While the safety requirements for cars and trucks have been steadily becoming more stringent for years, motorcycle helmet laws have been repealed or defeated in several states. At the same time, car crash fatality rates have declined while motorcycle deaths have increased. A recent study has demonstrated that in the places where mandatory helmet laws have been repealed or weakened, serious motorcycle injuries have risen. The study analyzed the cost per injury claim all across the nation.
The study was conducted by the Highway Loss Data Institute. The study used Michigan as an example. Michigan recently changed a decades-old rule requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets. The law was changed to require helmets only for riders under 21. In the last two years of the old rule, the average insurance payment for a motorcycle injury was a little over $5,000. After the change, the number rose to more than $7,000.
Just looking at costs hides the brutal impact these injuries have on riders and their loved ones. In 2012, motorcycle deaths made up the largest percentage of highway fatalities ever recorded, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Even when they are not fatal motorcycle crashes frequently lead to brain and spinal cord injuries that can require a lifetime of care. An accident can leave riders unable to work or enjoy life as they once did.
Where helmet are mandatory, 97 percent of riders wear them. That number drops to 58 percent in states with no such law, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The people arguing against helmet laws may have never cared for a loved one who has suffered a brain injury. Even good, responsible riders get into accidents. A large number of motorcycle accidents are caused by cars and trucks failing to respect the rights and safety of a rider. When accidents do happen, it is vital that a rider have all the protection he or she needs. That includes a helmet.
Source: Insurance Journal, "Motorcycle Injuries Rise After Helmet Laws Weakened: Study," by Joan Lowy, 5 June 2013