Motorbike safety over the years


No-one should ever cut corners with regard to motorbike safety. Without exception – whether riding casually or competing in Motocross events – every precaution should be taken to ensure that you are safe as possible when riding. This obviously means wearing the appropriate gear and obeying the rules of the Highway Code.

There has been no greater invention with regard to such safety concerns than the motorcycle crash helmet, which experts say has reduced deaths in motorcycle accidents by as much as 37 per cent. First conceived by eminent neurosurgeon Sir Hugh Cairns in 1935, the crash helmet has come on in leaps and bounds in the near-seventy years since.

Invention and Early Helmets

Following the death of the famous T.E. Lawrence from a motorcycle accident at only 46 years old, Sir Hugh Cairns’ interest in the nature of the relationship between head trauma arising from motorcycle accidents and death was sparked, leading to his extensive research on the subject. It was this research carried out by Cairns that led to calls for a form of head protection for motorcyclists – and so the first incarnation of the crash helmet was born.

Since this time crash helmets have changed beyond all recognition, and it was two professors at the University of Southern California, Lombard and Roth, who developed a helmet that effectively absorbed the shock of impact in order to prevent blunt force trauma. The research carried out at USC provided the basis for the modern crash helmet.

Safety and Technology Advancements

Despite the fact that Lombard and Roth’s design did in fact save many lives, many changes have been made since the 1950s, necessitated by the increasing speeds and technology used in building motorcycles.

As such, there are now five different types of helmet. These are known as: ‘full-face’, ‘modular’, ‘open-face’, ‘motocross’ and ‘half-helmet’. The full-face variant is considered the most effective for general use, although it is not considered appropriate for some forms of racing, which is why an off-road (motocross) version has been developed.

The half-face is the variant developed by Lombard and Roth and represents the minimum legal requirement for crash helmets.

Lisa Buckley, Marketing Manager at motorbike insurance company Carole Nash said: “the motorcycle helmet is without a doubt the most essential piece of kit when riding the roads. Since its invention the helmet has helped to save many lives, and will continue to do so thanks to the amount of research being carried out into the effects of head trauma.”