At first glance, it appears that motorcycle helmets would significantly help if a crash occurred, the same way a football helmet protects the player during a high-speed tackle. There's not much other protection on a motorcycle -- it's nothing like a car, which has crumple zones, a protective cage, airbags, and much more -- so the helmet is one of the main things keeping a rider from being seriously injured.
However, there's an oft-repeated rumor about motorcycle helmets, saying they do more harm than good. The basic idea is that your neck and spine are more likely to be injured because of the weight of the helmet itself, which is more weight than those areas are accustomed to supporting.
This isn't true. Experts regard it as a myth and some have even called it "wildly untrue."
They note that these helmets are made to absorb some of the impact during the crash, whether that impact is with the ground, another vehicle, or both. This takes stress off of your spine and your neck. The statistics back this up, as those with helmets see "far fewer" significant injuries to the spinal column than those without.
When considering safety gear, it's very important to do your research. Understand the gear you're buying and how it works. Know what is a myth and what is fact. Look into how each piece of equipment really protects you and makes riding far safer.
If you are hurt in a wreck caused by another driver -- something that is very possible, even with the best gear in the world -- you also need to look into your options to seek financial compensation.
Source: Esurance, "Motorcycle helmet facts versus fiction: debunking common myths," accessed Feb. 15, 2017