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The Impact of Motorcycle Helmets on Riders and the Public

Friday, June 09, 2017By Richard Alexander

There’s an ongoing dispute in American society about the value of motorcycle helmets. Some believe that all motorcyclists should be required by law to wear helmets, while others believe this should remain a matter of personal choice.

One of the latest weigh-ins on the subject was published in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine. The focus of the article was on the history of motorcycle helmet laws in the U.S., as well as the public impact of helmet use. You may read more about the history portion of the article in our last blog.

Helmets were first patented in 1953, but it wasn’t until 1967 that their use started to become mandatory. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) issued regulations that would withhold federal transportation funding from states that didn’t pass a mandatory helmet law. As you might imagine, this strong incentive worked. Within a few short years, only three states refused to pass such a law.

With near-universal mandatory helmet laws in the states, Congress decided to stop requiring helmet use at the federal level. In two short years, over one-half of the states repealed their laws under public pressure from the “individual choice” side of the ongoing helmet debate.

Through different types of administrations, helmet advocates and opponents continue to collide. Regardless, the positive public health impact of helmets cannot be denied.

Medical studies show that motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets are much more likely to be severely injured. As a result, their immediate medical treatment tends to be more expensive and they are more likely to have permanent injuries that require public support, such as disability benefits and Medicaid costs. More severe injuries also increase costs borne by private insurers, which are ultimately paid by policyholders in the form of increased premiums.

Between 4,000 and 5,000 motorcyclists die every year, and thousands more are injured. Helmets are a sure-fire way to reduce personal injuries and to reduce the impact of devastating injuries on families and others. Let’s hope that other states follow California’s lead in maintaining or passing mandatory helmet laws.

If you or someone you know suffered a serious injury in a motorcycle crash, please contact Alexander Law Group, LLP immediately to discuss your rights. Call 888.777.1776 right now, for a free, confidential, and personal consultation with one of our attorneys or contact us online.

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