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Why motorcycle helmet laws increase helmet use

October 27, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Dan Petterson from SMARTER provides great rebuttal: “7 reasons riders should wear a motorcycle helmet”

This is the second in my series about the rebuttal to my blog, 7 reasons every state should pass a motorcycle helmet law, which was inspired by a document that I found on a motorcyclist association website called SMARTER.

A reader named Clay responded on August 30, 2011 with what he called his “rebuttal to your 7 reasons why I should be forced to wear a helmet.”

Dan Petterson, president of SMARTER, was generous enough to respond to Clay’s comment. I’m running the individual points made from my own blog (in green type), and then adding in Clay’s reader comments to it (in blue type), after which I’ve put Mr. Petterson’s rebuttals (purple type) for the next several weeks.

Last week, I blogged about the first comment and rebuttal: Motorcycle helmet laws save lives.

Reason 2 for a helmet law: Motorcycle helmet laws increase use. Studies show that helmet use approaches 100 percent in states with all-rider motorcycle helmet laws. In states without all-rider laws, helmet use was 53 percent in 2002 and only 46 percent in 2005. Age-specific helmet laws are virtually impossible to enforce and there is no evidence that these laws reduce deaths and injuries.

Biker rebuttal: I will accept this as axiomatic since I assume that the majority of riders are law abiding citizens.

More information from SMARTER: The point that Clay seems to miss here is connected to reason No. 1 – helmets are effective is preventing death and reducing injury AND when more riders wear helmets, more riders are provided the protection of an effective helmet. More lives are saved and fewer riders suffer needless injury. Data on what percent of riders wear a DOT compliant helmet (are in fact, as Clay assumes law abiding citizens) can be found on this study: Traffic safety facts: Motorcycle helmet use in 2010. It seems that the number of riders choosing to wear a non-compliant helmet is on the increase in states that require use – now as high as 22 percent – but remains at a steady 8 percent in states that do not require helmets.

I realize when it comes to the subject of helmet laws, things can get very heated, especially with motorcycle enthusiasts who always make the arguments about liberty and the freedom to have the “wind in my hair.” I’ve been a Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer for nearly 20 years. Unfortunately, I have seen from experience what happens when motorcycle owners do not wear helmets. The facts prove that motorcycle helmets save lives.

Steven M. Gursten is partner of Michigan Auto Law and is recognized as one of the nation’s top motorcycle lawyers. 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.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by henskechristine

Related information to protect yourself:

What to do after a motorcycle crash in Michigan

How long do I have to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit?

HB 4936 No-Fault reform extremely “punitive” to motorcyclists’ legal rights

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 (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan motorcycle accident lawyers.

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