Special Report: Risky Rides
“I had absolutely no idea there was an expiration date on a bicycle helmet,” said Matt Levy, a father of three.
Matt Levy of Wayland wants to make sure his three kids are safe when they ride.
“As a parent, obviously my children's safety is paramount,” said Levy.
The helmets his kids are wearing are only a year or so old. But the family had a garage full of helmets, some dating back to 2005; that's past the point of providing the best protection.
Consumer and safety groups agree, bike helmets have a life of anywhere from three to five years.
“All of these things are guidelines, and five years seems to be a good average,” said Peter Mooney.
Peter Mooney, who co-owns Wheelworks in Belmont, said that after three to five years, the materials inside the helmet begin to break down.
“If it’s subjected to hot dry climate, the Styrofoam material, that protects your head, will dry out and become more brittle. Also then there is also certain things that can attack the foam, these can be things like the shampoo you use, or oils in your skin,” said Mooney.
Those weaknesses can leave your head vulnerable.
Sometimes, the damage is plainly visible, but other times, it's not as evident. That's when it's important to check the manufacturer date on the inside.
“Pretty much every helmet is going to come with a date of manufacture in it,” said Mooney.
7NEWS found helmets past their due date are not just gathering dust in garages, they are on store shelves!
7NEWS checked at over 15 stores that sell bike helmets from small cycle shops to large chain retailers.
One dates back to November of 2003. That means it passed its sell-by date almost two years ago.
There was another one from January 2004, that's over the suggested safety date by at least a year.
Others were found from September of 2005 and October 2005; both for sale, but set to surpass their shelf life in just a month or two.
“I'm actually glad that you pointed this out to me,” said one woman.
What’s more, experts agree, helmets are good for only one crash.
“If you do have an impact with one, you should assume that it’s more than done its job, more than paid for itself,” said Mooney.
It’s a valuable lesson to avoid a risky ride.
(Copyright (c) 2010 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)