The SHARP safety rating scheme is a hugely valuable and useful development which rates motorcycle helmets in terms of their safety for use. The scheme has been studied for its effectiveness by TRL on behalf of the Department for Transport and it has found that the scheme is very important and useful for consumers but it needs more promotion and there needs to be an improvement of the levels of knowledge and awareness of the scheme for it to have the full impact it can have.
The SHARP safety helmet assessment and rating scheme has been designed by experts to help consumers make the best, most informed choice when choosing their helmet. To date they have rated 359 different helmets, with many further helmets in the test programme and being rated as we speak.
The study carried out by TRL took in the opinions of 573 motorcycle helmet consumers. It found that 40% of all the consumers who took part re actually unaware of the scheme at all, which is a clear indicator that it needs better promotion. However, 90% of those who had heard of the scheme considered it either a very or quite important factor in their purchasing choice when looking at helmets.
All helmets on sale in the UK must meet minimum UK safety standards in order to be legally sold but the SHARP rating system is non-compulsory. Manufacturers of helmets as well as retailers and distributors show great respect for the scheme and you will regularly find helmets proudly advertising their high SHARP rating but this doesn’t seem to have the same impact on consumers. Some consumers surveyed expressed the view that the SHARP rating was not a necessary consideration, mainly because of the initial fact stated, that there is minimum safety requirement for all helmets on sale.
There is also a common view amongst the helmet industry as well as consumers, that the time it takes for a helmet to receive a SHARP rating is too long and therefore helmets are sold without the rating.
The report concluded that more work is required to ensure full understanding of the scheme and what it does for consumers as well as promotion of the scheme to boost consumer awareness, in the hope that this will change their attitudes to the scheme. There also needs to be a concerted effort to work with manufacturers to speed up the testing process.
Motorcyclist Road Traffic Accidents
The risk to motorcyclists on the road is high. Government statistics show that motorcyclists are 38 times more like to be involved in a road traffic accident and with injuries to the head and neck high upon the danger list, it is important a tested and fully safe helmet is worn.
The SHARP scheme gives real clear indication of exactly how much protection a helmet will provide in a collision and therefore helps making the choice of helmet a little easier.