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Do more comfortable motorcycle helmets mean more riders with helmets, less preventable deaths & injuries?

June 28, 2014 by Steven M. Gursten

University of Michigan student aims to make motorcyclists more comfortable with air-conditioning-like device for helmets

Critics of motorcycle helmet laws often say they are uncomfortable and hot, which leads to more accidents. This is despite studies that show motorcycle helmets do not cause heat discomfort – or restrict vision and interfere with hearing.

Nevertheless, if riders feel that helmets are uncomfortable, they will be more inclined not to wear them. And helmets save lives (and brains).  So, in an attempt to have the best of both worlds, University of Michigan student Zachary Hwang has launched his own start up called FrostGear to produce cooling technology for motorcycle helmets.

Hwang, an experienced motorcycle rider, says his experience in the summer has been less than comfortable. So he developed a small device that attaches to a motorcycle helmet and air conditions the inside, therefore, cooling off the rest of the body, according to Hwang in a recent article,  “U-M student-led FrostGear develops motorcycle helmet cooling tech.”

The start up is currently working on prototypes of its technology, leveraging resources from Ann Arbor SPARK and the University of Michigan’s Center for Entrepreneurship. It has applied for a patent and aims to have a product for trade shows ready by December.

As a motorcycle safety advocate (and a  University of Michigan alum), I’m happy to see this technology and I wish Zachary Hwang all the luck on this venture. In my opinion, any efforts aimed at motorcycle safety and making motorcyclists more comfortable are preferable to ditching the helmet.

I wrote a blog post on 7 reasons every state should adopt a motorcycle helmet law. One of the reasons is that helmets do not cause heat discomfort that affects safety. Here’s an exchange our attorneys had with a biker reader of ours who took issue with our stance:

“I don’t give a damn how well ventilated your helmet is, you’re uncomfortably warm if you’re wearing it in 90 degree or above weather.”

We responded:

“Regarding heat discomfort – the statement is the helmet does not cause heat discomfort. This does not mean that in 90 degrees or above a person is not uncomfortably warm, as Clay says; it is simply that the helmet is not the cause.”

The cause is that it is hot.

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