April is helmet awareness month, part 3

by on April 26, 2009
in Commentary, Misc Updates

April is Helmet Awareness Month so I think it’s only fitting to end this series of posts by sharing my view of the helmet law debate.  If we get out of the first 100 days of the Obama Administration without a federal mandate, I’ll be amazed. (Hell if we get out of the 2009 runaway Iowa Legislature without a mandate, I’ll be amazed.)

Proponents of helmet mandates state that helmets “work” – meaning, they save lives. Let’s look at that statement:

Helmets might save lives, but only in those cases where head trauma would have been the cause of death. About 37 percent of all accidents involving riders not wearing helmets, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (Note: that’s not 37 percent of all accidents. It’s 37 percent of all accidents where riders were NOT wearing a helmet and where head trauma was the cause of death. You can further dilute this by noting that the helmet would only have saved the life if it prevented a sufficient degree of the trauma.)

Understanding that even a very small percentage still represents actual human beings with families and friends who love them, it’s important to note that every life is worthwhile. But, it’s equally important to note that helmets only prevent head injuries. The vast majority of motorcyclists who die in accidents do so as a result of body trauma – blunt-force injury to vital organs other than the brain. Helmets, therefore, do nothing to prevent the vast majority of motorcycle fatalities.

When you couple this with the fact that about half of all motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle, it seems more logical to argue that accident prevention should be of greater importance than taking away personal liberty from all riders because a small percentage die from one type of injury.

As I said in my first Helmet Awareness Month post, I wear a helmet and I’d love it if you did, too. But, I don’t think our government should step in and force everyone to wear them.

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2 Responses to “April is helmet awareness month, part 3”
  1. Greta says:

    The following is a quote from a recent study into helmet use done by the University of Missouri. See the following link for the study published on Web Bike World: http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-news/missouri-motorcycle-helmet-study.htm

    “In states where repeals of universal coverage were instituted, the fatality rate increased an average of 12.2 percent. Conversely, in states with universal helmet laws, the fatality rate was 11.1 percent lower than in states with no helmet mandates.”

    Vietnam recently introduced mandatory helmet use on motorcycles and scooters. In the first year the law was in effect, 2008, there were 1400 fewer recorded fatalities and 2400 fewer recorded serious brain injuries in motorcycle and scooter accidents.

    See this link for the full story: http://www.chinapost.com.tw/asia/vietnam/2008/12/16/187848/Vietnams-helmet.htm

    If people can’t see the value in protecting their head, they probably don’t have much inside their head to protect.

  2. BikerChick says:

    Thanks for the additional info and links, Greta.


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