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7 reasons every state should pass a motorcycle helmet law requirement

Michigan motorcycle attorney lists reasons for mandated motorcycle helmets

As the Republican Michigan Legislature bullies its way to repealing our motorcycle helmet law requirement, I thought I’d give my readers and the public more reasons to WEAR YOUR HELMETS!

Below are the top 7 reasons why every state should pass an all-rider motorcycle helmet law. This week, I found this list on the SMARTER website after talking to Dan Petterson, SMARTER president. It’s a great resource for motorcyclist safety information and strategies to reduce the risk of being injured in a crash riding motorcycles. The statistics on the list are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Fatal Analysis Reporting System, 2005; Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

1. Motorcycle helmet laws save lives:
Death rates from head injuries, such as traumatic brain injury, are twice as high among motorcyclists in states without all-rider helmet laws. And motorcycle helmets are 37 percent effective in preventing motorcyclist deaths and 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.

2. Helmet laws increase helmet use:
Studies show that helmet use approaches 100 percent in states with all-rider motorcycle helmet laws. Age specific helmet laws are virtually impossible to enforce, and there’s NO EVIDENCE that these laws reduce motorcycle fatalities and injuries.

3. Fiscal responsibility:
Riders without helmets have higher health care costs as a result of their crash injuries. As a motorcycle lawyer who has probably helped more bikers injured in motorcycle crashes than any other lawyer in Michigan over the past 17 years, I can say that injuries for motorcyclists who are injured without helmets are always almost catastrophic, and usually include traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries. And nearly half of these motorcycle accident victims do not have private insurance. The financial burden for treatment and care of uninsured motorcycle crash victims is then placed on the government and taxpayers. For instance, in 2005, Maryland estimated that a repeal of its all-rider helmet law would increase Medicaid expenditures by $1.2 million in the first year and up to $1.5 million each year after.

4. Fatalities and injuries from motorcycle accidents are climbing:
Motorcycle fatalities are at their highest level in 20 years, and now account for more than 10 percent of all annual fatalities, even though motorcycles make up less than 2 percent of all registered vehicles and only .4 percent of all vehicle miles traveled. In Michigan, the problem is even worse: Michigan motorcycle accident deaths have increased by 21 percent.

5. The public overwhelmingly supports helmet laws: According to a motor vehicle occupant survey conducted by the NHTSA, 81 percent reported that they favored mandatory helmet use laws for motorcyclists. A recent Lou Harris poll yielded the same results.

6. Alternatives are costly and ineffective:
There is no scientific evidence that motorcycle rider training can reduce crash risk and is an adequate substitute for an all-rider helmet law. A review by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation concluded that there’s “no compelling evidence that rider training is associated with reductions in collision.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also supports these claims.

7. Helmets do not increase the likelihood of spinal injury or crash: Critics of helmet laws often cite a highly disputed study by J.P. Goldstein indicating the added weight of helmets causes neck and spinal injuries during crashes. More than a dozen peer-reviewed medical studies have refuted this claim. A student reported in the Annals of Emergency Medicine analyzed 1,153 motorcycle accidents in four states and determined that helmets reduce head injures without an increase occurrence of spinal injuries. Studies show that helmets do not restrict vision, interfere with hearing, or cause heat discomfort.

Steven M. Gursten heads Michigan Auto Law. He received the highest motorcycle accident settlement in Michigan last year, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Steve has spoken at trial seminars on motorcycle lawsuits, and is available for comment on Michigan’s motorcycle helmet laws.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by cogdogblog

Related information to protect yourself:

Motorcyclist dies of TBI in motorcycle helmet law protest

Top 3 most common motorcycle crashes and what insurance will cover you

Michigan motorcycle accident law FAQs

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our motorcycle attorneys.

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