It’s pretty hard to ignore the statistics surrounding helmet use and motorcycle accidents.
Head injuries are the most common cause of motorcycle fatalities, and even when motorcyclists survive a crash, injuries are generally more serious and long-lasting for riders and passengers who weren’t wearing helmets. According to estimates from the US Department of Transportation, wearing a helmet reduces a rider’s chance of dying in a crash by about 37%. A study by the Governor’s Highway Safety Administration also found that 44% of all people fatally injured in a motorcycle accident were not wearing helmets. Additionally, the GHSA found that wearing a helmet saved the lives of 1,829 riders in the course of a year.
With everything we know about helmet safety, it seems like a no-brainer that bikers should be using them. Unfortunately, many bikers are still unwilling to give up the feel of the wind in their hair when they ride. Riders who go helmetless argue that they’re exercising their freedom to choose, and that if they want to increase their odds of being in a fatal accident, it’s their right.
But it’s not just the individual rider who is being affected. If a motorcycle rider offers a ride to a friendand doesn’t have a helmet to offer him or her, then he or she is also at a greater risk for suffering a fatal head injury. Refusing to wear a helmet also sends a message to other riders that helmets are not a part of “true” motorcycle culture,perpetuating the idea that protective equipmentis ultimately optional.
The True Cost of Not Wearing a Helmet
It’s not just motorcycle riders and passengers who are affected by a rider’s failure to wear a helmet. Dr. Lori Terryberry-Spohr, a physician at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Nebraska, told The Economist that she can always tell which motorcycle accident victims weren’t wearing a helmet because they suffer internal bleeding and cell death across large areas of their bodies. Those helmetless riders who actually survive typically rack up about $1.3 million in direct medical expenses. As you might imagine, this far exceeds the insurance coverage that most motorcyclists have. Because of this, taxpayers end up footing about 63% of the bill.
If the loss of human life is not enough of an incentive, more states should be motivated to enact universal helmet laws based on the cost to their taxpayers. However, surprisingly few states have laws that require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet.
States Shun Universal Helmet Laws
Currently, only 19 states and the District of Columbia have universal helmet laws. Three states – Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire – have no helmet laws whatsoever, meaning that even child passengers can ride along without a helmet. Every other state only requires helmets for riders under a certain age, usually 17 or 18. In Florida, riders can shun helmets as long as they’re 21 or older and carry at least $10,000 in insurance.
Some opponents of helmet laws say that they support the idea of wearing helmets, but that riders should come to the decision to wear a helmet on their own, without being forced into it by the government. They say that wearing a helmet is the smart thing to do, and responsible riders will realize that.
Unfortunately, not nearly enough riders are willing to wear helmets if they’re not legally required to. This week’s Daytona Beach Bike Week, one of the largest motorcycle rallies in the country, emphasized that fact. If you look through images of the gathering, it appears that the overwhelming majority of riders in attendance chose not to wear helmets. The event saw a total of four motorcycle accident fatalities, at least two of which involved head injuries to riders who were not wearing helmets.
States Need to Reassess Helmet Laws
The 33 states that do not currently have universal helmet laws should look to the 19 states that do andacknowledge the positive benefits this type of enforcement can have. The CDC has found that states with universal helmet laws have four times the cost savings of states that don’t. While a whopping 64% of riders in states without universal helmet laws choose to ride without helmets, only 12% of riders in states with universal laws go helmetless. As a result, the states with universal laws see fewer serious and fatal motorcycle injuries, which results in lower medical costs and loss of productivity costs.
It’s time that Florida, and all the other states with partial or no helmet laws, push to adopt universal laws. Of course, this change won’t happen overnight, and in the meantime it’s important that riders choose to wear helmets regardless of what state they live in. There may still be situations where riders get into accidents through no fault of their own, but by wearing a helmet, they can give themselves the best possible chance of surviving and recovering.
About the Author: Steven Slootsky is a 1985 graduate of Nova Law School, which means he’s been a practicing Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer for more than 2 decades. He founded the Law Offices of The Injury Law Firm of South Florida in 1991. The Fort Lauderdale-based accident attorney is a member of the Florida Bar, as well as the Federal Bar for the Southern District for the U.S. District Court. During his career as a personal injury lawyer/auto accident compensation attorney, Steven has served as the co-chair of the Workers’ Compensation section for Broward County, Florida. He is also a Bronze member of the Florida Workers Advocates, a former member of the board, and serves as an “Eagle” member of the Florida Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Buy a car? Need minimum liability required. Buy a house? Got to have a homeowners’ policy. Living and breathing? Government says you better have health coverage or else. So why does it seem then that those insurance companies that we hire and pay regular monthly premiums to continue to fight so hard against acting in [..]
In June 2018, a horrific crash was caught on camera near Orlando. In this very dramatic footage, the vehicle is seen drifting into a concrete barrier at the toll plaza on the Florida Turnpike near St. Cloud. The impact ejects one of the four passengers onboard out through the windshield and sends him flying for [..]
If you recently suffered injuries from night out on the town, you know that slip and fall injuries are no joke. People have received millions of dollars in compensation after slipping and falling at a store or a bar. Maybe you want to pursue one of these lawsuits yourself. After all, the medical bills are [..]
If you have recently suffered a personal injury and are currently considering filing a claim, you are likely asking yourself whether the effort will be worth your time. Frankly, the answer to that question depends on what the incident has cost you. In a personal injury case, when a judge or jury finds there is [..]
No turn signals, sudden stops, swerving – driving on the road in Florida can feel like an accident waiting to happen. Even if you’ve lived in the state your whole life, it can be incredibly frustrating to drive here. Worse, the blame is shared between retirees, tourists, and just downright bad drivers. Unfortunately, it appears [..]
As a homeowner, you pay your premium for homeowner’s insurance trusting that your insurer will do right by you in the event that the worst happens. That they will pay out for covered damages. This is known as acting in good faith. Although most insurers operate ethically and meet their obligations to policyholders, it’s also [..]
When Harry Davila and his children first came to us in September of 2018, they were heartbroken and deep in grief. Harry had lost his dear wife Mary, and his children had lost their beloved mother. However, their sorrow not only came from the fact that they lost her to breast cancer earlier that month, [..]
This may be obvious, but if you are at fault in a car crash, you can’t receive compensation from anyone. However, you may be too quick to blame yourself if your brakes failed and caused the crash. There are a number of parties who could potentially be at fault for your car accident, so don’t [..]
Are you traveling with your children over spring break? Use these tips to keep your kids safe while you enjoy your family vacation. Prepping for Your Trip Since a trip to the emergency room is needed in a shocking 25 percent of all family vacations, it’s wise to prepare ahead of time for family safety. [..]
Did your child get a new bike over the holidays? Are they begging you to let them bike to school… but you’re feeling hesitant about it? Your worries are understandable. Florida can be a dangerous place for cyclists, and kids aren’t exactly known for being careful. However, children need to have some sense of autonomy, [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
Car accidents can result in tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. How is it decided who will have to pay for these damages and bills? In Florida, it usually starts with personal injury protection (PIP). If you experience damages that add up to less than [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
School is out, but that doesn’t mean your child has to be stuck at home for the summer with no structure and nothing to do. Summer camps are a great way to keep your child active, supervised, and having fun – while also allowing them to branch out. However, summer camps come with a lot [..]
This law firm helped me with my car accident case and helped me to get the most of the medical benefits that were needed after the accident, and gave me fair and helpful expectations on what I would recieve back for the pain and suffering after the accident.