April 21 2011.

More than 20 new motorcycle helmet safety ratings were published today by Road Safety Minister Mike Penning ahead of the extended bank holiday.

Today's ratings take the total number of helmets rated by SHARP - the Safety Helmet Assessment and Ratings Programme - to 247.

Mike Penning said: "Many of us will be making the most of the extended bank holiday period to take our bikes out and - hopefully - take advantage of some good weather.

"I would urge anyone thinking about buying a new helmet ahead of the weekend to check out the SHARP website before making their decision. A well fitted helmet with a high SHARP rating will provide you with the best possible protection in the event of an accident so it's well worth checking the advice on the site before you buy."

All helmets must meet minimum legal safety standards but the SHARP scheme uses a wider range of tests to provide riders with more information on how much protection a helmet can provide in a crash. The objective advice, which includes important guidance on how to select a good fitting helmet, will help riders to choose the safest helmet suitable for them.

The SHARP tests - which award ratings of between one and five stars - show that the safety performance of helmets can vary by as much as 70%. With helmets across a wide price range scoring highly all riders should be able to find a high performing helmet in a size and style that fits them and at a price they want to pay.

The SHARP website was re-developed in response to feedback from motorcyclists and the motorcycle industry and has increased in popularity since it was re-launched last summer. The SHARP website can be found at: