FIA president] in terms of all the other things we do for road safety, is arguably the most important and effective way to achieve a significant reduction in the 1.35 million figure.”

Underlining the importance of the issue, Uber Eats has already signed up to the project, rolling out the helmets to its delivery riders.

Can a $13 Helmet Reduce the Number of Motorcycle Road Deaths?
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Why Not Full Face?
Only disappointment is the lack of a chin bar: would it really have added to the cost too much?

This can only be a good move by the FIA. It doesn’t matter how you view delivery riders: they are still riding motorcycles. Maybe it’s not a choice, maybe it’s a necessity but, as far as I’m concerned, they’re still two-wheeled road users and deserving of my respect. Being delivery riders, they probably get shorter shrift from car and truck drivers than those of us who ride for pleasure and, therefore, they are at even more risk. So doesn’t it make sense to do everything we can to help them stay safe?

My only criticism would be that it is a shame they have chosen to not go with a full-face design. Surely putting a chin bar would have added little to the overall price?

What are your thoughts? Would you trust a helmet that cost only $13?

Harry Fisher
Harry Fisher
Motorcycling Contributor
Born and raised in England, he has lived in South Africa with his family since 2002. Harry has owned examples of Triumph, Norton, BSA, MV Agusta, Honda, BMW, Ducati, Harley Davidson, Kawasaki and Moto Morini motorcycles. He regrets selling all of them.  Read full bio
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