To People Who Want to Ride Motorcycles But Are Afraid to Get Started: Motorcycle Helmets
Do Motorcycle Helmets Increase the Safety of Passengers?
Helmets increase the safety of passengers on motorcycles; all states should require passengers on motorcycles to have them on at all times during the journey. Motorcycle helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and decrease the possibility of death by 42% (Peng, Y. et. al, 2017). As it is already, there is very little protection for a motorcyclist and passenger in an accident.
When crashes occur, motorcyclists, therefore, need the protection of their body, especially the head, to prevent one of the leading causes of death and disability in America. Contrary to this, despite the fact that motorcycle crashes are a major public health concern with the rising economic pressure the health system, as revealed by Eltorai, et. al., (2016), not all states have helmet laws that require all motorcycle riders to wear a helmet. Wei (2016) adds that a universal bike law is not in effect in the US, despite the existence of substantial scientific evidence supporting this measure.
Sanctions and Law Surrounding Motorcycle Helmets
The federal government first required states to adopt motorcycle helmet laws in 1967. However, in 1995, Congress lifted sanctions against states without such laws. The American Motorcycle Association and other motorcyclist rights organization claimed that the laws infringed upon their constitutional rights, depriving them of their right to monitor their safety without government intervention, despite the reduction in mortality and health care costs (Nolte, K. B. et. al. (2017).
Moreover, political groups vocalized the freedom to choose than to make the right choice. Therefore, motorcycle riders rode down the roads to feel the breeze without any care or worry. A textual analysis of studies also point out the values and objectives of motorcyclist associations and the mobilized coalitions that have resulted being obstacles to universal helmet law in the US (Wei, 2016)?
Federal Government and State Legislature
Today, only 20 states have laws requiring all motorcyclists to wear a helmet. Moffa, et. al. (2017) indicates that riders without helmets are 40% more likely to suffer fatal head injuries than those with helmets, and are 15% more likely to incur nonfatal head injuries as stated by the Office of Highway Safety Planning. Further, the study points out an apparent complexity between different states; one removes the legal requirement to wear helmets, while another upholds it.
The state legislature has failed to adopt fundamental universal highway safety laws, and instead, there are thousands of fatalities and injuries on the nation’s streets and highways (Johnson, 2009). Instead, states operate independently. For example, Michigan has had its long standing helmet requirements for motorcyclists overturned, yet their annual motorcycle accidents are 3,250 annually.
In addition to this, the Senate Bill 291 too overturned a 35-year-old safety requirement that had been created to protect motorcycle riders from traumatic brain injuries and fatalities in the event of an accident. These decisions sparked nationwide controversy and debates on the costly effects of health care and legal battles. Firstly, a rider in a motorcycle accident mostly likely incurs serious injuries that could be long-term, disabling and extremely expensive resulting in numerous costly insurance claims.
Secondly, bike accidents are some of the most devastating accidents prompting victims of wrongful injuries to seek compensation rightfully. In Arkansas and Texas, motorcycle fatalities rose by 21 and 31% respectively after they repelled the universal helmet laws in 1997. Notwithstanding, Louisiana, Florida, and Kentucky followed suit and saw 100%, 25% and 50% increase in the motorcycle fatalities too (Eltorai, et. al., 2016).
Contradiction of Massachusetts Motorcycle Rider Accidents Had Helmets On
Motorcyclists in Massachusetts, however, are required to wear helmets, eye protection and ride bikes with turn signals, and they welcome these safety precautions, considering nearly half of all motorcycle deaths in 2009 occurred during a single vehicle crash. On tow, are Massachusetts lawmakers proposing to lift the riders and passengers helmet requirement for those over 21 years of age, with an additional exemption of riders with motorcycles registered in a state without the helmet law? The contradiction is the fact that 78.5% of the 1,150 accidents of bikes that occurred in Massachusetts in 2010, the riders had a helmet on.
From studies above, it is evident that weakened or repealed helmet laws lead to more than a 50% drop in helmet use with a significant impact on the injuries suffered in these accidents. The resultant effect is an overwhelming increase in stress and demand for the already limited health care providers and doctors, unnecessary healthcare costs, injuries, and deaths. Notwithstanding, as shown by Moffa (2017), long court battles are on the rise as anyone who is injured seeks a settlement through quality legal assistance for compensation for injuries resulting from the negligence or carelessness of riders with an adverse effect on the overall economy of the nation.
Motorcyclists have the right to express their opinions about wearing helmets. For safety reasons, all states should require riders and passengers to wear helmets. Riders should take in all considerations of dangers when they ride, for example, once could have an accident outside their home state, leading to federal intervention.
For a broader adoption that expedites implementation, a federal mandate is of priority. Meanwhile, there is an expectation of substantial amount on federal health care spending. A coalition of support from health providers, insurer, and the community/public is evident with the solution of helmets saving lives and financial resources.
Safety motorcycles classes taken semi-annually or annually would benefit motorcycle riders to be more aware of hidden dangers. The Governors Highway Safety Association (Hassan, et. al., (2017), Federal Safety Officials (Fagan et. al, (2015), and Congress have a national responsibility. They ensure that all states pass the laws for all motorcyclists and passengers to wear helmets and protective clothing (Endogen, 2013).
Protective Safety Apparel
Wearing of protective safety apparel could also be encouraged, showcasing the advantages to the riders like preventing tearing and damaging skin, reducing serious injuries from head to toe. As a result, moving forward, regulators should continue promoting additional knowledge among motorcyclists on the benefits of helmet-wearing, and as an alternative to helmet mandates.
Legislation walking hand in hand with public enlightenment has a success rate in passing an initiative or cause as discussed by Eltorai et. al., (2016), and thereby, ensure that voter education is used to gain widespread support to overcome special interests.
Campaigns to Educate the Public on Bills
Use of campaigns for nation-wide promotional efforts that have user-friendly websites with accurate information and information provided at different tiers and hierarchies to best meet readers’ comprehension capabilities are efficient. Other several available media platforms to disseminate messages, and relate to individual experiences through the creation of different approaches for small sub-groups also successfully affect behavioral change. Hence the public is well informed and educated to direct the elected legislators what bills to pass.
The result is that for all the strongly held feelings and views on law, the legislature passes them. This way, legislators must believe that their re-election depends on if they pass a law or not. In conclusion, despite the repeal of mandatory helmet laws, US motorcycle rider trends show an increase in the use of helmets from 56% in 2003 to 60% in 2010 (p < 0.001), while fatalities increased during the same period as discussed by Phillips, et. al., (2016).
Helmets, therefore, increase the safety of passengers on motorcycles; therefore, all states should require passengers on motorcycles to have them on at all times during the journey.
What is your opinion? Would you rather all states implement mandatory motorcycle helmet laws?
Peng, Y., Vaidya, N., Finnie, R., Reynolds, J., Dumitru, C., Njie, G., … & Sleet, D. A. (2017). Universal motorcycle helmet laws to reduce injuries: a community guide systematic review. American journal of preventive medicine, 52(6), 820-832.
Eltorai, A. E., Simon, C., Choi, A., Hsia, K., Born, C. T., & Daniels, A. H. (2016). Federally mandating motorcycle helmets in the United States. BMC public health, 16(1), 242.
Wei, E. (2016). The Case of the Missing Motorcycle Helmet Mandates: Why has a universal motorcycle helmet law not been passed in the US even with strong scientific evidence that supports such a measure?.
Erdogan, M. O., Sogut, O., Colak, S., Ayhan, H., Afacan, M. A., & Satilmis, D. (2013). Roles of motorcycle type and protective clothing in motorcycle crash injuries. Emergency medicine international, 2013.
Nolte, K. B., Healy, C., Rees, C. M., & Sklar, D. (2017). Motorcycle policy and the public interest: a recommendation for a new type of partial motorcycle helmet law. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 45(1_suppl), 50-54.
Moffa, J. S. (n.d.). Should Motorcycle Riders be Required to Wear Helmets by Law? Retrieved July 14, 2017, from HG: https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=26243
Johnson, T. D. (2009). States making little progress on passage of traffic safety laws. The Nation’s Health, 39(2), 8-8.
Hassan, A., Jokar, T. O., Rhee, P., Ibraheem, K., Kulvatunyou, N., Anderson, K. T., … & Joseph, B. (2017). More helmets fewer deaths: motorcycle helmet legislation impacts traumatic brain injury-related mortality in young adults. The American Surgeon, 83(6), 541-546.
Fagnant, D. J., & Kockelman, K. M. (2015). Motorcycle use in the United States: crash experiences, safety perspectives, and countermeasures. Journal of Transportation Safety & Security, 7(1), 20-39.
Phillips, J. L., Overton, T. L., Campbell-Furtick, M., Simon, K., Duane, T. M., Gandhi, R. G., & Shafi, S. (2016). Trends in helmet use by motorcycle riders in the decades following the repeal of mandatory helmet laws. International journal of injury control and safety promotion, 1-7.