Statistics indicate there are over 4 million registered motorcycles in the US. Countless others remain unregistered. Some riders use motorcycles as a cost effective, inexpensive means of daily transportation. Others enjoy riding as a recreational activity or as a sport. Over the last decade the incidents of fatalities and injuries associated with motorcycle use has exponentially risen.
An increase in the quantity of riders in combination with the number of miles ridden on a motorcycle by riders increases the risk of injury or fatality. Proponents of appropriate motorcycle helmets believe the number and severity of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) incurred by riders during a collision decreases dramatically when individuals wear helmets.
Research indicates helmet use dramatically reduces the number and severity of TBI. According to the US General Accounting Office, DOT approved helmets reduce the number of head injuries by 73% and the risk of serious or critical head injury dramatically decreases by 85%.
While many riders disbelieve the effectiveness of protective headgear and advocate freedom of choice concerning helmet use, numerous reports denote otherwise. Beginning in 2001, some states repealed helmet laws at the insistence of riders, but subsequent data shows startling results.
The state of Arkansas experienced more than a 29% increase in motorcycle fatalities. Kentucky cyclist injuries increased by greater than 17%, and fatalities rose by more than 37%. Louisiana motorcycle injuries increased by more than 20.6% and fatalities increased by more than 75%. Texas reports reveal fatalities increased by more than 37%.
The high court determined helmet laws are constitutional as hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds annually provide care for uninsured or underinsured motorcyclists. Twenty states currently have mandatory helmet laws applying to all motorcycle riders.
Nineteen states require helmets be worn by all riders under the age of 18. Seven states require riders wear helmets if the rider is under the age of 21; the operator has been licensed less than a year, or does not have personal health insurance. Four states have no mandatory helmet laws.
DOT Approved Helmets
Though many retailers offer various designs and styles of motorcycle helmets, not all are safety approved. The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 requires a helmet contain specific features in order to acquire approval. Helmets meeting the requirements bear a DOT sticker.
The liner must contain at least 1 inch of thick foam padding. The device must include chin and face protection with sturdy chinstraps and rivets or chin bars. The helmet must weigh at least 3 pounds and cannot contain any external protrusion in excess of 0.10 of an inch. In addition, safety specialists conclude white or brightly colored helmets are more readily visible to other persons than dark or black helmets.
If you or someone you love has suffered a traumatic brain injury because of a motorcycle injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact our office for a free case evaluation and free information about your legal rights.