A History of Motorcycle Helmets in the U.S.
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A History of Motorcycle Helmets in the U.S.

Thursday, June 08, 2017By Richard Alexander

The faster we move, the more careful we have to be. Transportation has always been dangerous, and now with vehicle speeds getting higher and higher, safety becomes even more important. One of the most dangerous modes of transportation is motorcycles. With no harnesses or enclosures, motorcyclists' safety is a huge concern with a rich history behind it.

Two years after the end of the Civil War, the first motorcycle was created by Sylvester Roper. He outfitted a bike with a steam engine, creating what he called a steam velocipede. This was the first incarnation of the modern motorcycle. It was also the cause of the first motorcycle death. Roper held an exhibition showing off the speed of his steam velocipede. He reached speeds of 40 mph before he crashed and was killed.

Since then, the need for motorcycle safety was widely known, but that didn’t stop soaring production rates. Around 1905, companies started producing motorcycles that used gas engines. Because of the World Wars, orders flooded in for motorcycles for troopers. Thanks to this huge boom in business, motorcycles for consumer use skyrocketed, and motorcycles became an American icon.

Reports of serious and fatal brain injuries resulting from motorcycle use started surfacing in the 1920s, but little was known about brain trauma at that time. The first person who studied brain injuries due to motorcycle accidents and the effect that helmets had on the injuries was Hugh Caims. Caims was an understudy of Harvey Cushing, known as the father of neurosurgery. Caims' studies showed that 90 percent of motorcycle crashes at the time were fatal.

Even though helmets have been in use even for decades, the first helmet designed specifically for motorcycle use was patented in 1953. Over the following years, helmet use on motorcycles increased, and motorcycle related fatalities declined. Later on, laws were introduced prohibiting the use of a motorcycle without a helmet due to the threat of loss of federal funding, but many states later repealed their laws.

If you or someone you know has been in a motorcycle crash, contact Alexander Law Group, LLP. Call 888.777.1776 right now, for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online. Our expert team of attorneys will work hard to give you the best representation possible.

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