Friday, June 22, 2012

8 Take-Aways From Each Side Of The Helmet Law Debate

My late father would become apoplectic at mention of the law mandating the use of seat belts after it was enacted in 1986 where he lived and now in force in every state except New Hampshire for anyone in the front seat and for all passengers in 26 states and the District of Columbia.

So I have a window into the seemingly absurd objections by lobbyists for motorcycle owner organizations to laws in many states, including North Carolina, where I live, requiring the use of DOT-approved helmets, even going so far as to muzzle government-sponsored educational programs.

The battle over helmet laws has been raging since the late 1970s when many began to be rolled back.

Personally, lessons learned in my formal training on how to ride a motorcycle were enough to convince me not only to wear a helmet, but a full-face helmet, since injury to the jaw and face is more prevalent than to the top of the head.

Dad understood the logic of seat belts, he just objected to being “required to use them”  so debating with him about this and a variety of other issues taught me to look behind controversial issues to try to learn why otherwise reasonable people might be contrary to something that seems to be in their own best interest as well as the interests of society.

Here are 8 take-aways from reports for and against helmet laws:

  • Helmet use is estimated to prevent 37% of fatalities among motorcycle operators and 41% of fatalities among passengers.

 

  • There were 8.2 million owned and registered motorcycles in 2010, compared with 4.3 million in 2000,) but the 1.8 fatalities per 1000 vehicles has increased only 0.3 percentage points.

 

 

  • Helmets do not prevent motorcycle crashes:
    • 34% of all motorcycle fatalities involved alcohol making awareness and intervention programs  more effective than helmet laws.

 

    • 25% of all motorcycle fatalities involved invalid licenses making promotion of safety programs and licensing and testing more effective than helmet laws.

 

    • Half of all motorcycle fatalities involve another vehicle and that vast majority of these are the fault of the other driver so motorist awareness programs as well as motorcyclist “conspicuity” programs would be more effective than helmet laws.

 

  • While motorcyclists are as likely to be covered by insurance as other motorists, studies show that insurance doesn’t cover the costs of investigating accidents which studies show average more than $7,000 each.

 

  • Enactments of universal helmet laws have consistently been associated with a 90- to 100-percent increase
    in helmet usage, a 20- to 40-percent decrease in fatalities and fatality rates, and approximately a 67-percent decrease in serious head and brain injuries.

Prior to the most recent recession, the economic impact of motorcycling was nearing $30 billion annually.  Riders on average are over 40 years old, college educated with above average household incomes.

Studies are showing that motorcycle accidents are higher for younger riders, higher for sport bikes than cruisers and most are unrelated to speed.  In my experience, the biggest danger to riding a motorcycle comes from drivers of cars and trucks who are distracted by everything from billboards to putting on make up to texting.

The respective arguments by safety officials and motorcycle organizations all make sense, but rather than obsessing with helmet laws, my overall take-away is a hope that they spend more time listening to each other and mutually prioritizing and working toward solutions that make the most sense.

5 comments:

orlando motorcycle accident attorneys said...

Having the right protective gear while driving a motorcycle can save your life if accident is inevitable. But just be sure that all the gear you will be wearing passed the bureau of quality inspection.

Ryan Longhorn said...

Neglecting these tips may result to injury or accident. If that happens you may consult personal injury attorneys.

Daryl Grimes said...

As a motorcycle injury lawyer in los angeles, I've handled several road accidents which involved motorcycle drivers who doesn't wear a helmet. Statistics may suggest one thing, but based on my personal statistics of clients I've handled, 90% of motorcycle injuries occur to those who do not wear helmets. This may seem to be a small part with no purpose, but they can really save your life.

Toby Jennings said...

Legalizing the use of helmets will be very beneficial especially to all the motorcycle drivers, it'll surely protect from getting any serious injury. I have been seeing a lot of road-related cases in news especially the jackknife accidents and I must say that it's really disturbing it's as if it's very impossible to escape death in those kind of instances that is why, I still think the best way to avoid being hurt and suffering from any road accident it's always better to take some safety measures before traveling.

Toby Jennings said...

Legalizing the use of helmets will be very beneficial especially to all the motorcycle drivers, it'll surely protect from getting any serious injury. I have been seeing a lot of road-related cases in news especially the jackknife accidents and I must say that it's really disturbing it's as if it's very impossible to escape death in those kind of instances that is why, I still think the best way to avoid being hurt and suffering from any road accident it's always better to take some safety measures before traveling.