Every rider understands the importance of motorcycle safety, but the helmet debate remains a controversial subject for motorcyclists across the country. Some believe it’s a simple matter of protection, while others believe that federal law should stay out of their business. So, should helmets be mandatory?
The primary argument for mandatory helmet laws is that they save lives. A motorcycle accident lawyer in California points out that fatal accidents decreased by 37% after the state passed its helmet law. This was due to an 49% increase in helmet use, covering roughly 99% of riders.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations found a similar trend with helmets reducing fatal accidents across the country by 37%. This decrease comes from neck and head protection, significantly limiting the injuries those parts of the body receive in an auto accident.
Aside from the safety aspect, proponents also point to theft. Motorcycle thieves rarely bring a helmet with them, allowing a mandatory law to make these culprits easier to identify. Texas witnessed a 44% decrease in motorcycle theft after passing their law.
Others argue that most countries already have mandatory helmet laws in place, but the final main point to remember is insurance related. With the high cost of medical bills after an accident, insurers often require that riders wear a helmet to receive coverage. This leaves the public to pay for their medical costs, which also includes the uninsured.
The main argument against a mandatory law is that it would allow the federal government to supersede states’ rights, effectively infringing on America’s very design. Organizations and individuals alike argue that educating riders is far more effective than any law in ensuring their safety.
Some agree that minors should wear helmets, but believe that adults have the right to make that decision for themselves. Others believe that every rider should wear a helmet, but no law should force them to do so.
Most individuals against helmet laws also agree that they do not ensure the safety of the rider in the event of an accident. Instead, riders should follow safe practices to avoid dangerous situations altogether. They believe that these laws do not prevent accidents, therefore they are useless.
Finally, some point to a few studies that show medical costs are on par with other types of drivers and that the public does not pay more than they would in any other scenario. Furthermore, most accidents involving a motorcycle tend to be the other party’s fault. Relying on personal injury attorneys, riders can have their medical costs covered.
The Final Verdict
Whether or not helmet laws for motorcyclists should be mandatory is a highly controversial issue. Unfortunately, the debate remains at a standstill and up to individual states to determine. Congress is still unsure of their role in a mandatory law and if one would be constitutional.
However, both sides agree that helmets add a level of safety when riding in the event of an accident. While the jury is out on legality, choosing to wear a helmet can save your life.