Though most people aren’t riding motorcycles at this time of year, there’s never a wrong time to discuss motorcycle safety. Most people who ride motorbikes understand that their risk of injury or dying in a crash with another vehicle increases over someone who may be driving a car. For that reason, they probably take care to follow most, if not all, safety guidelines for motorcyclists.
However, Pennsylvania differs from others as it does not have a universal motorcycle helmet law. In other states, such laws say that all occupants on a motorcycle must wear helmets. Here, the law requires helmets for people under 21 as well as those who have less than two years’ riding experience or who have not passed a safety course. The reasons for universal motorcycle helmet laws and how they may protect riders in the event of a motorcycle accident may compel you to rethink your options for safety.
How big is the problem?
Since car crashes of all kinds happen every day across this country, it may be difficult to understand the risks to motorcyclists in particular. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say that, while only 3% of registered vehicles are motorcycles, the number of motorcyclists who die in traffic accidents far exceeds that, as they made up 14% of fatalities in 2016. That’s a number that keeps going up, as motorcycle fatalities shot up 82% in a 16-year period.
Besides the loss of human life, the NHTSA reports that failing to wear helmets costs a great deal of money. In 2016, motorcycle crashes involving riders not wearing helmets cost more than $9 billion. They and other safety agencies, such as the Centers for Disease Control, argue that these costs would go down with the implementation of universal motorcycle helmet laws. Representatives say that helmet wearing would cause the incidence of injuries and fatalities in motorcycle crashes to drop significantly.
Just how much would helmets help?
Research says that wearing a helmet while riding on a motorcycle greatly reduces the chance of dying in a crash by more than a third and that head injuries would drop by almost 70%. Other states that implement universal helmet laws report a significant reduction in fatalities and injuries. The NHTSA says that, in 2016, helmets saved more than 1,800 lives and $21 billion in overall costs, including not just economic impacts but those that relate to a reduced quality of life.
Even if Pennsylvania decides to introduce universal helmet laws, motorcycle accidents will still happen. If you or someone you care about has been hurt in this type of crash, helmet use may not matter as you work to hold those responsible accountable. You have every right to look over your legal options as part of recovery.